There was a line in Seinfeld that came from George’s father that sticks with me whenever I think of chaos. An entire episode was dedicated to this line. Whenever he would get angry, he would shout, “Serenity now, serenity now!” The thought behind the saying was that it would keep his blood pressure from getting too high, but he never sounded more stressed than when he yelled it. It remains one of my favorite episodes of the TV show. Of course, as often happened in Seinfeld, nothing but chaos ensued for the entire episode. George tried to help his father sell computers, Jerry got in touch with his emotions, and Kramer put a screen door in front of his apartment. When I picture chaos, this episode is the first thing to come to mind.
After these past few weeks of chaos, I have wanted to scream “serenity now” to the sky. I have missed almost 4 weeks of classes, just in the first two months of classes. My doctor’s made the decision to admit me to the hospital this week for some tests. Coming out of the hospital, I can honestly say that I have a newfound respect for people who had feeding tubes indefinitely (I couldn’t even make it 24 hours with a tube; it was miserable). I think that had I been on my medications (I was off ALL of my meds), things would have been easier. But, I was exhausted, in pain, nauseous, dizzy, and unable to function even the slightest bit.
And yet, in the midst of this chaos, there was a tiny sliver of serenity that I was able to find in the Harry Potter marathons, and the binge-watching of shows like Seinfeld, Avatar, and Superstore. At about 3am, during my last night, I was up shaking uncontrollably. I was nauseous, I couldn’t sleep, and I was in so much pain from the catheter. And at 5am, I begged the doctors and nurses to take out the catheter. While parts of the test couldn’t be completed because of this, I found so much peace in the decision to take away the least endurable part of my pain. My gag reflux has always been incredibly strong, and I have always had throat/swallowing problems, so it wasn’t surprising that I could not tolerate the catheter in my throat. Even throughout the rest of the test, which was trying and painful, I was at peace with the decision I had made. It was my ‘serenity now’.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15
God doesn’t want us to experience chaos because He is not a God of chaos. Even in the midst of chaos, He is able to offer us peace. This doesn’t mean we won’t struggle. It doesn’t mean we won’t experience chaos. We live in a fallen world, and we are flawed beings. But, it does mean that God offers something better for us than the motions of this world.
Bring the hospital visits. Bring the tubes. Bring the nausea. God still offers me more than anything this world could possibly send my way. I think it is times like these that I am reminded of how weak I am. But, it is in my weakness that God’s peace is able to break through the barriers I’ve put up. It is in my physical weakness that my faith is able to become strong.
God calls us to peace, and He also calls us to rest. Recently, in my ethics class, we talked about the capital vice of sloth. Today, we think of sloth as laziness, but that’s not actually what sloth is. Sloth is a resistance to God’s call for our lives. For some of us, this is laziness and procrastination. But, for others, it can be workaholism and an inability to say no. I definitely fall into the last category. I work and work, and try to keep myself busy. While I have not enjoyed my hospital stay, or my four weeks off of school, I have remembered to take time and rest. I have remembered to take time and appreciate the things God does in my life. I have given thanks for the things I took for granted, like my health. God calls us to peace and rest because it ushers in a response of gratitude.
Head Above Water by Avril Lavigne
“God, keep my head above water
Don’t let me drown, it gets harder
I’ll meet you there at the altar
As I fall down to my knees
Don’t let me drown, drown, drown”