My spirituality doesn’t always come from religious services. Nor does it necessarily come from philosophical texts, nature’s wonder, or smiles on children’s faces. Don’t get me wrong. Those experiences are lovely, and often awe-inspiring. Sometimes, however, a spiritual moment comes from eating raw ginger at 4am, waiting 8 hours in the ER for an IV, or hovering over the toilet for hours in a daily battle with incessant nausea. I know these occurrences hardly sound like fonts of inspiration, but hear me out.
A few years ago, I heard His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak in DC. To paraphrase, he said that when you adopt a religion, you cannot selectively choose which elements of that faith you live by. For example, he stated that he can not embrace a religion that renounces worldly possessions one day and then decide to go shopping for expensive new shoes the next. In my mind, this is true in marriage, family, friendship, career, and athletics – when you embrace something (or someone) you must embrace it fully in order to reap the rewards it has to offer.
While we can’t always be selective, we CAN elect to glean the most out of every situation. We can be “good finders” and see the positive outcomes of every circumstance – no matter how difficult. Often we hear cancer survivors say that their battles with the grueling disease made them stronger people who now embrace life to the fullest. We hear of family members who lose a loved-one and go on to do great works in his/her name.
I am lucky – I have not personally battled with cancer, nor have I dealt with many untimely deaths in my family. My current trial is simple – I am pregnant and nauseas. So nauseas in fact that I recently took a leave-of-absence from a job I adore. Gone for now are my days of teaching English to 8th graders, and coaching track. In their place are days spent clutching the toilet or retching at the sight of food. I have been diagnosed with a condition called hyperemesis. It is an exaggerated version of nausea dehydration, and weight loss associated with pregnancy. Luckily, my case is relatively mild. I’ve only spent two days in the hospital and my baby is by all counts “healthy.” Many women suffer with the condition and face far more devastating fates.
While I vow to lay on the guilt once my child is old enough to realize what I’ve been through for him/her, in an odd way I’m also thankful for the experience. As the Dalai Lama implied, I can’t select the circumstances of my pregnancy. I CAN, however, glean the most out of it. With each trip to the bathroom floor, I can remember how much I love my family, my health, and my growing baby. I believe in living the full experience, both the ups and the downs because it is the combination which leads to full appreciation. In short, I believe in nausea.
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