monsters – noun | \ˈmän(t)-stərs\
: a strange or horrible imaginary creature
: something that is extremely or unusually large
: a powerful person or thing that cannot be controlled and that causes many problems
For a good three weeks, I had the flu, then bronchitis, then what I call persistent bronchitis, because it refused to go away with just one antibiotic. So I was prescribed a second round of medication that lasted twice as long as the first and required twice daily doses instead of just one.
After the first couple of days of taking it, I felt worse not better. Something must be really wrong, I reasoned, though it wasn’t reasonable at all to think such a thing. Many people, including the doctor, said that once the flu turns to bronchitis, it can take weeks to get better. But I never let a thing like reason get in the way of a good panic, and a sense of dread crept over me.
Here’s where I should tell you that it was also that time again when I am tested for the presence of cancer in my body. Even though it has been almost nine years since I was first diagnosed and more than three and a half years since my last recurrence, the fact that it has recurred multiple times means my doctors like to keep close tabs on me.
We’ve stretched these tests out to every four months now, instead of every three. A good sign. Though at least one of my doctors admits that we could probably spread those tests out a little further even, if it weren’t for the fact that my anxiety level over not being tested frequently would be more risky than the actual needlestick and blood draw. Not that there isn’t enough anxiety just anticipating and then waiting on the results.
Even though things are going well and I’m feeling good, except for the pesky bronchitis, and even though there was no rational reason to expect the worst, I did. I interpreted every muscle ache and cough from the bronchitis and every side effect from the cough syrup and antibiotic as signs that the cancer was back. And then it got worse from there. Every time my mom didn’t answer a text, every time a client didn’t respond to an email, every time I caught a glimpse of the latest election results, panic, fear, and dread set in.
Of course I’m not the only person to ignore reason and let fear take over. RIght? You do this too sometimes, don’t you? In fact, I think we do this collectively in our churches, in our communities, in our nation. We ignore facts. We ignore reality. We nurse our doubts and anxieties until nothing and no one, not even our faith in God or our love for others can pull us back from the brink.
Seth Godin wrote something insightful in a blog post this week called “On being treated like an adult.” “It’s great to dream like a kid, but no fun to be treated like one,” he wrote. And in order to be treated like an adult, he said we need to start acting like one. He listed a few ideas: stop whining, don’t call people names, no tantrums. Just the basic stuff that happens every day on the campaign trail, in our homes and offices, and on social media. He also said this, “Don’t insist that there’s a monster under the bed even after you’ve seen there isn’t.”
We all face a certain number of monsters in our lives; I could name a few, but you already know the list. But we fear far more monsters than actually exist, and very few of them are a close as we think they are.
With just a couple more doses of antibiotic to take, I’m feeling almost recovered from my bronchitis. And thanks-be-to-God, my blood tests came back normal again. Of course sometimes things don’t work out that way at all. Just ask me: I know. But monsters I just knew were living under my bed actually weren’t there at all. Instead, there’s just a collection of giant dust bunnies, and those things aren’t going anywhere unless I go get the broom.
What’s YOUR word of the week? Drop it into the comments section, or share it on this week’s Facebook post. If you post about your word on your blog, please slip the link into a comment below so I can stop by and join you.