Yesterday I was checking in with my sister, showing off the extensive personal protective equipment I’m now wearing at work (for which I am very thankful). Every day I go to work in a t-shirt with a funny saying on it and some jeans, then change into scrubs, put on the dedicated pair of shoes I leave at the office, add an N95, then add a surgical mask. Put on a surgical cap (just started yesterday). Add my glasses. Shove my pockets full of a pager (circa 1992), cell phone, AirPods (don’t judge me), patient list, and ink pen.
I snapped the photo and sent it to her. She says, “You look like a cancer patient.” Great, that’s exactly what I wanted to hear.
But because my head is a really screwed up place, I responded with, “Yeah, I thought that too, but I didn’t want to say it and give God any new ideas for ways to torture me.” Because her head is an equally screwed up place, she responds with a laughing/crying face and says, “It’s funny cause it’s true!” (Our crazy is genetic, but at least we understand each other).
Anyway, then I say, “I type it out like He can’t read.” And then she says the perfect thing. “Jesus can spell!”
It’s the perfect thing to say because it’s exactly what my mom would always tell us. If you didn’t grow up in The South, in a Bible-believing, Jesus-fearing household, you might not know it, but the quickest way to hell in my mom’s opinion was saying bad words. She would always let us speak our minds about almost anything, but we had to do it without cussing. She hated when we said any kind of bad words. Somehow when we said them, they got blamed on her. She said we were a reflection of her, and we brought dishonor, and she couldn’t stand it. She usually sighed really loudly and said “I’m a failure!”
Growing up, the next best thing to saying a cuss word was to use the first letter. Like if you bumped your toe on the dresser, instead of “the D word” you would just say “Oh D!” Before that we had tried “dang” and “durn” but she said “well you might as well say the real word if you’re going that far” so we resorted to just letters.
Or if someone was being a horrible person and there was just no other adequate word to describe her, you would say, “She’s such a B”. You get the idea. Well, mom hated that almost as much as she hated “Freaking.”
When we started spouting off our letters she would say, “Jesus can spell!” We might be (my brother, sister, and I) potty mouths sometimes, but it’s not because my mom didn’t try because Lord knows she did. My brother ate more bars of soap than I can count, and I was always in the process of repenting— mom said she knew guilt worked on me so it was better than soap. “Jesus can spell” was the perfect way to remind us that we needed to examine the intentions of our hearts while giving us a laugh and usually diffusing the anger behind whatever had us mad enough to cuss in the first place.
No, I don’t think cancer is funny. And no, I don’t think it’s funny that my mind is such a scary place. And no I don’t actually think God is trying to torture me, I think He just hasn’t stopped as many bad things from happening lately as I wish He would have.
But I do think it’s funny that me and my sister have the same sense of humor because we both got it from my mom. As long as we’re around with our sick senses of humor, we really can’t say she’s gone. And now every time I gear up for the day, I can smile a little. So thanks for that Anna. And Jesus, just in case you’re reading this, don’t take the cancer thing seriously. I’ve had enough for one year.