A young woman, who we will call Laxmi, brought by her mother-in-law. Sheba has been holding the fort as the only doctor for the past 10 days and so naturally saw Laxmi.
Laxmi complained of abdominal pain. She had a child a year ago. Sheba asked her if she was pregnant. Laxmi said she wasn't. Sheba asked about her last period - she said that she had not had any since she gave birth to her child whom she was still breast-feeding.
Sheba saw that her abdomen was distended. "Are you pregnant?" she asked Laxmi again. "No."
Sheba asked Martha the nurse on duty to take Laxmi to the examination room and prepare her for a pelvic examination. Routine stuff.
Martha suddenly bursts in the door: "Doctor-ji, please come quickly! The baby's head is coming out!"
Sheba moves over the examination room and sure enough, the labour has already been productive. A child is very much on its way! A trolley is organised quickly and mother and child (with mother-in-law in tow) are wheeled to the delivery room. Our able nurses assist and a healthy baby girl is safely delivered at our beloved HBM Hospital here in Lalitpur.
So here is the question: Did Laxmi know she was pregnant.
She denied Sheba's questioning and yet minutes later gave birth to a baby girl. How is that possible?
Option 1: Deception. Laxmi knew but didn't want her mother-in-law (and various sundry others) to know. Her response to Sheba was a clear distortion of the truth.
Option 2: Sheer naivete. Somehow, despite already being a mother, Laxmi was guileless and unclear about another life growing within her and causing her body to swell and finally enough abdominal pain that she sought help from a hospital.
Option 3: Unstable mind. Laxmi is in a situation where for some reason she cannot discern what is going on around her. The questions that Sheba gives her as a doctor are not understood. She is unable to respond properly. A child is born.
Option 4: Denial. The bulge is there. But Laxmi doesn't want it to be. And so it isn't. If I don't talk about it, it will go away. But of course, it doesn't. And one fine day, the baby appears.
But my guess is most likely that we are dealing with denial. A straight out deception is just too hard to keep going. But denial? Well the human heart is almost infinitely able to trick itself.
And so the thoughts have wandered to my own little bit of real-estate. Who am I and what do I 'deny' in my life? Even a short internal examination brings up a fair amount of stuff that just doesn't fit with reality. I think of myself as a "people person" - "friendly and approachable"... and yet I know that many people come to my desk with some amount of trepidation. My scowl often comes out when I think of myself as a "smiler."
And what of other things that are 'there but I don't want to admit it'?
The end of the year is a good time to reflect. Is there something that I just don't want to admit - be it out of pride, or fear of being considered a loser? Something that I am holding on to, something that is clear to everyone else except me?
Or perhaps even worse - something that I know that I should be doing - but keep procrastinating. Keep pushing aside. Keep not wanting to address because it is 'hard' and 'uncomfortable'...
Our Lord was no stranger to the two-facedness of humanity. In His deep love for His disciples He rebuked them, and welcomed them back to Him with deep biting grace. At one point Jesus said that if we hold to his teaching we are truly His disciples. We will know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8.31-32). Truth must be out. Truth must be acted on.
As I step into 2019 I want this to be true of me. No more denial. No more excuses. No more pushing-off-until-tomorrow. Deep breath. Quiet down. Spend time listening. Dare to look honestly. Write down. Pray up. Live out.