We’ve had a challenging week in our family.
I’m still debating, as I write, if I even want to get into this yet. It’s so fresh.
Someone out there needs to hear that it is possible to have impractical, unbelievable peace in the middle of emotional chaos.
Because I’m feeling it.
And at the same time, I’ve had bone-crushing uncertainty and stress.
A couple of weeks ago I thought this blog would be about my husband’s hip replacement surgery.
It was scheduled for yesterday.
We planned it more than a month ahead. We made changes in our house and prepared to possibly be without income for a few weeks, getting the kids used to the idea and spreading the word to friends and family.
The surgeon’s office was less thorough, so we found ourselves at a pre-op visit to the hospital the day after Christmas, as well as an impromptu stop at the surgeon’s to communicate some of our concerns.
And quite unexpectedly there was another visit last Friday to the primary care office to be released for surgery.
The call my husband got at the end of a long work day led to a weekend of contemplating his mortality. Surgery was put on hold because of high white blood cell counts, and after more tests early Friday, a couple types of cancer were mentioned.
Just enough to make your imagination go round the bend.
So of course we both did what we know to never do.
We googled the ugly words.
After thirty-four years of marriage with this man, I was not surprised by his “it is what it is” attitude. Or the silent funeral planning behind his brooding eyes. Questions followed about life insurance and his desire that all our kids be able to have college paid for out of it.
Covering all the bases.
Having all that time to think could have been devastating if it weren’t for this.
Jesus. And hope.
At first I didn’t want to tell anyone.
I was headed to Celebrate Recovery an hour after we heard the news. In the safety and support of my open share small group, I began processing my own thoughts and feelings before telling any of the kids.
My CR women freely put aside their own hard things to hug and love on and support me that night. And I found clarity that comes from seeing what really matters.
Over the next day all of our children heard personally about this new development, and we counted down the hours to Monday morning when we could make more appointments.
Our care group met Saturday so my husband and I both were surrounded by men and women who love and care deeply for us.
Our kids each took in the information in their own ways, and I’m sure are going through many different stages of understanding and processing. Those first couple of days were hard for all of us. They will ease up in time.
By Sunday my husband and I had thought all the thoughts we could stand. And talked about many of them with each other. And each of us had expressed that we were okay with wherever God takes us in this, whatever lies ahead.
Because we know where we’re headed.
Even knowing, I still cried a lot of tears and held even more back. Who can understand God’s plans?
But in all fairness, do we ever question why we have good times, when everything is going right? Do we ever wonder why God thinks we deserve easy?
We’ve learned in our life together, this man and I, that God is in control. And that it is always better to obey and follow him, no matter how hard the path looks to us.
So we went to church and answered questions about the surgery and why was it canceled and what does this mean.
We heard about friends with those same scary conditions and how unlifechanging they actually are.
And we breathed a little easier by day’s end.
But not before I had an unexpected moment.
It was during the final song. I was choked up. So I just bowed my head and said the only words I could put together.
And immediately an image came into my mind. That even if … it’s all good.
Fourteen years ago our pastor was killed in a car accident. In the hours and days and now years since I’ve seen God provide for his wife and young daughters in intimate, personal, miraculous ways. It was hard. But there was hope.
I thought a lot about that time over the weekend, the strength that was given to my friend as she navigated the unthinkable task of telling her girls that their daddy was with Jesus in heaven.
She didn’t get that strength until the moment she needed it.
And as I cried out to Jesus to ease my own fears for my husband, standing next to him in our church, a picture came into my mind.
Even if my husband were to leave this life way sooner than any of us would want, there would be a beautiful result.
He would meet our baby first in heaven.
Monday came and God quite directly provided an appointment with the hematologist/oncologist for that same day – a sudden cancelation that was no big deal for God to arrange. And oodles of blood tests and orders for an ultrasound.
And the very positive opinion of the doctor that after all our worrying, this wasn’t going to be a big deal. Even the hip surgery will get rescheduled after a solid diagnosis and some monitoring of his blood counts.
Numb from the whole thing I decided to go to Monday night Bible study, and I read words that have always been a comfort to me.
“He was gathered to his people.”
An Old Testament saying I had always loved to read, as it gave even my little girl imagination a picture of people I knew had died greeting someone else at the time of their death, gathering them in to a family, welcoming them home.
I had always pictured grandmas and grandpas in the mix, but now I added babies.
I have no fear of death. For me or my husband.
I want it to be a long way off, when our children are all grown and settled into their own families, raising our grandchildren and teaching them the things that matter.
Because when they go through scary, uncertain times like the one we are navigating right now, I want them to know the bottom line.
That God is not just a nice thought, but a real and powerful being. That he created us because the idea of eternity with us pleased him. That when we choose to follow him we will have bad things happen, but we have the absolute certainty that when they do he is bigger and stronger than anything that comes against us.
And he WILL work EVERYTHING for our good.
So as we live the next day and week and month with no guarantees, we can know many things for certain.
God is real. His love is unstoppable. His peace is unexplainable. He has made a people for himself from all of us who believe.
And no matter when any of us who follow this amazing God die in this body, we will be gathered in to our people.
And living life with so many of them now is just a bonus.