2017-05-09 - Getting Real
In this devotional, I will speak to "the other side" of a serious illness. As most of you know, last year, my husband and fellow writer, Richard, was blindsided with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. What a difference a year makes. A year ago today, he was bedbound and paralyzed from the neck down, with only his head and arms moveable. As the GBS let go, he has gotten stronger, and now he has been able to resume 99% of his normal activities.
Not a day goes by, that I don't wake up thankful he is again able to walk, play with Shiloh, eat normally, drive and just generally live what we consider a normal life. I am deeply, incredibly grateful that he recovered so well.
However, last year during the illness, there were understandably several times when things weren't so rosy. I'm going to share a little bit of that with you guys, because I believe that God is impressing on my heart the fact that some of you are experiencing similar difficult moments.
I have always believed in God; at least, I can't remember a time when I didn't. Through the years, I have had doubts about His love or his concern - but never have I doubted His existence. That didn't change last year. I communicated with Him every day - but several times, I did feel that while He was aware of our circumstances, for all intents and purposes, He had abandoned us.
Today, I will share one of these situations, which occurred in the first two months of the year, while Richard was still hospitalized. Naturally, I wanted to visit him every day. I didn't mind driving an hour each way, to the facility where he was receiving special protocols (They don't call them treatment, since they are not cures but rather enable the body to fight the illness, itself). In fact, I was thankful it was commutable. But what most of you probably don't know about me is that while God has seen fit to give me gifts and callings in the area of music, language and helping crime victims, He did not give me any sense of direction at all. 99% of the time, that is absolutely fine with me! He gave me a husband who has enough for both of us, and well he should, since he is a retired career Air Traffic Controller/Manager! But I could have used a bit of a sense of direction, during the early part of last year.
I found the hospital with few problems, but leaving, I had to go in another direction (one-way streets), and it was also completely dark by the time I left the hospital. I put the addresses in my phone map, which normally is easy for me to use. But for some reason, time after time, I never could find the streets I was supposed to take. I would drive around and around in the dark, just wandering all over until I could find my way to an Interstate sign (which should be located at every parking garage exit). I knew it was only five minutes away from I-75, but I just couldn't find it.
I certainly didn't feel loved by God, nor did I feel well-provided for by him.
I was very frightened for my safety. Having worked in the Criminal Justice system, I know the kinds of things that can happen to a woman alone at night, and while they can happen anywhere, they most often happen in neighborhoods like some of the ones in which I was lost.
I would love to tell you that God guided me to the right streets, and that I made my way home easily. But that didn't happen.I know that He was with me, but during those times, He didn't seem to be anywhere alone, in spite of my praying, "Please help me find my way out," Night after night, I would wander the streets in my car, after leaving the hospital and by the time I found a way to the interstate, the route had been so convoluted that I could not possibly retrace it, and the experience, was like finding my way out of a maze every night. Though it is a major city with a wonderful police force and there were officers in that zone, I didn't run into them a single time that I was lost. I didn't understand why God didn't help me, and I still don't understand it. I can't answer that question, just like neither Richard nor I can say why God let us go through that horrible year. We already had deep compassion for the disabled, and it seems that anything he taught us could have been taught in a less-drastic way.
But I can say that He protected me, because in one of the dangerous neighborhoods that I was in, there was a senseless murder about 12 hours after I drove through the very intersection of the crime. I made it home safely, all of hose lost nights, unscathed physically but not emotionally.
Additionally, I can say that in spite of that and other times of feeling abandoned, He was looking out for Richard, in the many ways that I have previously shared (immediate diagnosis, so crucial; wonderful PTs; having GBS instead of something even worse etc.). For these, I will always be grateful. But being grateful, and yet sometimes feeling abandoned - the two are not mutually exclusive, and don't let anyone guilt you into thinking that they are.
I also can say that what I did to get through it was: I dealt with it one night at a time, and I just kept doing what I needed to do. I also tried to have a sense of humor about it. One of my goals with Richard's care already was to make him laugh, and during that period, all I sometimes had to do was regale him with my own experiences!
So if you are going through a time when you feel abandoned by God, please know a few things. 1. You aren't alone. 2. It does not mean you are a bad Christian or lacking in faith. Many strong, devoted Christians have felt that way, too. It simply means that you are a human being living in a fallen world. 3. Know also that "this too will pass." Really. 4. Take it one day at a time and like that Energizercopy; Bunny, "keep on going" with what God has for you to do. But at the same time, look ahead to the future, knowing there is an end to the abandoned feeling. We can't say when or how, just whether. Yes things will get better. 5. Know also that while we / you may not know the "whys" of the situation, He is still there - and is in control.
Remember that like love, faith is not a feeling. It is deep in your heart, even when you think it's gone, and you have to just "keep on going" until you know it is there again. There is a psychological principle that feelings follow actions, and that is true with faith, as well.
If you want to share your experiences with me, I would be glad to pray for you. Just remember that you aren't alone; God is with you, even if you don't feel like it. And others have come through these situations, and so can you.