I created The Exceptional Life blog less than a year ago as a medium to share posts on my faith, personal growth and happiness journey.
Concerning faith, for years I sat in church in confusion as our Pastor talked about faith. I quasi-understood it: you just need a little bit to start, don’t doubt and above all never fear, because fear and faith can’t co-exist in the mind. Yes, okay and really? The last part was a gotcha because deep down inside I did doubt at times. ALOT. I doubted my abilities as a contributor at work, and if I could complete my studies at the university without drowning in debt. As a wife and working mom I was afraid of being absent too much, and juggling so many other tasks outside the home. So I sat stoically in church, alone in my thoughts as the message once again centered on faith. The challenge to your faith is not as important as the response, Pastor ended, your response is key.
My husband and I would talk about this message throughout the year, but nothing prepared us for what was to come…
Later that summer, we decided to leave earlier than expected from our annual vacation, and head home to surprise the kids. School was starting on Monday, and my Mother-in-law graciously offered to stay with teens who felt they no longer needed a sitter since their brother was officially a college freshman. The attitude of three teenagers permeated the home, a la skunk spray, as we left for the airport one week earlier. Only our little one cried and hugged our legs, begging us not to leave. Sigh, it felt good to get home early and make things right with the children again.
As we powered up our cell phones during a connecting flight, both our phones began ringing at the same time from our kids and neighbors. It was total chaos! Our middle child finally got through and screamed in terror that our son was in a car accident, and she didn’t know where emergency services had taken him. Further complicating matters my Mother-in-law was having chest pains after hearing the news, leaving our 16 year old as the decision maker to search for her brother and care for her two younger siblings.
When I close my eyes, I can still hear the uncertainty and her fear as she cried on the phone that day, and fervently pray that eventually the Lord will remove that memory. I don’t know how we did it, but right in the airport her father and I calmed down enough to pray with her. We asked aloud for God to take control of the situation. We prayed for a miracle for our son, and thanked the Lord for our faith that we would be always be together, on earth and in heaven. As friends and family searched for our son, we began our flight home not knowing whether he survived, and totally relying on the mercy and grace of our heavenly Father.
I wept the entire flight home, leaving my husband to mumble an explanation to the flight attendants, and worried passengers offering tissue after tissue. After landing, we were off the plane and finally heard good news, our son was airlifted to a trauma center two towns away! The bad news was it was really bad news: he had a skull fracture, brain bleeding, and was in an induced coma…I stopped listening, and hung up as we raced to him. Where is he, I demanded once at the ICU? There were too many people talking to me, and all I wanted was to see my son and hold my other children. At his bedside a chaplain and nurse were intent on explaining the visitor limit to me. I looked into the nurse’s soul, and replied,
“No one will keep me from my son EVER AGAIN. It took too much to get to him, and I’m never leaving him alone in this place.”
I don’t know what I looked like when I said it (probably insane) but no one challenged me or mentioned visiting hours again. The main concern was that he wouldn’t survive the first night, and so I prayed a simple prayer of promise:
I love you son. Continue to rest, and know it is written: For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:11 (AMP)
For nine days we kept vigil, prayed and stayed at my son’s side. Our church held a special time of prayer during mid-week service, while friends, family and other churches prayed all over the country. One week after being admitted unresponsive and unstable he opened his eyes and began breathing on his own. Another three days later he was discharged to continue what would be an extended, one year recovery at home.
His father and I were given a devastating diagnosis, a long rehabilitation period, and lists of things he’d be unable to do, but with time his recovery has been remarkable. I stretch my faith, and call this period of our lives a divine miracle from God. Even doctors on his medical team can’t explain his rapid healing in certain areas. One excitedly shook our son’s hand during a later visit, while another kept staring at him as if he were an alien. The second doctor kept repeating, “but I admitted you in the ER,” and, “I ordered your transfer to the ICU when you began to crash!”
Six years later and we’ve grown and changed! The teens are now adults and living on their own. Instead of many feet running around the home, there’s one little set left, and we’re just as happy. Whenever I run into an old friend or neighbor, and they ask about my son’s well-being and abilities I thank them for their prayers and kindness, and patiently answer any questions. Is he driving? Yes. Did he return to college? Absolutely. Is he working? Yes! While our lives haven’t been an overnight success, the profound change and increase in my faith since that terrible time is my testimony.
In my life faith is the “God thread” that sews up all my imperfections and pieces me back together so that I’m whole again. When I’ve been given little hope, my faith in God allows me peace to see beyond my circumstances. Finally, in my darkest hour and greatest time of need when it was just me calling out to God, He gave me assurance in two verses. The one above which I still pray over my son, and the following one encompassing every area of my life:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Php 4:6-7 (NIV)