There’s trauma in life that leaves such a scar, when you remember it, you relive every detail: smells, sounds, even the weather. Nothing is missed. You feel like you’re there.
What’s worse than reliving a terrible event, is facing a repeat of it.
When the event harms not yourself, but someone you love, there’s no greater form of torture.
For me, this trauma is my daughter’s congenital heart disease.
Heart disease in general has been a thorn in my family’s side. It nearly took my mother. My grandmother’s life was cut short by it. I even have a mild form of heart disease myself. Unfortunately, my daughter needed her first surgery merely weeks after being born.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride.
As a teenager, I grew a hatred for the smell of hospitals. Back then, the smell represented my grandmother’s suffering. After her first heart attack, my grandmother spent far too much time recovering inside of one. I was very close to her. The thought of losing her cut deep.
Bad as that was it was nothing in comparison to watching my child suffer.
Surgery upon surgery. Months in recovery. Oxygen and feeding tubes. Blood thinners. Being told my husband and I will more than likely outlive our child. There’s nothing like it.
I wish she could leave the possibility of another surgery behind her. I wish she could live a life free from hospital rooms, PICC lines, and coding.
I’m well aware of how blessed we are to still have her.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful.
God has blessed her with being born in a time where medicine has advanced enough to keep her alive.
My grandmother lost two sisters within months of life. Both are thought to have been heart disease, but no one is sure of how they died. Back then, medicine wasn’t what it is now.
So believe me, I know how fortunate we are.
With that said, this rollercoaster ride has taken a new turn. You see, we were told that our daughter had improved. The doctors were convinced she wouldn’t need another (major) surgery for years. I say ‘major’ because cath labs are nothing in comparison to open-heart surgery. More than likely, she’ll always need an occasional cardio cath throughout the rest of her life.
As for the kind of surgery that last time required three months in the hospital for her to heal, well, we thought we were in the clear, at least, for a while.
It was a nice little break.
Sure, we still had to take precautions. We always will. That part is easy. Having your daughter code twice after a major surgery due to being under anesthesia too many times, that’s not easy. That borders on the edge of emotional hell. I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy.
If you’re reading this and your kids are healthy, don’t take their health for granted. Not one moment of it. Thank God for it.
For the rest of you, the ones who know this emotional hell, I hope you’ll find some encouragement in what I have to say next. Because you know that when things are the worst, that’s when an outsider is going to sink their claws into your already broken world and try to rip apart whatever’s left of it. From some hoe making a move on your husband, to a family member going back on a promise, to insensitive demands from a so-called friend, to life changes like a forced move, or an emergency like a plumbing disaster or even a natural disaster like a hail storm or tornado. These seem to always happen when you’re already beaten down, not just with having to watch your child suffer and dong your best to take care of them (often with little to no sleep) but with the worry of losing them slapping you in the face everywhere you turn.
Through my suffering, God has given me wisdom. I’m going out a limb to share it, because I’ll bet there’s at least one new mom out there, living in the trenches of the hardest battle any parent can face, who needs it.
First of all, you will NEVER find the strength you need from the hearts or mouths of humans. Only God can help you through this task. Your child is counting on you. There is no greater help than the Creator of the cosmos. He is the one you must seek daily, just to gather enough strength to get through.
Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. Psalm 33:17-18 NLT
It’s not only okay to give every single one of your burdens and concerns to God, it’s what he wants from YOU!
Hear me as I pray, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming!” Psalm 27:7-8
There is nothing more valuable that you can give to God than your heart.
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:16-17 NLT
This is my lifeblood. My relationship with God has made it possible to carry the weight of having my daughter in recovery from one major surgery (anticipating another) while on oxygen and feeding tubes, shortly after moving to a place I’d never been, a thousand miles from home and everyone I knew. This was with her twin brother who also needed my attention, and when her older sister was just diagnosed with autism. All while my soldier husband was out of state for six months. I was no longer plugged into a church. I didn’t know anyone. I had three AMAZING little ones to tend to and needed support. I found more than I could ever dream of the hands of my Lord.
Even if you have an amazing support group with family, friends, and church, it’s still not enough. You need God. He is the most faithful support anyone can have.
Not everyone has support from family and friends in their lives. Whether it’s due to military service, some other job that requires you to move out of state, death of your family, or being born into a household of deadbeats, you’re not alone. Seek out the one who will never let you down.
Even if my mother and father abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. Psalm 27:10 NLT
Don’t be afraid to ask the great Comforter to bring family into your life. God will do it. He did for me. While I lived as a care-giver without any human support for six months, less than a year after my husband came back home, an amazing woman moved in next-door. She became a mentor to me. I will never forget the impact she had on my life. God will bring family to you. But you have to ask.
I also want to untangle you from one of society’s favorite hooks: NO! You’re not obligated to please anyone. If it’s “too hard” for them to understand what you and your child are going through, especially to the point where they are putting their needs above your child’s, you don’t owe them a thing! It’s perfectly alright to cut them out of your life. It doesn’t make you a bad Christian. Don’t let the dogma and guilt of man break you down to less than what your child needs. You’ve got to be everything for them. Pick up your sandal and shake the dust off at anyone who thinks otherwise.
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Matthew 10:14 NIV
While you may or may not be preaching the gospel to the offender, I know God’s love applies in this situation, too. He’s led me right to this scripture after being hurt before. It comforted me. I pray it will comfort you, too.
Now, that being said, you must also forgive ANYONE who has hurt you.
Remember when I said God will bring family to you, but you have to ask?
Well, Jesus was very specific about what we need to do in order to have our prayers answered.
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:22-25 NLT
There it is.
Give your heart to God.
Make time every single day to pray and dig into His word. This is where you’ll find strength.
Remove toxicity and anything that drains you out of your life.
Ask for comfort and the family of God where you’re at.
Believe with your full heart that God will deliver these things to you; strength, comfort, relief, forgiveness, family, and everything else you need.
Don’t be afraid.
You are loved and you’re certainly not alone.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11 NIV