“I’ve got to go to work.”
“On no account. You need rest.”
“It’s the planning meeting, it’s important.”
– From the Doctor Who episode “The Lodger”
I do not like commercials for cold and flu medicine. They all seem to say basically the same thing: “Don’t let anything slow you down! Take this medicine so you can keep doing everything you always do even though you’re sick!”
First of all, I don’t care what they’re selling, when I’m sick, no medicine ever makes me feel as good as the commercials suggest. But even more than that, the “Don’t let anything slow you down!” message bothers me.
When you’re sick, your body is already working hard to fight off the germs. Which takes up energy you normally use for other things. So, you know, if you try to do all those other things, too… It doesn’t work out well.
I’m not sure what it is that makes humans want to go, go, go, even when their bodies want to rest, rest, rest. Maybe it’s a subconscious desire to believe that the world needs us. Maybe it’s fear of boredom. Maybe it’s a culture that equates value with productivity. Maybe some combination of lots of different factors, depending on the person.
But when you are sick, it really is okay to slow down. Not just okay; important. Resting when you genuinely need to is not laziness. The world will continue spinning if you call in sick to work, or if the laundry has to wait an extra day, or if you take a nap instead of reading. And it’s okay that the world continues spinning while you rest.
And I think that God sometimes uses illness to remind us to slow down. I’m certainly not going to tell someone with the flu, “Oh, God made you get sick so you would slow down.” I don’t have that kind of knowledge. Notice that my first statement didn’t even say, “I think sometimes God makes us get sick to remind us to slow down.” But it might be something to consider.
One of the best things that happened to me in college is that I had a cold during my first finals week. I had to just do some studying with the limited energy I had, show up for my tests and do what I could, and let that be enough. And lo and behold, things turned out fine. Which gave me proof that I did not have to stress about finals week to do well. It was great.
(You know, I think this blog post was much better constructed in my head. It seemed like it would flow so nicely, but it’s not working so well now that I’m trying to type it out. Oh, well. We’ll jump to the conclusion then.)
So. If you’re sick, slow down. Please. The planning meeting is important. But so are you.