Thursday, April 29, 2010

A small thing

A few nights ago out on the farm, I took a great shower under the new shower head in my sister's upstairs bathroom.  Took care of my normal ablutions, none of which either concern or interest you.  However, later, I thought maybe I'd trapped some water in my right ear, which led to all the standard things one does when this happens: I shook my head vigorously several times, tried standing on my head (not an easy practice in any circumstance now that I've reached my fifties!), inserted Q-tips, knocked my hand up the other side of my head.  All to no avail. 

Yesterday I realized my ear canal was swelling slightly, something it did a few months back, in the comfort of my own home, near my own medical professionals.  I decided I'd try gutting it out until I get home Sunday. I mean, how bad could it get? 

The answer was pretty bad.  Two days later, after a very painful night, I awakened with two thoughts in mind. First:  I needed to call my doctor--RIGHT NOW!!!--and hope he'd prescribe antibiotics without seeing me; and secondly, I needed to apologize to my children, my siblings' children, all the children of the world who had ear infections when they were too young to express how it feels other than by crying.  Because I'm here to tell you, crying suddenly seemed like the most natural reactions.

The truth is, our kids didn't have many ear infections.  Maybe one apiece.  Once at a well-child check for a couple of them, our pediatrician looked in the ears of one, then the other and said, "You know, I've always thought that for some reason, God had simply made the human child ear tubes too small. Across the board, too small.  But your kids--they have perfectly-sized ear tubes.  I don't get it."  But I watched my sister deal with ear infection after ear infection, and I felt for her as much as the kids.  Until the last couple of days.  Now I'm feeling for all those little tykes with such pain.  When I told J I had an ear infection, he said, "What are you, three?"  And maybe I am.  Maybe this pain in my ear that radiates to my head and down my neck, has given me a fever and made me a grump, maybe this makes me something like a three-year-old. 

I'm used to pain.  That's not news here.  But an ear ache?  It's done me in.  Absolutely done me in. This tiniest part of the body, this little canal with the sensitive hairs through which all sound travels is an essential part of our body.  And when it hurts, the whole body hurts with it.  And...and God knew it would be so.  He meant it to be exactly this way.  Every piece of the body has a purpose, even to the smallest hairs in the ear. 
"God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?...If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."  1 Corinthians 12: 18, 26

I'm living this this week.  An infection in my ear is teaching me about life in the Body of Christ.  That a small thing like ear infection can do this makes the pain almost worth it.  Well, maybe not worth it, but at least worth something.  And those antibiotic drops don't hurt either.

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