I haven’t blogged in awhile and honestly wasn’t planning on doing so. But for the last 12 days I’ve been left mostly sitting with my thoughts and fears swirling aimlessly in my head. And right now my youngest is at preschool. A two hour period that use to be my dedicated running time. A time I loved and cherished. But I am no longer allowed to run or do any other form of exercise. So instead I just need to write, even though I’m unsure I’ll ever share it. For now, this is really just an attempt at my own personal form of therapy. A way to unload and process. A step forward.
The story really starts many months back. You see, my life has generally been pretty good. Things have mostly come easily for me and the plans I set have somehow always found a way. Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs and disappointments the same as everyone. But I cannot deny how immensely blessed I am. But last year things stopped coming so easily. At first I felt disappointed, but still hopeful. But the more time that passed, the more worried I became. Maybe my plans wouldn’t actually work out. Maybe my life wouldn’t play out the way I had always imagined. I prayed endlessly and lit candle after candle. But still I found nothing but silence. Then one day in December three happy announcements all came in on the exact same day I received yet another heart-wrenching no. I sat upstairs in the bathroom of my childhood home, hot, desperate tears pouring down my face. I didn’t understand. I hit my rock bottom, or so I thought.
Only about a week later I found an answer. Not exactly the answer I wanted, but at least the silence was broken. God yelled down to me in his own way “Do you still not understand? Is your heart hardened? Do your eyes fail to see? Do your ears fail to hear? Do you not remember?” He was telling me simply to have faith. To let go and to trust in his plan. (You can read more about this part of the story here on the Faith.ND site). So I did. I let go. I learned again to have faith, to trust, to be still. And as if all along God had just wanted to teach me a lesson, two weeks later I got my yes.
So all seemed well. I was beyond ecstatic. I went to bed every night with prayers of thanksgiving and woke every morning with a grateful heart and an uncontrollable smile. I embraced the discomfort that was bound to accompany my yes and I refused to rush through any of it. I wanted to enjoy it, every last minute of it.
Then the Friday before Easter week began, my world came crashing down around me. In a split second I went from perfectly fine to horribly not. Sitting in the emergency room, my worst nightmare and greatest fear began to play out. At one point I was told it was over, hope was lost. The hot, desperate tears returned and I found my true rock bottom in the form of pain and heartache that accompanies your greatest nightmare. I just remember laying there saying “no” over and over again as if not believing it would make it not so. Nurses came in a flurry and rush around me poking and prodding me. I was asked for my preference on where to start my IV and which finger to prick and I just didn’t care. Didn’t even understand why they were asking. Just do what you need to do. The pain in my heart was spreading so far and deep through my body. I didn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. I sat there and bargained with God. I promised him if he would intervene I would be a better person, a better mother. I swear, I promise, just please. Please, please, please.
A short while later we were given a sliver of hope. We were told to be “cautiously optimistic.” I grabbed that optimism and held on with all my might refusing to let it go. Feeling slowly began to re-enter my body. My heart calmed slightly. It wasn’t over yet. We were in the emergency room for a few more hours, waiting for answers, desperate to know. We left that night with an unclear picture. We were told over and over again just to take it “one day at a time,” to “wait and see,” to “hope.” And as unsatisfying as that was, it was far better than what we had first been told.
The next day I felt raw. My fears and worries produced a sleepless night of tossing and turning and nightmares of blood; images I tried to suppress but kept surfacing and replaying in my mind in the darkest hours of night. I was left both physically and emotionally exhausted. I had to wait until Monday for a follow up appointment and hopefully more answers. I spent most of that weekend in bed, trying to distract myself with work and prepare myself mentally for the worst.
Each advent and lent my sisters and my mom and I do a book club. We read a book related to the season and break it up by chapters for each of us to reflect on in an email. This season I had not kept up with my readings. I had started off strong and fallen off after my reflection had come and gone. So in my waiting, I pulled out my book. I had promised God in the emergency room I would be a better person and mother and I might as well start here. Each page I read seemed like it was written specifically for me for this specific moment in my life:
“Jesus says “I will not leave you desolate: I will come to you”…the fear and grief that comes with not wanting to lose the one they loved most has them struggling to understand. Often times we worry about future events because we fear loss, pain, or the unknown. It is in times such as this that we must remember what Jesus said: he is with us now, and he will be there in the future, in our pain, problems and struggles…say “Jesus I trust you,” and let it go.”
That week was spent restlessly sitting around and trying to finish as much work as possible as graduation was and is quickly approaching. I was told to be “sedentary.” Yet life with a 3 year old and 5 year old doesn’t make that very realistic. My husband, being the wonderful man and father he is, jumped in and took on many roles. He works long, hard days and hurries to get home to help make dinner, drive to soccer practice and handle bath time. He’s taken on the laundry and runs errands at 9 pm at night. He gets up night after night with our three year old who still refuses to sleep. I hate not being able to do more, to jump in, to offer help. But he has done this every day, happily and with no complaints. The days are long though and our youngest doesn’t understand why I can’t lift him to go potty or wash his hands or get him in the car. He doesn’t understand why I am not taking him to the park and running around. Why we aren’t going on our regular runs in the morning and stopping at the playground to play. Why I can’t go to the store and lift him into the cart. I’ve pleaded with him and tried my best to explain, but some days are harder than others.
More doctor appointments came and went with the same results. Everything is still the same. Nothing has gotten worse. Remain “sedentary” and just take it “one day at a time,” we’ll “wait and see” and “hope.”
On Good Friday I sat in the pew at church, prayers pouring from me. On that same day many years ago, Jesus picked up his cross and carried it. He too had prayed that this cup would pass from him, but followed that prayer with a prayer for his Father’s will to be done. I knew this was my cross. That I have no choice but to pick it up; that I most likely will have to, and in all seriousness will be lucky do to so, carry it for 24 more weeks. Sitting there though, I struggled with praying that God’s will will be done. I prayed more that his will would be the same as my hopes and prayers. I lacked faith in that moment. But I just couldn’t bring myself to that point, to pray for something beyond the best possible outcome.
On Holy Saturday my sister sent me an article. It was about the meaning of that day. Of the world being in waiting; how most of our days are times of waiting. And how we as Christians should wait – not in despair, not in passivity, but rather in hope. This situation is my Holy Saturday and I will most likely live perpetually in Holy Saturday. I will be in waiting for months to come for my own personal Easter, but I’m choosing to wait in hope. I found some peace that day. For the first time in over a week my fear was turning to trust and faith. My mind still worries, but my heart has been learning once again to believe that God knows what he is doing, that he will not leave me, that he has a plan. I’m waiting in hope and finding some peace in that form of waiting.
I do not know what this outcome will be. I pray and beg for good results and believe deep down inside of me that all will be well in the end. Despite how much I hate sitting around and no longer living the life I once knew, I will give up running and moving and being the person I am to get us closer to a happy ending. Each new day is met with thanksgiving, for truly nothing is a guarantee. In my prayers, before I begin asking God to help us and to fix things, I try first to offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank you for getting us this far. Thank you for allowing us one more day. Thank you for not letting our story play out that night in the horrible way we thought it would. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Each day also brings a little more hope. We made it one more day. We can make it another. I imagine there are still some ups and downs to come, but I will remain in hopeful waiting, working on trusting and believing in God’s plan for us all; believing my Easter morning will arrive at the end of this long journey. That God will help me carry my cross. That Holy Saturday will come to an end eventually and we will rejoice in the break of a new day many months from now.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 is my mantra these days. I believe God has plans for our little one. Plans to not harm, but to give him/her hope and a future. So for now I will carry this cross. I will wait in hope and live in Holy Saturday so that those plans to not harm but to prosper may be done according to God’s will. And so that future, our future, can be one for a family of five.
(Image taken from cottoncastlekids.com)