You gave me reason to smile broadly recapping the birth of your Patient’s son. I love that she showed up at the doctor’s office for a regularly scheduled visit and was totally sideswiped by the doctor’s pronouncement that she needed to go to the hospital right away.
Her first reaction was not, “is he OK?” But, “I have not finished my column. I still have to publish a newspaper today. Do I really have to go now? Can’t I have a couple of hours? He isn’t due for another couple weeks.” The doctor told her that her boss would understand.
But it was as if she could not comprehend a world that did not fit into her schedule. She had planned ahead for colleagues taking over for her for just this kind of situation. But not far enough. And that was making her more anxious than the fact that she needed to be induced for the health of her child. Sadly for us she drove to the hospital as ordered, but not without first furiously emailing for a half hour in the car before she ever put it in drive. It would make Our Father proud.
He always wants humans to think they are in control, as your Patient so clearly thinks she is – despite her alleged faith. Even better, she doesn’t recognize that she wants total power over circumstances, because in her mind the control she seeks simply reflects her industrious work ethic – something to be proud of – not a fault highlighting the selfishness with which she views the world, even at the most life changing of moments.
In this regard the 10 commandments are helpful to us. You know the line that says don’t covet your neighbor’s stuff? Many people, including your Patient, take this to mean don’t be jealous of other people’s clothes or houses or relationships. That is part of it. But it also means don’t be jealous of the Enemy’s power or control – in this instance over the timing of her child’s arrival. But she has never thought about the command that way, which allows her to avoid reflecting on her behavior, a boon for us. Since most churches and people don’t think about the 10 commandments (if they think about them at all) as anything other than surface statements, it creates lots of room for us to misinform. After all, if they are seen merely as commands and not a guide for understanding life, we are given an open back door into people’s hearts.
I am excited for the insight your Patient’s behavior surrounding the birth gives us. Think about all the havoc you can wreak with a baby who doesn’t sleep or son who loves to disobey. And then multiply it by more children and their dogs barking and city street noise and a house that needs to be vacuumed every day because of all the dog hair! I see the early stages of a shouter blossoming already in how she reacted in the doctor’s office. Or could she be someone who shuts down amid the chaos of childrearing and becomes fatalistic about the outcome of each day? Either outcome would be ideal as they both reflect someone who believes unerringly that she is in control.
The key is to drive her to almost breakdown on a regular basis. A couple days of her son taking off his poopy diaper in his crib in the morning and smearing it everywhere are OK, for example. But a week of it would likely put her over the edge. Always err on the side of too little punishment. Even though it might not seem as fun now, it means avoiding an existential crisis in your Patient that could permanently derail your efforts.
Your affectionate aunt,