Here’s the GIST OF MY LAST 72 hours:
Bill had a major stroke on Tuesday. Bill is going home today.
Let me put that into a bit of perspective for you who might feel like, “Oh it’s just a minor stroke and now he’s fine!” Nah. The right side of his brain was dead from a blood clot that they have no idea where it came from. He is on blood thinners from his heart attack. And a host of high blood pressure meds. He’s not eating poorly. He’s could be exercising but my guy needs two knees and COVID kilt that for the time being so… yeah. In the words of our 15 year old daughter: his face melted. Another hour would have meant that I’d have been looking for a palliative care facility or I’d have been a widow at the age of 41.
Here’s some more perspective. Because I NEED YOU to follow me where I’m about to go.
There is someone here who has 2 amputated legs and has had a stroke. Another who is insistent on getting up and leaving despite not knowing where he is going and being a fall risk. At least one other stroke patient whose family seemed to know that this was the end. Another man who was incredibly sad because he couldn’t talk to his wife without his son coming to call for him because STROKE and she can’t come because COVID. I shared an elevator with a team of surgeons and a man who had clearly been shot, who was yet holding on as he was moved from surgery to ICU. All while I’m here arguing because they won’t let me stay passed visiting hours.
I don’t claim to have some magical potion that keeps me and my family from calamity. I understand that the rain falls on us all—be it to drown, drench, or hydrate. And yet, I am hyperaware and even more so grateful that these things are not my portion, nor my husband’s portion. I am grateful that we are not leaving out of here on our way to pick out caskets or worse (and yes, I do mean worse) ongoing palliative care until he finally succumbed. I don’t need to seek out hospice or assisted living or in home nursing.
I am supremely grateful.
Now. Let me be CLEAR: I didn’t manage to “not sin” just under the line nor did I “pray the perfect combination of words and correct number of Jesuses” to get off the hook of trouble. I believe that God hears and answers prayers, but I do not believe that my prayers are more important that the man of God with whom Bill currently shares a room but who will still be here when we are gone. I woke up and got the rain that didn’t rot my roots. I opened my eyes to the rain that didn’t destroy my livelihood or my very life. I got peeks of sunshine behind some pretty intense clouds.
I am still very grateful AND ALSO really aware that there is no luck, no special treatment. Just God’s love that sees further than I can and the rain that falls as it will on whom it will. This may make some feel A WAY, but the word is the word: God is NO RESPECTOR OF PERSONS. And we are people just like the people we will leave behind.
But. I want you all to understand this. My gratitude isn’t so much that I missed the moment of calamity and trouble. At any time and at some point, Jesus told me that in this life there would be trouble. I expect it. I walk through it. I take the good and bad and bless the name of the Lord. No. I am grateful that I finally have enough of the heart of God to feel great empathy for those who have suffered a blow from the world. My gratitude is for God working the work in my heart enough for me to feel the pain of another human being that I don’t know anything about. My gratitude is for God breaking open the box of my compassion for people whom I will never see again. My gratitude is that I can weep openly for the ones that God loves, and try to help them with a smile and a joke and a piece of normal when I can. And pray for them whether I can or not.
I learned this year that being grateful should not feel like pride. It should feel like gratitude—the song of repentance. The things you cry out to the Lord for. The “when thou wast in thine own blood” moments that God has delivered you from. Gratitude ought to call to one’s mind the MERCY that is new and available to us each day, and the compulsive need to spread that same mercy with wild abandon unto the “least of these.”
If your gratitude makes you look at someone else and say, “Thank God it wasn’t me, wasn’t us, wasn’t mine?” You don’t have gratitude. You have pride. And God is very resistant to that.
Anyway, this is my story today. I am GRATEFUL that God IS GOOD and that His Mercy Endureth Forever. For me. For them. And for you, too.