My body has a physical response to making phone calls. We’re talking racing heart, muscle tension, fight or flight mode – a tiger is about to eat you – that kind of response.
My body also has a physical response to the shame that comes from dropping the ball or cancelling plans. Like all energy is drained from my body, and I curl up into a ball, I want to make myself as small as possible, tears welling up in my eyes – that kind of response.
So when I woke up yesterday morning with a fever, a sore throat, plugged up sinuses and three appointments on the calendar in the next 24 hours my first response was, “well, I guess I should just push through.”
Then, I remembered that I had made a promise to myself and my therapist the last time I was sick that NEXT time I would listen to my body.
And I remembered that I had just finished Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect and had been inspired by the courage that she showed in saying, “no,” slowing down and choosing the health of her body, her family and her soul over her professional reputation. And I remembered that I wanted to be more present and I wanted to care about my soul and my health.
So I picked up the phone. And I cancelled all three appointments. And I slept. And I drank orange juice and ginger tea. And I took medicine. And I feel better today, not all the way better, but I feel better today.
I’m taking part in this one week #OneThingThatScaresYou series from the author Kelly Rae Roberts. Each day she sends an email with a prompt to do one courageous thing. Yesterday’s prompt was “courageous conversations.”
My courageous conversation was cancelling my appointments. It’s not romantic, or exciting. No one is going to make a Lifetime Movie Network film about my courageous conversation. I called, spoke to receptionists and said, “I’m sick.”
In Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist writes:
It’s easy to get lost in this idea that “Brave” has to be this grand gesture, this crazy leap, instead, being brave can sometimes look boring. Being Brave could actually mean saying No, because you believe that God is calling you to a time of rest. Life does not need to consist of all these cliff diving moments of free-falling, you can still be Brave in the stillness, as you’re resting in the unknown, trusting in the Lord and knowing He is Good. That to me is bravery.
Don’t let this notion of Bravery, make you do the crazy things because you think it makes you seem more exciting. Bravery can be Boring, and that’s okay!!!
It’s sad isn’t it? The pressure to push through even when we’re physically falling apart. Yesterday I heard alternate interpretations of Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia. Either, “She’s so badass, she kept campaigning even with pneumonia.” Or, “See she can’t be President. She got sick.”
Neither one of those interpretations is particularly healthy. People get sick, even important people, even competent people.
Even my medicines yesterday were telling the story that we should push through when we’re sick. The wrappers on my cough drops were filled with messages to push through:
- Don’t try harder. Do harder
- You can do it and you know it.
- The Show must go on. Or Work.
- Keep your chin up.
- Push on!
- Be unstoppable!
- Power through!
- Dust off and get up!
- Conquer today!
So while it seems like a small thing, a boring thing, I am absolutely going to claim my calling in sick and cancelling appointments as a courageous thing. Because we live in a culture where everything from cough drop wrappers to the news will tell you that you do not stop, you do not rest, you power through and dust off. Choosing rest and health is a boring but courageous thing.