Just yesterday, someone was telling me about a trip she’d taken with her elderly mother. It sounded like a fantastic trip, the kind you take once in a lifetime — and given her mother’s age, that’s likely to be the case. And I think she had a good time, but every so often she’d talk about how her mother made it difficult to enjoy themselves on the trip by being, in general, a difficult person.
In addition to the other she-created-these difficulties, the mother has difficulty walking due to joint inflammation. Her doctor has apparently told her she can take Advil for this, and when she takes it, it helps. But on the trip, she refused to take the Advil, and this meant they couldn’t walk around everywhere they’d have liked to go, and they couldn’t move quickly, and they couldn’t take a bus because it was too high for her to step up onto the bus.
In the middle of telling us this, the daughter exclaimed, as if at her mother, “You’re in Paradise! Take the Advil!”
That keeps coming back to me today, and I began to wonder: are we really in Paradise? And when aren’t we taking our Advil?
Because it’s stubbornness on the part of this woman’s mother. Having met the mother, I’ll say there probably isn’t what you or I would consider a “reason” not to be taking it. For example, if Advil caused her stomach cramps, we’d be sympathetic. But no, she doesn’t like to take Advil. Why? Because she doesn’t like to take it.
When we get into Heaven, is it maybe not Heaven for us so much if we refuse to accept the things God gives us? Since I assume we retain our free will even after choosing God in eternity, is it possible to shuffle around Heaven clinging to our emotional baggage from Earth? How about us still here on Earth? When God gives us a Giant Clue, how often do we refuse to accept it, just from stubbornness? Or even, if we’re blunt with ourselves, how often does God give us a gift and we refuse to take it? A real gift, like the urge to let go of a grudge we’re holding, only we cling nice and tight. Why? Because we’re holding a grudge, that’s why.
Is there that same desperation in God’s voice? “You could be in Paradise! Take the graces!”
We’ve been given so much, literally everything we have. We didn’t give ourselves life, or this world, or the choice of being born into a culture where we’d get educated enough to read about Paradise and Advil. These all came to us without us meriting it, so really, we’re in a kind of Paradise. What’s our Advil?