On the occasions when I was able to surface from being numb, the thanksgivings I did record included: apple turnovers at the hospital coffee shop (yum!); crushed ice in the atrium waiting room; finding Diet Coke in the vending machine whereas the cafeteria only served Pepsi products; brilliant sun in the bitter cold; making it downstairs for good coffee without missing a doctor on early morning rounds; finding a way to create rhythm with hospital visits; spinach soufflé to nourish me. I was living on ice cream, frozen Stouffer’s spinach soufflé, homemade vegetable soups, yogurt and sometimes Rapid Fire Pizza. Eventually I could add thanksgiving that Bob’s thoughts were returning without ICU psychosis clouding his brain as much.
“My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises You with joyful lips when I think of You on my bed, and meditate on You in the watches of the night; for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” PS 63:5-8
People I barely knew at church were sending me encouragement. Bob’s friends were also. I met one woman in the grocery parking lot. She confided that her husband had been undergoing chemo and it was a long, long recovery process. She listened with compassion and then asked me, “Isn’t it strange when you gauge what kind of day you are having by how many times you cry?” She succinctly nailed that wisdom. Her comfort stays with me even now.
Along with thanksgiving I had recently studied a book about brokenness. About eleven days into the nightmare I was crocheting in Bob’s room one evening while he dozed. He had a clear realization that day of just how weak and frail he had become. The physical therapists had helped him stand and try to take one step. He was shocked over all the strength he had lost in those eleven days. I sensed this message of comfort from the Lord:
“I see you. I see you sitting there crocheting.”
“I’ve got this in My mighty, holy way.
I know it is hard to do, but I want you to try to relax and remember each time panic tries to grab you, I’ve got this. I’ve got this. Trust the outcome to Me, even when you do not understand where it is going or what the next step is. Trust and know that I am holding you and Bob. I’ve got this.
My dear, sweet Molly, trust Me.
Just like that knot in your yarn just now, if you tug on it things only get harder. Let me untangle the health mess for you. Yes, it has been a very hard day as Bob comes to terms with the reality of what January 2018 has brought to him. I’ve got him.”
I was stunned into thanksgiving by His comfort and love. Rarely do I hear this sort of comfort and assurance from my Lord. He was present to me in that room, with monitors beeping and all the rest of the hospital trappings.
All glory be to You, Lord Christ! My learning about Brokenness came most recently from Ann Voskamp’s book The Broken Way. I had taken notes from the book and was able to review them in the hospital room. She wrote:
“You know – everything all across this farm says the same thing, you know that, right? … The seed breaks to give us wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast. There was once even an alabaster jar that broke to give Him all the glory. Never be afraid of a broken thing.”
“Wounds are what break open the soul to plant the seeds of deeper growth. My dad told me this once. For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone. The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change. If you didn’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.
“Brokenness can make abundance.”
“Why are we afraid of broken things? Why are we afraid of suffering? What if the abundance of communion is only found there in the brokenness of suffering – because suffering is where God lives. Suffering is where God gives the most healing intimacy.”
Brokenness, stillness, trust. I was learning.