Last night, just after I had taken my antibiotics and some ibuprofen to battle strep throat, I wrote my gratitude list for the day. My body felt gross all over from the fever and my throat felt like raw glass every time I swallowed. So in my list, I wrote “I can go to the doctor when I need to,” and “G took care of the kids so I could rest.” I added a few more lines about the kids and my excitement over BlogHer. For the last line in my gratitude list, I wrote, “This too shall pass.”
When the throat pain woke me up at 5 a.m. that morning, I thought it was postnasal drip. By lunchtime, when the pain continued to escalate, I remembered our pediatrician saying, “A sore throat without a cough is strep,” I didn’t wait any longer. Went straight to the doc in a box and felt great relief when I walked out with a positive strep test and a prescription. I know that I will feel better in about 24 hours. I know now what I’m dealing with, I’ve taken the actions that I can take. Now I rest in the knowledge that “this too shall pass.”
But where’s the comfort in “this too shall pass?” This proverb is often attributed to King Solomon, but it also appears in the works of Sufi poets. I’ve heard it told that King Solomon asked his greatest wise men to think of a sentence that is always true, under every condition and in every situation. The wise men, after much consideration, presented him with the sentence “This too shall pass.” Solomon had the sentence inscribed on a ring so that each day, he could turn the ring and remind himself of something that was always true.
We most often hear this phrase in tough times, when we remind ourselves that the pain of today will pass. The sore throat will heal. The teenager will come around. The job situation will resolve itself. The budget won’t always be this tight. Sleep will come tomorrow night.
Do we remember to say it on good days too? As my son runs towards me to give me a hug, do I put down my phone so I can hug him with both arms? When my daughter wants me to play some complicated game that she’s invented herself, do I make the time? When the frogs are croaking outside, do I sit and listen? Because this too shall pass.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned with time, with grief, with joy–is that this too shall pass. The great lie that my depression used to tell me is “you will always feel like this.” That’s not true. The great lie that anxiety tells me is “you will always feel like this.” Nope, it passes. Physical pain, emotional pain. It passes.
Every night, I sneak into my son’s room after he’s asleep to run my fingers through his hair. Because this too shall pass.