GOD MEETS US RIGHT WHERE WE ARE
I’m a little ashamed to say that I don’t remember the details of Cal’s hospital stay that March. I don’t remember feeding him or holding him to comfort him. I don’t remember the ride there or even the specifics of what brought us to the hospital in the first place. What I did know was that my five month old was struggling to breathe and he needed help. I knew that I was on the brink of a mental breakdown and I had no clue what to do. I knew that he would be OK, myself I wasn’t so sure about.
Cal had RSV, which is a significant respiratory infection that often becomes very severe and requires hospitalization for young children. It’s a virus so there is not much that can be done other than support them with oxygen and fluids as the infection passes through their little bodies. I had been here before, in the ER with a child working hard to breathe, many times actually. Just a year before, I spent four days in this hospital with Ella who had the exact same respiratory infection.
Weird as it may sound, I was actually looking forward to this hospital stay with my boy to escape the realities and heaviness of my day to day life. I was still trying to absorb and sort out the revelations of the month prior along with mommying three kids ages four and under, I needed a break! God knew what I needed and provided it in an unexpected way. Again He met me exactly where I was and met my need in a way that I couldn’t avoid. He knew that I needed to be plucked out of my everyday life in order to hear His voice and receive His message and He knew that a dark, quiet hospital room was just the place for it all to go down. I love that God often surprises me with when and where He shows up strongly with me.
What I do remember is sitting in the ER with a very tired and uncomfortable infant, my mom on one side of the bed and me on the other. I remember calling my mom on the way to the hospital telling her that I was bringing Cal in for RSV. She worked at the hospital and I knew that she would come down in a flash and be the much needed support that we both needed. I knew that she would help advocate for his care and I knew that I felt a whole lot safer and calmer when my mom was there. I remember the amazing nurse who came in to give Cal his IV. He was a pro and got a great line immediately so only one stick of the needle was needed. I remember feeling extremely grateful to this man for minimizing Cal’s discomfort remembering Ella’s IV debacle a year earlier and the horror and pain she experienced.
What I remember most is sharing my desperation with my mom, pouring my heart out, silently pleading with God to show me what to do. What better place to pour out my pain than a hospital room, right? That’s what hospitals are for aren’t they, go in with pain and come out healed? I have heard that desperation is a gift because it often lunges us closer to where we need to be. And of course, this time was no exception.
I remember my mom listening intently as she always does and then asking one powerful question that changed my life, “Have you ever thought of going to Al-Anon?” Well of course I haven’t ever thought of going to Al-Anon because I had never heard of it. My mom explained that Al-Anon was for family and friends who have a loved one with an addiction. “Now why on earth would I go to Al-Anon?”, I thought. But the seed was planted………
Over the next five days, God met me in that dark, quiet, lonely hospital room. My desperation grew stronger as I watched my boy struggle to breathe and lay seemingly lifeless at times. This was not the gregarious five month old that I knew, this was not my son. I wanted my boy back, the active, thriving one, full of life.
As I reflect on it now, I see that my desire for my boy to return to himself was also an unconscious plea for myself too. I was physically alive, but my spirit was lifeless. I wanted to go back to the girl who skipped down the hill at the park wearing overalls and a backwards hat as I had when I was 16. I wanted to go back to the girl who had spunk, determination and passion. I wanted to get in touch with the girl inside of me who had been lost so many years ago and something told me that there were new discoveries that needed to be made about her too. I longed to experience my boy as himself, as God created him to be and I longed to experience myself, my true self, as God created me to be.
I am very grateful to say that Cal recovered very well from his infection and within a short time, you wouldn’t even guess that he had been hospitalized in the recent past. I came home exhausted and feeling very battered, but with a spark of the fighting spirit that I once enjoyed. And a spark is all it took. I came home ready to fight for my life, to reclaim what had been stolen and what I had given away and to discover what was hidden and what was to come.
I walked through the doors to my first Al-Anon meeting the Saturday after Cal and I returned home. My heart was almost pulsating out of my chest and my stomach churned. Nervous anticipation and fearful hope gripped me. I sat down at the newcomers table with about 10 others and for the first time in my life heard people share similar experiences, thoughts and feelings as me. I usually felt so different and out of place in groups, but this one was different. This group was sharing honest truth from the depths of their hearts and they were identifying places in mine that I didn’t even know existed. It shocked me at first, what I was hearing and what was being ignited within me. But as I continued to listen, a peace slowly enveloped me and I knew I was in the right place. It’s amazing what happens when you first realize that you aren’t alone with something. For me a gentle soothing usually happens almost immediately upon identifying with someone else around an experience that I feel alone with.
Even better than the identification with others was what I heard from the speaker. I heard her talk about truly living her own life, a good life, even in the midst of chaos from others. I heard her talk about loving herself enough to take care of herself and set boundaries with people and situations which were toxic for her. I heard hope, healing and health. I could plainly see that this woman was alive and thriving in herself and in her life. I wanted what she had and I was willing to work to get it. I often say that Al-Anon saved my life. I mean that wholeheartedly, Al-Anon teaches me to connect deeper with God, myself and others. It’s this intimacy that fuels my spirit and allows me to become more and more alive.
The Gift Of Desperation is truly a present in a number of ways. That night my desperation led me to that meeting and it continues to create in me the willingness to go to any lengths to recover my life. Today I am grateful to declare, just like the speaker did that Saturday night, that my life is pretty unrecognizable when compared to the life of the girl I was that night in March of 2011. As I watched the sun come up while writing this post this morning, I was thanking God and reflecting on how transformed my life is today compared to 7.5 years ago. I am still surprised and humbled by the life I get to live today and the ways God meets me in it. It’s certainly not perfect and definitely not always pretty, but today I am alive and thriving as I continue to reclaim and rediscover the best parts of the girl who was lost so long ago.
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Next week I will be posting A Holy Hospital Stay Part 2 describing my own two week hospitalization and how God met me there and did a 180 in my life.
Missed the first two posts in our series: God Meets Us Right Where We are? No worries! Check them out here:
Until next Wednesday. I pray that you are experiencing God’s wholeness through your holes.