Oh, it was so wretched. The diverticulitis, the month long stay in the hospital, the blown IV’s, the lonely days and nights without my husband and family, the physical pain, the tears, the loneliness. The immense hunger and thirst my body experienced for days, and weeks and then months. The helplessness, the sitting in my recliner in a narcotic drugged haze as days and flew by without me. It was so terribly awful and when I was alert enough to really feel what was going on, I would cry and ache for normalcy. To be buzzing away at my job, folding laundry at home, sitting around the table with my family for a meal.
Every once in a while, I have to stop and cry about it all. There was so much I didn’t feel this year. I was pumped so full of drugs to help with the pain, that so much of my experience, especially in the hospital is a blur. I seem to remember the most traumatic moments the most, while I have vague memories of friends who stopped by to see me. I wish it could be the other way around.
This journey has marked me. It was a kind of undoing that I never saw coming. But in the undoing, I was remade somehow. There was so much of me that was like hard ground, cracked and grey with death and God came in with these sharp, jagged tools that hurt at first, but has brought up the soft, rich, life-giving soil that has been buried underneath. Over the last several months, I’ve been humbled with gratitude for what He took me through. How God loves me enough to take me through hard things, to deepen my understanding of His faithfulness and love.
Perhaps He is still doing some tilling and breaking ground in me. But I am hopeful about what is being planted and what will spring forth in a season to come.
Leaving our church was one of the most gut-wrenching decisions we were faced with all year. Six years as a part of this church family and it was home to us and our boys. As things began to unravel two years ago, we tried to cling to what we had and prayed it wouldn’t change or shift. It took a toll on my husband more than I took the time to see. I was so focused on trying to glue broken things back together that I couldn’t see how much he was hurting. When he made the decision for us to leave, I was devastated, yet I trusted his choice for our family and followed his leading. Since then, I have missed it and cried for it and grieved our leaving, wishing I could somehow go and apologize to those we hurt or tie something up with a bow and maybe that would make it all better. I’m so thankful for that church – for God putting us in this place for the time He did, for the people who reached in and touched our lives and impacted our hearts. Most of the friendships made there, I’ve learned, were for a season. And while I’ve pouted and gotten angry and cried over the loss of the community we once had, I’m grateful for the time that we had it. This perhaps is the hardest place to bring Him thanks. Even though we were the ones to leave, it feels like He took something away. And how do you thank God for isolating you?
I may not be able to thank Him for the lonely place we’ve ended up as a result of leaving this church, but I can praise Him for the giving and the taking away He does. He allows things to happen, allows hearts to callous and harden. He allows people to come in and out of our lives for a purpose and a season. He allows us to make our own choices too and He is faithful to show up in the aftermath of those consequences. And if we’ve been paying attention, He will grow and refine us in the process.
That’s what makes walking with Jesus so wondrous. We go through awful pain, we make bad choices, we wrestle with addictions, we struggle, grieve, rage and pout. And He is faithful to show up. He brings His light to every dark place in our life and somehow, He makes it good. He always, always makes it good because He is good.
While the year feels plagued with death and loss, I find myself thankful for the places He continues to invite me to stretch and grow because of it. And if I could some up anything that I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving, it’s for Him, always Him. For His love, patience, forgiveness and unending, sufficient, amazing grace that I would be so desperately lost without.