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No one likes being sick, especially when you are actually sick. But too often we neglect our health in the name of ministry. I know I do. And now I'm paying the price. After struggling with a nagging cough, I am now confined to the house "resting" with pneumonia. Ugh!
It was March 8th. I was shopping for our spaghetti dinner fund raiser at our local big box store. As I was shopping, I could feel my body shutting down and a fever rising. By the time I reached the office to unload, I know I was sick. As soon as I could I got home and crawled into bed. I had a low grade fever, body chills and aches, the sweats, and complete exhaustion. But all of that didn't stop me from getting up and picking a few last minute items and heading to the church to fire up the stove and ovens. I felt horrible but I pushed through the dinner, meeting and greeting our diners while giving instructions to my amazing volunteers.
Sunday came and I continued to push through. I went to church for two services and Sunday school plus our first mission trip planning meeting. I was zapped when it was done. So much so, I canceled our high school ministry gathering that night, spending the rest of the afternoon and evening in bed. Monday was my Sabbath, a day of rest. But Tuesday, I was at the office again. Oh, and I developed a cough.
Four weeks later, the cough is still a problem. Not only did I have to deal with a cough, but I was constantly feeling rundown. Then my wife said something. She remembered back to when she was down with pneumonia. She had all the same symptoms I was experiencing. It clicked. That evening I was at the express care facility, being diagnosed with pneumonia, in both lungs.
Too often, we find ourselves busy with commitments, functions, and activities that rarely allow us to slow down long enough to care for ourselves. We place our careers, our students, our church tasks, and our families needs ahead of our own needs. And while we might take a Sabbath, how many of us really take that day to rest? And when we are feeling under the weather, well, many of us just push on because we think we have to.
So here I am, 5 weeks in and I am taking an antibiotic and have to take a week (maybe more) to rest. That means I'm not supposed go anywhere or do anything until the cough is gone. Yeah, me.
Too often, we find ourselves busy with commitments, functions, and activities that rarely allow us to slow down long enough to care for ourselves.
Being housebound with pneumonia has given me plenty of time to think. And as I think about the last 5 weeks, there are a few things I've already learned.
When You're sick, Be sick
It might sound a little strange but it's okay to be sick. None of us are invincible. We too get sick. So when we start to feel a little under the weather, slow down and take the time to be sick. Take the day off. Stay in bed. Sleep. Rest. Give your body time to heal and get better.
Listen to those Around You
There are plenty of people around you who love and care for you. And there are plenty of times when they see something about ourselves before we see it. I had a number of people give me plenty of advice. Some of the advice was helpful, some of the advice was from people just being kind. But the best advice came from my wife and a few very close friends who said I should rest and seek medical help.
Go To The Doctor
Learn to Rest
Now for the hardest lesson, learning to rest. What does your sabbath look like? Do you really do things that allow you to rest? Rest your body? Rest your mind? Do you find time on your sabbath rest in the Lord? Neither do I. My sabbath is writing and reading, taking care of our chickens, ducks, and rabbits, working on projects around the house, or running errands for my wife and our family. Rarely do I take my time off to turn off. But that is going to change. It's time I learn to rest.
Take the time to take care of yourself.
Jay Higham is a veteran youth worker of over 25 years; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently serving as the student ministry director at a church, located in Western PA. Jay has been married to Amy for over 21 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 girl). Jay is an aspiring author, blogger, speaker, vlogger, and social media junkie. He is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and training youth workers to love and serve their students with passion and excellence.