In the weeks and days before surgery, my mind was gone. At least three times specifically, I can remember driving through Murfreesboro, where I drive to at least twice a week, most of the time more often than that, and where I have been driving to since I was 16 years old. And as I would be driving to wherever I was headed, I would suddenly snap to myself and realize that I wasn't headed the right direction, or that I had no idea how I had gotten to that side of town, or I had completely forgotten where I was headed to begin with. The day of surgery, while in the waiting room, I got ridiculously sick. As many hospital stays and procedures and surgeries as we've been through, that was the first time I ended up hugging the toilet over it. It hit me hard.
Friends and family said encouraging things and kept me uplifted, let me know they were praying for Christian and offered to help in any way they could, and those things really did keep me going. But no words could possibly ease my anxieties. It was so hard that it was beyond what I could handle as a person, as a mother.
When all was said and done, and the surgery ended up being a breeze for all of us (if surgery can ever be a breeze at all), we all breathed a huge sigh of relief and literally were shouting for joy in the waiting room when the surgeon came in to tell us how it went. The surgery actually went much better than we could have ever hoped or imagined and Christian did so well that you would have thought the surgery was just minor and routine. It's almost unexplainable how things went as well as they did. (Although I can totally explain it (: )
I've said all that to lead into what I wanted to talk about in this post. Before, during, and after surgery I heard more times than I can count, "Don't worry!" "Don't be afraid!" Not that I fault anyone for telling me these things! It's just one of those things you say to someone about to face something like what we faced. But each time I heard it, I would think "Sorry! Too late! I am terrified!" Sometimes I would even think "That's easier said than done there friend!" But I would never say what I was thinking to someone because I understood their sentiments were heartfelt and genuine and I wholeheartedly appreciated the encouragement! But once surgery was all said and done, I even heard "See there! You worried for nothing!" "Oh you of little faith!" And again, this was from people who genuinely care and love us, and who prayed for us, and they mean nothing harmful by it at all! It didn't upset me in the least. But it did give me something to think about.
This post is for anyone who is afraid: afraid of tomorrow, afraid of yesterday, afraid of how they're going to make ends meet this month, afraid of how they're doing as a parent, afraid that their marriage is crumbling, afraid that they may lose their job, afraid of losing a loved one, afraid of handing their child over to a surgeon, afraid of making the wrong choice, afraid of the mistakes they've made in the past, afraid of the diagnosis they just got. I can relate.
"Fear not" is the most repeated command in the Bible. When I found that out, I felt just a little guilty at how afraid I was over this surgery. It made me really analyse myself. Do I really trust God that little? Am I so lacking in faith that I was throwing up in a waiting room bathroom? Was I THAT scared? The answer is yes. Terrified isn't even the appropriate word to describe the fear I felt. Oh, me of little faith.
Now, not only did I feel scared, but now I also felt guilty. But God (through a good friend) helped open my eyes to something I hadn't considered before.
*"Fear not" God knows how afraid we are. Why do you think He repeated himself so often in the Bible on this topic? I'm positive He knew that we needed to hear it that many times, a constant reminder. He knew that we would feel and experience fear. In fact, he prepared for it!
*"For you created my inmost being" I don't like when people tell me I should or should not feel a certain way. In fact, I don't like the whole "invalidating feelings" thing in general. God created me an emotional being (sometimes overly emotional but hey, don't judge! (: ). He expects me to control and reign in my emotions and to work to align them with His will, but He most definitely does not expect me to deny them or not feel them at all.
*Cast your anxieties on Him" Why would He tell me to cast my anxieties on Him if he expects me not to have anxieties? God knew that my anxieties would exist, and He prepared for it.
You see, God knows exactly how terrified I was that day, and I highly doubt it upset Him. In fact, I think anyone who was facing what I faced and claimed that they weren't afraid would be accused of lying. I don't think God was sitting there saying "Lacey! I told you 'Fear not' and here you are literally wretching with fear?!?!?" And I don't think God was shaking His head and saying "Oh ye of little faith." For you see, it's in those times of pure terror, where my body is shaking with fear, I can't quiet my sobs, and I can barely speak or catch my breathe, that my faith is made stronger, and my fear is laid at the feet of Christ. We have come to think, as believers, that when we follow Christ, it has to look glamorous and elegant, or we must be doing something wrong. We are in a battle and we have to come out guns blazing, chest puffed out, and victory bells sounding. When we face the fiery furnace we're suppose to shout for joy, and we're suppose to run towards the lion's den eager to lay down with those man eating lions.....says who?
I have found in my 12 years of following Christ, that I am a mess. I am anything but glamorous and elegant. I am dirt-covered, sin stained, and filthy. I am no poster child for winning people over to the "attractive life" of Christ-follower. I am living proof that God can take the most insignificant things and turn them into something invaluable. I am evidence that God can take something ugly and make it beautiful. My life is confirmation that God can take weakness and turn it into strength.
You see, in that moment when I handed Christian over to that nurse on surgery day, that moment that I had been dreading for months, and I literally couldn't catch my breath, I wasn't lacking faith because I was afraid. On the contrary, my faith was strongest at that moment. I handed Christian over and watched that nurse take him away, not knowing if I'd ever see him again, and I didn't chase after her screaming and begging her not to take him. I waited anxiously for 4 hours while Christian was in surgery, but my faith was not small because I was physically sick. On the contrary, evidence of God's victorious right hand was most evident because I stayed in that waiting room and waited to hear what the outcome would be, vomit and all.
I knew that whatever happened that day, I would face it. I knew what outcome I hoped and prayed for, but I also knew that God was in control and I was not. His strength was made perfect in my weakness because I knew that whatever outcome there was, I would STILL trust Him and serve Him. Whatever happened that day, His grace was sufficient for me.
"Where my trust is without borders, and my faith will be made stronger."
And I have watched miracles occur, more than once, right before my very eyes.
So, What are you afraid of? Oh ye of little faith. Don't fear, you are more courageous than you realize. The Lord Your God is with you wherever you go. He is your strength and shield.