For the past few weeks, I’ve been compartmentalizing my life more than I’ve had in a while. My grandma was admitted to a hospital a few weeks back on account of some internal colon bleeding, and she’s recently been spending her time in a nursing home. Because of finals, I’ve been compressing the situation down to a manageable size because I know if I let it get to me, I won’t be able to do the work that I’m supposed to do. But in the midst of that, I’ve also been wondering about how selfish it is to do something like compartmentalize. My grandma is looking at the tail end of her time on Earth, and all I can do is worry about getting my grades in order? The thought of it made me concerned about the patterns of prioritization I was setting.
Now that finals are over, I thought I would be able to relax. But on the very night of finals, I was asked to rush home and move my bed downstairs because my grandma was coming home from the nursing home. With a head full of steam, I stomped up the stairs and violently began lifting my bed up and taking it downstairs by myself, feeling annoyed that what I thought was going to be a breather turned into more work. As I was getting more frustrated by my grandpa making suggestions without being able to really help, I lost focus and my foot came down awkwardly on one of the steps, causing me to tweak my ankle and fall down the stairs with the bed in hot pursuit. It’s been a long time since that kind of language has left my lips. Nursing my ankle, I was furious with the situation, frustrated by my grandpa living in the past and trying to exert some kind of influence at the nursing home, and exhausted from all the emotional suppression I had been doing for the sake of stress management. Life felt like Murphy’s Law on steroids – everything I touched seemed to just turn out poorly. I felt the apathy of depression stalking me, reminding me what it was like to feel completely helpless.
As I picked myself up and finished the job running on pure adrenaline, I realized that my whole attitude towards my grandma’s health circumstances was entirely selfish. I realized how an ethics of duty is bereft of the tender compassion that characterizes virtuous living – the kind of life that flows from manifesting the life of Christ. I lived by duty, grudgingly doing the right things and following the rules of what ought to be done, yet all the while, I bemoaned my circumstance and staged numerous pity parties for myself. I didn’t consider the fact that my parents have been attending to my grandma while working full-time jobs. I didn’t consider that my grandpa was doing all he knew to try and cope with the situation of his wife dying. I have been utterly self-absorbed these past few weeks, and I now see an ugly reflection staring back at me.
As my temper cooled from spraining my ankle and finishing up the tasks I needed to do, I found myself reflecting and seeing that I didn’t even deserve the situation I was in. My ankle sprain could have been so much worse, but God had mercy on me. I could have lost my grandmother during finals, but instead, I’ve been given an opportunity to serve her and love her well. I had the opportunity to stay up really late and sit in sympathy with one of my best friends who has also hit a bit of a rough patch. The season I have been going through is no less vibrant than before—I just put on selfish glasses along the way, and I forgot to consider the mercies of God and His deliverance in the past, present, and future. Thank You, Jesus, that You live in me (even when it doesn’t seem like it from the outside) and that You love me.