I just spent six weeks recovering from major surgery. In many ways, it was a surreal journey through familiar territory I had hoped to forget.
When our son was born prematurely, I lost a lot of blood during the delivery – so much that I (temporarily) lost my vision. My brain was shutting down non-essential functions to try to save my life. I heard the doctors yelling at my husband to get out of the OR, calling for bags of blood to transfuse me, and asking me how much pain I felt while prepping me for emergency surgery.
I couldn’t see anything, but I heard the urgency in their voices. I kept asking, “What’s wrong? Why can’t I see? What’s happening?” Instead of answers, they responded with frantic questions of their own: “Can you feel this? Does this hurt? Can you see now? What’s her pulse ox? Where’s the blood? Are we ready?”
Thankfully, the surgeons did their job well. I survived — as did the baby who was born that day. But, the doctors told me that, somewhere down the road, they’d need to do more surgery. Their sole focus that day had been keeping me alive. They hadn’t worried about future function, sensation or appearance. So, at some point, they’d need to operate again – to repair some things, reconfigure some things, redo some things – in order to return my body to normal.
That’s the surgery I just had.
Here’s why it was such a gift…. It felt like a do-over. Like a second chance to experience that day, but to do so mindful of God’s faithfulness.
Here’s what I mean. Six weeks ago, I was waiting in pre-op for a nurse to put in multiple IV lines (my veins are tiny, so it frequently takes 4 or 5 sticks to get a line in). I dreaded this part of the process and knew I had to keep myself calm. I was cold and shivering – adrenaline, no doubt – and suddenly I remembered how cold I was that day in the delivery room, lying on the table unable to see.
I could feel fear rising in me, threatening to become panic. So, I started humming “Peace Like a River” — like a little kid whistling in the dark. And guess what? It actually worked. My shivering slowed and I could feel my body begin to relax. Nurses hustled back and forth outside my pre-op room, but no one bothered to check on me. No one came with needles and IV lines. So, I kept humming.
I closed my eyes, trying to visualize peace like a river. Soothing. Flowing. Making its way from the Source to me, and back again. Then, love like an ocean. Vast. Powerful. Endless. And joy like a fountain. Constantly overflowing. I hummed, and hummed, and hummed some more.
Gradually, my effort to calm myself became an impromptu worship service. Tears came to my eyes as I thanked God for walking with me through the darkest days of our journey (peace), for the lives of our children and the strength of our marriage (love), and our hope for the future (joy).
I could feel His presence and His delight in my gratitude. I was headed for surgery, but all was well. I could let go of fear and walk through this focused on His goodness and faithfulness. And He would walk with me.
I won’t lie to you. I threw up (repeatedly) when I came out of the anesthesia. I didn’t meet the criteria for discharge, so they admitted me to the hospital. My belly was as big as if I’d just delivered, and it took weeks before I could quit taking Motrin for pain. But, I felt that peace wrapped around me like a blanket.
And now? I’m fine. And God is good. What I had dreaded – and repeatedly postponed – turned out to be a reminder that I only need to invite God to be present in my struggles, and He will be. Always. Bringing peace, love and even joy to the journey.
Invite Him to do it for you, too.