You’re in Paradise. Take the Advil.

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?


  1. Ken Rolph

    This is often underpinned by our background. People can come to expect the worst and get used to facing up to it. They actually have no strategy for dealing with anything else. This can lead to conversations like the following.

    “Look at that blue sky. It’s a lovely day, isn’t it.”

    “Not for people who have cancer.”

    Now, neither of us talking has cancer. No one in our immediate families has cancer. In fact I can’t think of anyone known to both of us who has anything more than a few sunspots (all Australians have to deal with minor skin cancers). I can’t imagine where that comment came from. It’s as if, when a good situation is developing, you have to jump in first and spoil it. Because it’s going to end up badly anyway.

    Personally I’m having the best time of my life currently. There have been difficult times and situations before. But they pass. I return to happiness as my default position. Some people return to unhappiness as their default position. I don’t know what you can do about this. But, as you say, it does make you want to put their head on the anvil and hammer some sense into them.

    1. philangelus

      Oh, WOW. Okay, that’s beyond Eeyore territory.

      I wonder sometimes if people feel like they’re being extra virtuous when they suffer things they could have avoided. Don’t get me wrong — as a Catholic, I totally get onboard with the idea of offering up our pain, but there’s enough pain in life that we don’t need to seek it out. I dislike taking Advil myself. I’d rather just avoid medications when possible, but I also know that if I make that decision, I shouldn’t let it affect anyone else. If I need to drive and I have a nasty headache and it’s making me snappy with the kids, I’ll take the Advil. It’s not their problem that I don’t like taking Advil and it’s not their problem (and shouldnt’ be their problem) that I have a headache.

      Deliberately looking for the dark cloud inside every silver lining, though, I think you’re right. Some people dont’ feel comfortable when they’re happy, as if being down all the time protects them against the world yanking the rug out from under them.

  2. Karen Clayton

    I love God. I even write about Him. My middle grade urban fantasy, Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers, is about nephilims and their relationship with God. Unfortunately, I tend to be a bit stubborn myself or maybe just scared. God has given me some really great opportunities and I’ve either been too slow to respond or just plain scared. The result – lost opportunities. Still, I try my best to follow Him and hope that He will bless my life. I’ll keep popping my motrin (my drug of choice) and try to realize that I too am in Paradise. Maybe one of these days, I’ll finally take that leap of faith.