Monday, February 8, 2010

2 Steps Forward and How Many Steps Back?

It was around this date 14 years ago that I got to go home from the hospital after my heart surgery. I was amazed that I was alive, I was amazed that I was up and walking and had only spent a week in the hospital. And here at a week post op I could sing without getting winded and I felt better than I had for months before my surgery. And I still wasn't afraid. I wasn't anxious, that amazing peace was staying with me. I thought this was maybe my new normal. God had fixed me inside and out.

We came home to all of the ice and snow melting, which was great except that we lived in a valley and had a basement and the sump pump couldn't keep up so the basement flooded. My husband was trying to take care of a very sick wife, a 10 month old son and a 4 1/2 year old daughter. A flooded basement was over the top. So, we moved to my parents and I wasn't stressed or worried. Yes!

I continued to improve but after a few days I noticed I was less comfortable laying down, I needed more pillows and eventually just stayed in the recliner. Then it got increasingly difficult to hold my head up, I was exhausted. And then I started to run a fever. So back to the hospital we went and that peace that had been my constant companion decided not to come along. They were concerned I had an infection on the valve--which would mean replacing it--so they were going to readmit me. We did blood cultures, radiologic tests etc.

One problem was that I had 800 cc's of fluid around my heart that needed to be drained off. They do that while you're awake, with a giant needle, and tell you not to move because they could accidentally puncture your heart if you move. Okay, the peace was gone and anxiety was back in full force. They were going to kill me, I just knew it. (They didn't kill me, in case you were wondering) We were in the hospital for another 7 days and I went home on IV antibiotics without a clear understanding of what caused the fever since nothing grew on the cultures.

And my recovery seemed to continue that way. Home, then back because internal stitches pulled loose. Each trip in was worth it, but it was such a hassle. I would think "there, ok, now I'll fully recover" and then something else would happen. On one trip back in I bought a t-shirt from the gift shop that showed a cow hanging over the moon after attempting to jump and getting stuck. It said "Nothing is ever simple" and it seemed to characterize my life.

My walk with God is similar to my recovery. I'll make great strides forward and feel so great and then find myself right back where I thought I had started from. It doesn't always take me as long to move forward again, but it's the continual moving forward and sliding back journey. What I've learned is that the forward motion only happens when I'm not trying to do it my way and on my own. I couldn't make my body heal, I couldn't fix it myself. There were obviously good practices I needed to do to allow myself to heal, but the work was done by someone else. I can't make myself grow spiritually. There are good practices I can put in place and commit to, but scripture tells me that Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith. I can't make myself have more faith, but I can learn to trust and lean on the Lord. And so that's what I try to do so that I can grow and mature. It's not a quick journey, it's not a simple journey; but it's worth it.

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