I’ve been thinking about this post for weeks. I had half of it written in my head, and lacked the time and space to sit down and hash it out with real words. I wanted to tell you about the word that God has given me for 2017, and I had all kinds of illustrations and lists of ways that I could prove how He has already worked in that word throughout my life.
Then Tuesday morning happened.
Tuesday morning, I took my son to the doctor to get a strep test. He had all of the symptoms, and we usually get strep a couple times a year, so I figured it was his turn. As we were waiting in the office though, I got a message through my author page on Facebook. The notification popped up on my phone from a name I didn’t recognize and all I saw was, “Unfortunately this is the only way I can reach you . . .”
At first I thought it was probably spam, but I opened it quickly because if I left it unread and unanswered, the rating on my author page would go down (too much to explain right now). I opened the message and read words I had honestly never expected to read.
“Your mom has had a stroke and is on her way to the hospital.”
It was all I could say as the tears poured down my face and my son wrapped his arm around me.
The rest of the day was painfully slow as we waited for news and for my 7pm boarding time to go back to Canada for the second time in two weeks.
Putting it frankly, this week has been hell for everyone. I left two sick kids (ended up being the flu) and a working husband behind to walk into a nightmare, practically blind. As I packed my suitcase I had all of these thoughts that, in hindsight, were completely ignorant. “Should I bring my curling iron and some nice clothes? I guess I should think about what to make her for dinner . . .”
We had no information about her condition until my friend went to see her and let us know that my mom was paralyzed on her right side and could not speak at all.
Oh, so . . . she won’t be leaving the hospital tomorrow . . . Even with that information, I still didn’t realize what it was going to be like. I will forever be haunted by the desperate look in her eyes as she tried to communicate things telepathically or with hand motions that always seemed to leave us asking more questions. I can not even begin to imagine her own agony, being trapped inside of herself and unable to relay her biggest concerns. We’ve both been frustrated to tears trying to understand each other.
It. Has. Been. Hell.
There are so many wonderful cliches that people could have spoken to my sister and I, truths that have become Christian rote over time, and I’m thankful that people have chosen their words carefully as we have navigated one of the worst times of our lives. I feel very permitted to feel and act exactly the way that I need to, and I feel that permission from the Father as well.
Romans 8:28 has always been an anchor verse for me, and I would love to tell you that during this time I have clung to it and many others for my hope and that I have been able to prophecy to my soul about the goodness and hope of Jesus. That’s what we should be doing, right? We should rejoice in our sufferings and know that God has a plan and blah, blah, blah, we all know the right way to respond, and it’s so very easy to encourage others to respond that way when it’s not ourselves in the situation.
What I have learned in the last four days about the goodness and hope of Jesus is that even if we aren’t necessarily feeling it, it doesn’t go away. I learned that there is permission to not actively rejoice in suffering, and to just be.
I’m beginning to wonder about the phrase, ‘when we are weak, He is strong.’
I had a moment in the bathroom the other day (one of many) where I locked the door and sank to the floor, sobbing. In my head I told the Lord, “You can be here, but please don’t speak.” I was afraid of what He would say. I felt His presence beside me on the floor, and that was enough. He began to go around my request though, and spoke through others in order to get to my heart.
I haven’t reached out to Him much this week. I haven’t had the time and the space to fall apart the way I need to, and to lay on the floor (because it’s a hospital, gross), and let Him sing over me. But that would be our normal progression through trials such as this. I don’t feel far from Him, but I feel unable to reach out to Him. My spirit lacks the strength to call for help in the way it usually does. So I’m wondering if all of the years spent reaching out, receiving, and pouring out, are what stand in the gap for me now. Are all of the hours spent worshiping and falling in love with Jesus the reason why I can stand and move and feel okay about not doing those things right now? Have I built up enough of a faith-resistance to the disease that is despair? I’m sure it’s all contributing to the fact that I am still standing.
Yesterday I was evaluating my response to Him during this time, and the phrase, “boots on the ground” kept running through my head. Very few times in my life have I needed the kind of intercession that we need now. Usually I envision myself as one of the people lifting the arms of my friends and family as they fight their battles (like Moses in Exodus 17). Rarely am I the one who is actually needing her arms lifted. But this is definitely a battle that I can not fight on my own, and the prayers of God’s people, and His mighty strength are carrying me through as my boots hit the ground every single day.
What I’m getting at, not so eloquently because my brain is fried and I can hardly remember what I’m trying to do from one second to the next, is that there is room in the midst of the battle to let your spirit be still. That there is a safe place of spiritual sustenance in the grey area of struggle when you can not open your mouth to speak out what you need from the Father. If I can not lift my voice to praise Him in my struggle, that’s okay. The perception that we need to be aggressive in our search after Him, night and day, no matter what is going on, is skewed, I believe. I think that sometimes seeking the Lord looks a lot different than what we’ve been taught. Sometimes we need to be sought after, and I have definitely felt the Father seeking me this week. I have felt His want of me, and I have felt His active love pouring over me, even though I haven’t been able to reciprocate. He has reminded me of so many times when I have told others to just be, and that it is okay for me be silent in my need and to let His presence do the work quietly.
Now back to the point I started with . . . this should probably be two blog posts, and if you made it this far, then you must really love me. I don’t know when I will have another quiet moment to get this all out though, and I really need to get it out.
The word God gave me for 2017 was: Possible.
Another abstract word, followed by the phrase, “Nothing is impossible.”
There is such a huge difference when you add those two letters, I-M, to the word ‘possible.’
This week has been impossible. Everything about it has felt impossible and the future definitely looked impossible. I’ll spare you the details for now, but suffice it to say that there are things about my mom’s potential future that are very scary for all of us. Impossible things.
But this morning, after being forced to rest and take a day off from the hospital, I got the impossible news that my mom had finally spoken real words, and was able to move her right leg. I sobbed, hearing her voice on the phone tell me excitedly, “I . . . like . . . football,” over and over again. It was better than a gift on Christmas morning.
I walked into the kitchen a while later and saw the word, “Impossible” on a magnet on the fridge. The quote around it had nothing to do with anything, but my memory jarred and the Lord reminded me of the word He had given me, and all of the silly things that I had listed on a note in my phone to tell you all about that He had made possible in my life.
It’s not about the impossible things He has already made possible though, it’s about the things He will make possible, and I do not know what all of those are yet. But this morning, something impossible was made possible, and honestly, if this one thing is all I get to attribute to that word this year, it’s more than enough.