My husband and I were about 36 hours into our first bout of the stomach virus as parents. It all started when our sweet Will, 4, stood in the hallway Monday morning at 1:30 with a tummy ache. It took me less than a minute to realize that my motherly instinct was correct on this one. Evidence of the stomach bug ensued – everywhere; I called my husband John, who was asleep, for help.
He jumped up and together we began tag-teaming this nasty virus that was making our little man so sick. I took care of Will, and John began cleaning up the mess, both of us hoping our eighth-month-old daughter wouldn’t awaken to all the commotion.
Thank the Lord, she didn’t. John finished cleaning the floors, sprayed the house down with Lysol and took up residence on the couch. I started a load of laundry before quarantining Will and myself to the master bed and bath and settling in for a long night.
Granted, my husband, daughter or I could come down with the virus at any minute, I think it’s safe to say that we survived it, for the most part. … I hope!
I’ve always been terrified of the stomach virus. Strange, I know, but it’s true. I dreaded the day it would attack our little family. I knew it would, though, because it’s a part of life, especially life with children. And then Monday morning, my fear became reality. I’m thankful that I did not have to face that fear alone.
In fact, the stomach virus has made me very grateful. It reminded me of Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Before you think I’m crazy, please let me clarify.
First of all, I realize there are situations in life much tougher than an ole stomach virus. I also know there are heart-wrenching seasons of life in which these verses still bear truth but seem almost impossible to apply. Honestly, I fear those situations and seasons too, which is all the more reason for me to meditate on the above verses.
Secondly, in no way am I thankful that my son got sick. It breaks my heart to see my children sick, even slightly sick. And, no, I didn’t like doing what seemed like a hundred loads of laundry nor did I like being separated from the rest of our family.
But through the inevitable and the uncomfortable, the Lord used something as common as the stomach virus to show me numerous things for which I have to be thankful.
For starters, I’m thankful that our son was 4.5 years old before having to experience the stomach virus. I’m incredibly thankful for Lysol, Clorox wipes, Tide and a working washer and dryer (that’s been going for the last 36 hours). I’m so grateful that Will is better. I’m also thankful for saltine crackers, Sprite and chicken soup with alphabet noodles (because the ABCs bring a smile to Will’s face).
But what brings an even bigger smile to my face as well as an overwhelming gratefulness to my heart is my husband, my selfless husband who puts his love for me and for our children into action. He brings truth to the old adage that “love is a verb.”
He does this everyday, and often I’m too blind to see it. It takes something like the stomach virus to remind me how blessed I am to be loved with John’s Christ-like love. I don’t deserve it, but he gives it anyway.
Not only did John clean the floors at 2:00 in the morning, he spent the next day cleaning and sanitizing the whole house. It wasn’t even a question as to whether or not he would stay home from work and care for our daughter; he just did it. (Another thing I’m grateful for is his flexible work hours.) In an effort to keep her from being exposed to germs, he kept her in another part of the house. Then, amidst all the cleaning, he changed her, fed her, played with her and put her down for naps. This also allowed me to give one-on-one care to Will.
And believe it or not, he does things like this everyday. He is constantly putting his love into action.
Why? Because the Lord has transformed John’s heart and has given him the desire to love me “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). John doesn’t love me perfectly (he’s human), but he loves me beautifully through word and deed.
I’m sad to say that it took the stomach virus for me to fully realize and acknowledge what he does and how he loves on a daily basis. Not because he has to but because he gets to.
May I reciprocate such love for God’s glory … in marriage, in parenthood and in all of life!