As you may or may not know, Stephen had a disease called Ulcerative Colitis. It got to a point where he was no longer responding to treatments and if we wanted him to be better, surgery was the only option. Immediately we saw all the ways God was providing: we had the time in our schedules, flexible work situations, health insurance, great friends and family close and time to get at least two of the three surgeries done before the baby arrives. In the end, Stephen will be healed from the disease and have, essentially, a new colon made from his healthy small intestine.
Well here we are, the eve of the second surgery. The first surgery, along with its recovery period (which was the most crucial recovery period) are done and over with and went way better than we could have ever imagined. Before his surgery we were both pretty anxious. Neither one of us had ever gone through something like that and it seemed like there was a mountain of questions before us with very few certainties. His time in the hospital and the week following the surgery were some of the hardest times both of us have ever faced.
To be on the other side is amazing. At the time, it felt like hell (I cried every day for like two weeks before the surgery, among other lovely forms of breaking down). However, there are a few things that we were able to walk away with and carry into not only this next surgery but this next season of our lives as well. These “lessons” did not come cheaply, but most things of great value don’t.
1. Say it. There is something so powerful about being vulnerable. We were not shy about asking for prayer, asking for help, asking for food, asking for visits, just plain asking. We knew we could not get through what we were facing alone. Instead of trying to do it alone or feeling embarrassed or shame for not having it together enough to do it alone, we were honest. And ya know what? We were never left hanging. We were supported in ways that literally made us cry with gratitude. Some of that would have come no matter what, because we have amazing people in our lives who just show up regardless, but some support came via a specific media because we asked for it. We asked for coffee. We asked for visits. And sometimes, people just need to know what you need. It takes the pressure off them of guessing or feeling like they want to help but don’t know how. And, on such a deeper level, how great does it feel to be honest about where you are, what’s going on and what you’re struggling with? And how much easier is it to be honest about all that stuff when you’re with someone who takes the first step of just saying it? Try it.
2. Believe He can, regardless. A while ago, Stephen wrote this post (doesn’t he write well? I mean, not that I’m biased or anything). The piece that stood out to me the most about this story is the reality that those three guys stood in the place of believing that God could save them but that didn’t mean that He would. There’s something powerful about being able to stand in the tension of knowing that God can do all things, but that even if He doesn’t, your belief in His power remains unshaken. I think standing in that tension for us made us people of such deeper faith that came from being so convicted our faith was contingent on Him doing what we think He should. Like, we would believe He could if He did whatever it was we needed/wanted, not the other way around. God convicted us that we are called to stand in a place of believing, knowing for real for real, that He can do (fill in the blank) regardless of the outcome. Purposing that in our hearts ahead of time was a game changer for us.
3. Don’t stop until you’ve taken your territory. The other night I got to hear Christine Cain speak. Let me just say, …wait, I don’t even know what to say. The lady is a powerhouse. Stop reading this, Google a sermon from her and good luck with life after. Anyway, she told the story of Caleb and Joshua entering the Promise Land. Caleb was old, and he had seen some amazing things. He had seen God show up time and time again and of an entire generation, he and Joshua were the only ones who loved and followed God. That said, they were the ones to lead Israel into the Promise Land. Now, even though Caleb was old, and even though he had seen some amazing things, he wasn’t done. He wasn’t going to be done until he took the territory God promised Him. There’s something so powerful about purposing to fight and continue and maintain until you’ve have laid claim to every promise God has spoken over your life. One thing that pushed Stephen and I forward was God repeatedly saying that He had a future for us. Meaning: Stephen wasn’t going to die in surgery, there was more that was going to happen in our lives despite feeling like we couldn’t see past the mountain in front of us. That is worth fighting for! That makes me want to keep going, to not give up. So even though we got through the first surgery, and it went so well, we aren’t done. We’re not going to call it a day after this next surgery goes well. We want to lay claim to all God has promised us, and that’s going to take our whole lives.
So, as we stand before another surgery, we are able to look behind us and see all the ground God has taken us through. We’ve covered a lot of terrain in the last couple months. What once felt daunting now feels exciting. And let me tell you, coming from a once anxious, crying, scared, pregnant wife watching her husband go through something so hard, this is nothing short of a miracle. Yes, I’m nervous. Yes, there are tons of risks and we still have a ton of questions and yet again there are a millions things that we are unsure about.
But all we have to do is glance over our shoulders and see where we’ve come from and our hope is restored.
So, friend, whatever trail you’re facing, face it full on. Because on the other side, and there is another side, you will have territory and victory that can never be taken from you.
See you on the other side,