Exchanging TMI for TLC


Compassion has never really been my thing.  Teaching PE has made me down right heartless.  As a rookie whistle-blower; I used to swoon over every boo boo, bandage every scrape, ice every bump.  That is, until I realized that the kids were playing more than just soccer.

I know now that if I swoon over one sprained ankle, dozens more will roll.  I know that a band-aide quickly becomes the fashion trend of the century; everyone’s gotta have one.  And as for the Ice? All good schools keep the cold stuff  in the office refrigerator.   The same office occupied by sweet talking, hug giving, candy wielding Secretaries.

Still, when it comes to injury, kids are relentless.  Crying wolf is an understatement.  They howl, scream, squeeze out fake tears, all while rolling on the ground claiming certain death.  I completely tune it out. 

Last year, the Owie Emmy went to a 3rd grade boy who nearly met his Maker every class.  In a dodgeball game featuring small foam balls, he got slugged in the stomach with a Nerf going at least two miles an hour.  He fell to the floor in the fetal position,  wailing about internal bleeding.  I calmly told him he needed to move to the side of the court so no one tripped over his feet.  He swore he couldn’t stand, so I told him to scoot.  Scooting would require him to stop clutching his sides like a premenstrual teenager, so he again refused.  Left with no other choice, I log rolled him to the bleachers and left him to his dramatic display.  

Five minutes after class ended, he stuck to his guns and continued the act.  I again insisted he stand and go back to his home room. He refused.  Repeatedly.  Finally, I lowered my voice an octave, put my hands on my hips and demanded he rise.   He picked himself up, wiped his (dry) eyes and said with deep conviction, “you are a horrible mother . . . my mother is a much better mother than you . . . you should be ashamed.”  Then he walked to class.  Injury free.

It was my turn to fall to the floor.  Laughing hysterically.  All I could think was; his poor mother, he’ll never move out.

I knew he wasn’t hurt, I know I can’t fall for every feigned injury, and I’m learning that sometimes I’m an oversized third grader.

The past month, I’ve endured a series of minor annoyances.  All of which I exaggerated a bit.  A  virus “felt like pneumonia.”  An injury “had to be a cracked rib.”  And a little indigestion was “the worst colitis flare up all year.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hypochondriac.  I even checked WebMD. I don’t have all the symptoms.  I think, sometimes, I just want to go to the office where the nice secretaries will give me candy and tell me everything is okay.

Then a funny thing happened last week.  I got poison oak . . . on a run . . . in the woods . . . when I stopped for a bathroom break.  The unfortunate contact point made for a systemic reaction and nothing short of total misery. I waited two days to pursue treatment, solely for egos sake.  I didn’t even want to talk about it.  Serious TMI.

After two sleepless nights, I broke down and called my doctor.   I spared him no detail, and  He spared me the humiliation of coming in.  He just called in the steroid we both knew I needed.  When I picked up the prescription the pharmacist gave me her well-practiced Prednisone speech.  Before I could escape, she asked what it was for.  Again, I crossed the lines of appropriateness and explained my predicament.  She laughed and called out to the other pharmacist why I was there. He then turned to me and yelled:  “I thought you trail runners just wore Depends.” 

Soon, I was telling everyone about my unfortunate encounter with the wrong leaf.  In one exercise class I even had everyone in hysterics every time I said the word squat.  I wasn’t seeking a warm hug and Hershey’s kiss, I just wanted to be better. 

Jesus met this guy at the pool of Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years.  This guy sat at this pool with a bunch of other sick people waiting for an angel to stir the waters.  He believed that when the angel stirred, if he could be the first one in, then he wold be healed.  Crazy thing?  The guy couldn’t walk.  There was no way he would ever be the first into the pool, but he stayed there anyway. 

So Jesus comes to him and says “do you want to be healed?”  What a stupid question.  Of course he does.  Right?  Afterall, he is sitting at this pool for everyone to see, for everyone to know that he is really ailing.  But when the guy answers Jesus, he’s still wallowing in his disease. “Sure,”  he replied, “I want to be better, but someone always beats me into the pool, and I don’t have anyone to pick me up.”  Jesus got serious then, and told him to rise.  The guy did, and he was healed.

Sometimes we sit in our suffering, hang out in our predicaments, wallow in our troubles; just waiting for sympathy.  Do we want to be better?  Maybe.  A little.  Would we rather have the candy?  Probably.

I made a huge issue out of minor ailments, but didn’t want to deal with the one issue that really was a problem.  We can hide behind minor trials . . . someone always beats me . . . no one will pick me up.  Or we can give God our TMI and experience true TLC.   The kind of lovng care that makes us whole. 

Do you want to be well? Or do you want others to be sorry?  Is Jesus asking you to rise?  Do you know He cares?

That third grader, the one from the dodgeball game, he grew up a  lot.  The last week of school we played one final round of dodgeball.  I joined in, and pegged him with a ball.  He laughed, pointed, and kept playing.  He was one of my favorites.  We had a pretty great relationship . .  . all because I told him to rise. 

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