Last week I started physiotherapy treatment at a new clinic. I always feel a sense of dread when going to a new doctor or a new clinic, as if they’re going to find out that I’m lazy and useless by how I write my name. I dutifully pulled my pen out of my purse pocket, refusing to take one from the germ cup, and I filled out the forms on the clipboard, checking off the boxes and filling in my medications. I learned a few years ago to only check off the boxes that are relevant or they’ll write me off before they’ve met me. I gave the clipboard back to the chirpy woman behind the desk with the fluorescent red hair and sat down, pretending to read a magazine that is blurry because I refuse to take my reading glasses out of the house.
Then a young athletic guy calls me back with a “How’s it going for you today?” and I pause, not sure whether to say, “great, you?” or “I’m in so much pain that I can’t even dress myself.” I settle for a “good” and then we talk about the weather and the upcoming election and I sit up on a cushioned bench built for someone who weighs more than twice as much as I do. I try to correct my posture as I sit there with my legs dangling over the side, sure that I am being watched and judged for being so slouchy. I can hear hair-girl talking on the phone from the front, telling someone “see you soon, okay, b-bye” as if they are two years old. Then a pretty young woman walks over to me and introduces herself and reads my “chart” that I’ve just filled out. Did I put my pen back in my purse? Or leave it on the clipboard? Drat. She can read how old I am and she asks what my medications do and I wonder why they ask about medications if they don’t even know one that’s in commercials all the time.
“So what do you do?” she asks, with her pen ready. “I’m at home,” I reply and I put my head down. She writes “housewife” on the line. I cringe. I hate that term, ‘housewife’, as if I just cook and clean all day and spend the rest of my time watching soap operas. I want to tell her that I homeschool my kids, that every day I’m busier than I ever was when I was working, but I don’t. I just stare at the page: “housewife”. It’s happened before; I forgot to fill out the “Occupation:” line on my last passport application so I had to phone the 1-800 number and talk to a stranger about how I haven’t worked since my last application ten years ago. She too chose to write “housewife” on the line but I never physically saw it; it’s not like they print your occupation on your passport. The physio asks me more questions and then starts creating pain that causes me to almost faint. Now I’m a lightheaded housewife hanging over the side of the bench that can’t even withstand the initial treatment. She doesn’t appear to be judging me negatively but still I feel betrayed somehow. She hooks me up to the electric shock machine and leaves me to my crushing self-esteem and I want her to understand that I do so much more than cook and clean.
But then I realize that my need to defend myself is sinful and based on pride. When faced with false accusations, Jesus did not defend himself.
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. Isaiah 53:7.
The high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Matthew 26:62-63.
Once I remembered what Christ had done for me, I felt terrible for feeling the need to defend myself, especially when I had no reason to feel defensive. God has given me a job to do. I was making assumptions based on a word that I happen to dislike but in reality, I have no idea how this young woman feels about it. Perhaps her mother was at home with her and she admires her for doing so. I was wrong to judge her. I tried not to cry, lying there on my back as I felt the wetness of the hot pack soaking my shirt. I looked up at the ceiling and tried to lose myself in counting the dots, thinking about how God is watching over all of us.