Once upon a time, I participated with a missions organization that had some strict and bizarre rules. On summer mission trips, if you claimed to be sick, you’d have to go to the “sick tent” for twenty-four hours. You could have no contact with the rest of the team; neither could you participate in ANY activities for those imprisoned hours. Sometimes it felt like punishment, but I can understand that they wanted to discourage us from faking sickness.
But haven’t you ever felt so sick, and then one good vomit cures you? You know, just a crazy bug that’s all up in your system? That nauseous feeling doesn’t usually last a whole twenty-four hours. Such was my case in the summer of ’98 in El Salvador. But I surrendered myself to the sick tent. By the next morning I was so bored that I was plucking my own leg hairs just to have something to do.
Well, fast forward to the present and I’m still affected by that policy. When I feel under the weather, my first instinct is to ask myself, “Are you soooo sick that you’d give everything up for the next 24 hours? If not, you’re probably not that sick.” It’s quite frustrating to be mentally caged by such a black and white policy. I know that regular, normal adults can simply monitor their symptoms and pace themselves accordingly. But not me. I always feel guilty – like I’m in trouble – when I’m sick.
And so, rather than making a big-girl decision all by myself to call into work and cancel my day, I put all my baggage on Brian yesterday morning instead. I figured I’d feel less guilty if he made up my mind.
Me, turning to Brian, “I still feel sick. My throat, my nose, my head. I could work, but I know that if I do, I’ll feel worse tonight. Do you think that I should just rest or should I go ahead and work?”
(Men, this is a trap.)
Brian, “Well, if you feel like I do, then I’d go ahead and work.”
Me, now emotional, “But I don’t want to!” Then I exited the room in a huff and called-in sick.
I came back to bed and explained, “Brian, when I ask you if I should rest or work, your answer needs to ALWAYS be that you just want me to feel better.”
I’m glad that’s settled.