38 weeks pregnant, uncomfortable and too hot, I struggled to get to sleep for the 5th night in a row, in the the busy antenatal ward. Being admitted for observation the previous week had not been in my plan. I had hoped to spend the last remaining days of being pregnant at home with the girls. Probably nesting just that little bit more. But no. Here I was, at 1am, desperately trying to sleep, despite the machines beeping on and off and the groans of women in early labour bothering the life out of me. In all honesty I wasn’t feeling all that tolerant of these women. I mean come on ladies, you’re only at the early stages, give over! The rest of us could be here for weeks – we need our sleep!
As I said, this isn’t my proudest moment. A little later on that night I heard another lady being brought into the bed next to mine. Since hospital curtains are yet to be sound proofed I didn’t have much choice but to hear this lady and her partner discuss just how much pain she was in. And boy was she in pain! And apparently unaware it was 2am and the rest of the ward was trying to sleep.
At full volume she told him over and over again how sore she was. And then came the heaving. If you’ve ever had a slow labour you’ll know what I mean.
Well, I had hit my limit. I was seconds away from pulling the curtain back and telling them to keep it down, when I heard daddy-to-be say “I’ll go and get you some more wee dishes and paper towels love”. To which mummy-to-be screamed “NO! don’t leave me!”.
I was instantly rebuked in my heart, as the Lord reminded of something. Only 5 years previously I had been admitted to this very same ward, in the bed opposite the one I was currently sitting in. My labour was slowing down, despite the pain I was in, and the midwife told Andrew he should go home and come back in the morning. I was terrified. “Don’t leave me!” were my very scared (slightly medicated on pethidine) words to Andrew that night.
As the Lord brought this image before me, I knew my attitude was rotten. I had become so wrapped up in my own ‘problems’ that empathy was long gone and the only person on my mind was ME. I could understand this lady, and her fear. So I prayed quietly for her and then got up and went and found the dishes and paper towels that her attentive partner wanted to fetch for her in the first place.
This incident taught me the importance of looking beyond my own feelings and worries. There are people worse off than us, sometimes a lot worse off. A little empathy can go a long way. Here’s a few ideas to help us all ‘get over ourselves’, before we go past the point of even noticing how selfish we’ve become.
- Wake up everyday and say out loud, 5 things your thankful for. This might sound a bit cheesy, but it is great way to start your morning. Plus it sets a good example to your children. Don’t forget the devil is listening too – let him know he’s not going to get to glory in your attitude today.
- Ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to bless someone else sometime during your day. It doesn’t have to be big and obvious to everyone else. But if you look for a way to bless someone you are sure to find it. It just starts with having the purpose in your mind that you WANT to do it.
- When something happens that you didn’t plan for, don’t spiral into a panic. Sometimes even when negative things happen we can use them as opportunities for personal growth. Dealing with the unpredictable parts of life can refine our character, but not if we become ruled by emotion and selfishness.
‘Lila, get over yourself!’