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The Not-So-Common Cold

The Life Less Traveled

October 02, 2013
I'm petitioning the American Medical Association to change the name of the common cold. Think about it. The common cold? When was the last time you had a cold that felt common? It's miserable. It's disgusting. It's uncommon at best.  

So, how about we call it like we see it and go with a term that's a bit more accurate? I'm thinking something like the "Viral Apocalypse" or the "The Green Plague" or maybe "The Mucous that Ate Manhattan."

Just think of it. The next time you shamble into work coughing and sneezing your head off and somebody asks what's wrong, you could say, "Viral Apocalypse." Finally, you'd have a term that genuinely described how you felt.

I could have used this medical rebranding this past week as I gradually lost my fight with the Green Plague. By the weekend, I was flat on my back wondering if I needed to call an ambulance or if I'd been run over by one.  

My wife kept trying to convince me it was more than a cold, that even the Mucous That Ate Manhattan wouldn't make me feel this bad. But there was no way I was going to go to the doctor for a cold. How dumb would that be? Wouldn't it make more sense just to sit around and whine?

Yet, my heartless wife wouldn't even let me enjoy that. Every time I complained about the not-so common cold, she lobbed another "Go to the doctor" right back at me. It was a tennis match of words I was destined to lose.

Eventually, I got so miserable I broke and ended up at a walk-in clinic just down the road. Turns out I had a nasty sinus infection. Turns out I needed antibiotics. Turns out I should have gone to the doctor the first time my wife told me to.

Sometimes, though, admitting I need help doesn't come easily. Whether my problem is physical or spiritual, my first instinct is just to try to tough it out. The same stubborn streak that kept me away from the doctor kept me out of church for many years.

As with my sinus infection, I knew something was wrong inside of me, but I didn't want any help with it. I could handle it. Sure, I felt a loneliness I couldn't quite explain. Yes, I was plagued by a streak of selfishness that made me feel ashamed. I thought, if I just sucked it up, though, I could somehow make life work on my own.

But, eventually, I broke. Eventually, I did what I should have done in the first place. I reached out. I asked for help. I found God waiting to not just patch me up, but to give me a brand-new heart that would fill my soul with new life.

I don't know what's making you sick this week, whether it's relationships or finances or an inner battle that just can't seem to win. Maybe it's actual physical health issues or something else entirely. Whatever it is, take my advice and save yourself time and misery by asking for help with the things you can never handle on your own.

There's no trophy for toughing it out. There's no blue ribbon for sucking it up. But there's a God known as the Great Physician who loves to help those who are smart enough to ask.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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