I knew something was wrong when my buzzing cell revealed Caleb’s teacher was calling me. He collided with another kid during gym, he’s complaining of blurry vision, I need to pick him up.
Once a week my homeschooled kids join the students at a private school for a day of music, art, physical education, and school life. They look forward to their Fridays and truthfully, so do I.
I fought the rising anxiety as I put Joshua’s coat on him and rushed him out the door. During the 20 minute drive, I called our pediatrician’s office and informed them of a possible concussion, asking if I should bring him to the clinic or to ER. I held my breath, hoping she would say bring him to the clinic. The idea of setting foot into the ER terrified me.
The last time I’d been there, my daughter had died. I could not go back. I just couldn’t.
The receptionist told me to bring him to the hospital. I took a deep breath, then two, but they didn’t come close to settling the anxiety attack that was growing. My mind frantically searched for a way out, of someone else who could bring him. My husband was hundreds of miles away. There was no way around this. It was me.
Sometimes God forces us into situations which we wouldn’t go into by choice. I don’t mean tragic situations like losing my Rebekah. I mean the fearful situations, ones we avoid, ones that make us uncomfortable or anxious. Sometimes they are needed for growth. In my case, it was needed for healing.
Caleb knew I’d be afraid to go and began to protest the second he set foot in the van. He’s a good kid, this one, fiercely protective of me and just as hurt. I smiled and firmly hushed him. He needed to know I was ok and that he came first. I felt anything but ok.
Another deep breath as we pulled into the parking lot. I glanced at the side of the brick building, remembering sitting in the front of the ambulance that horrible night. I can not think about this now. Once again, I’m forced to pull myself together. I am convinced that people aren’t strong because they want to be, they are strong because they have no other choice.
I parked and unbuckled the little boys from their car seats, wondering what I had in my bag to keep them quiet. We stepped inside. It was all the same. The smells, the sounds, the nurses. I glanced to the right. Large sliding doors separating the chaos of an emergency department from the waiting area. I remember those doors. I came in and out of them to inform my family what was going on with Rebekah. Fear on their faces, prayers on their lips. Talk of her being airlifted, her blood pressure was up, her little body fighting for life.
After signing Caleb’s name on the sheet, we sat down to wait. Joshua and Joel found cars in my bag and began driving them on the germ-laden chairs. A mental note was made to put those vehicles in the dishwasher when we got home.
I glanced at the desk I sat at the night they asked me a dozen questions. I couldn’t remember anything. Insurance? Yes, we have it. Address? Ummmm, my daughter was in a large room full of strange machines. She was dying. Date of birth? She’s 8. Only 8!
I smiled at Caleb and asked how he felt. Eyes still blurry, but he was watching me. Deep breath. My phone is buzzing. People are worried about Caleb. They are worried about me. “I’d rather die than be here” I text to my sister. She offers to leave work to come sit with me. “YES!” my head screams. “No, I’m ok” my fingers type. I can do this. No need to alarm Caleb.
Long story short
I’m not going to go into any more detail as I think you have the idea. Caleb is fine, the little boys were kept quiet thanks to a bag of trail mix (raisins for Joel and peanuts for Joshua) and we left without a single person seeing the fear in my heart.
My point for telling you all this is that I would have NEVER gone back to that hospital if I hadn’t been forced. I was terrified to relive the memories, or even face them. Some things haunt you like that. They have such a strong hold on you that even the thought sends you whirling.
It seems to me that God felt it necessary for me to face those memories. Why? What good could it possibly do to make me go through it again? To see, feel, hear, and smell the worst night of my life?
Maybe He needed to remind me again that He was with me. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” This did feel like the valley of the shadow of death. “thou art with me…”
Doubt mocks me “How could you possibly believe in a loving God when you are in the very building your daughter died in?” My faith is persistent, “thou art with me”.
And you know what? He was with me. I made it through that visit. I made it through the rest of the day and the next. And when I finally melted down into a sobbing heap, He was with me there too. With my own strength gone, exhausted from the weight of it all and worn by the magnitude of my tears, He picked me up and helped me stand again.
Perhaps we forget that God is with us, leading and strengthening us until we are forced to face our fear. When we see our frailty, our mortality, our inability to save ourselves, we realize how desperately we need our Creator.
In my case, this was needed for healing. I have made it through a hundred firsts, each one horrible. But each time I am overwhelmed with pain, I discover that I get to the other side and that pain doesn’t kill me. Those wounds begin to heal, little by little, month by month as if a soothing salve is spread over it. I start to breathe a little easier and sleep a little more until I am once again faced with something outside of my control and it starts all over.
What about you?
I’m talking about my grief here, but what is it that you experience? Fear, anxiety, unforgiveness, insecurity, bitterness, regret, hurt? What situations do you need to face in order to heal or overcome? Life is full of painful experiences. We are all required to play a part in situations we would rather not.
Truthfully, I would’ve stayed in my fear. I would not have gone to that hospital EVER again, but God doesn’t want us to live in our fear. He wants to liberate us, free us from that bondage. Do I feel freed? I don’t know. I DO know that the next time one of my kids needs me to take them to the ER, I won’t freak out. So maybe God had them in mind also!
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