One of the cool features of Nolan’s Progressive Care stay was the TV in the room. Sure, it had your standard remote/call button combo, but you could also plug it in to a keyboard and access movies, music, and websites. That was pretty dope, so I worked it into my visits with Nolan. I’d go to see him, turn on Pandora on the TV, and turn on the station for my church’s worship band: Elevation Worship. Then Nolan and I would sit in a rocking chair and just rock and listen to some worship music for hours. It would become the best part of my day by far. Most of the time Nolan would sleep, but sometimes he’d just look at me for long periods of time.
One day, though, things were different. It’s funny because there wasn’t anything inherently different about that day: I wasn’t having a bad day, I wasn’t bummed out about anything…it was just a regular day in the neighborhood. I had Nolan in my arms and we were rocking away in the chair. At one point I just looked at him: marveling at his big eyes and his cute little nose. And I whispered to him, “I love you so much, I would do anything for you.” Then BAM. He did it again, God decided to show up. Not physically show up, but more like make a PSA in my heart. You’ll remember from https://hlhsdad.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/dear-god-its-3am-im-scared-and-i-dont-like-you-right-now/ that God did the same thing when I was struggling before Nolan’s surgery.
Just like last time, the word was very still and quiet: “Now you see how much I love all of you, and you are all born broken.” WOW. And then – this is gonna sound weird – it’s like God gave me some kind of deep understanding of His love. You know, we all know John 3:16…we memorize it, we see it on signs at football games, people put it on business cards. But do we really know what it means for God to love with an overwhelming, totally-forgiving love? Like do we REALLY know what that means? I loved my son so much, I just wanted to pour out every bit of me to make him feel loved and whole, even though nothing I could do could make him whole. But in that instant God used that example to show me what His love was really like. All I can describe it as was heavy. Really, really heavy, like the vastness and greatness of His love was bearing down on my shoulders to where I couldn’t stand the presser and was overwhelmed. And that was just a glimpse.
And just like that, I was back in the rocking chair in Nolan’s room with him in my arms asleep. And on Pandora, the song “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan came on. Almost as if right on cue. I was completely speechless. And overwhelmingly moved. I listened to the words of the song and played that whole experience over and over in my mind. Oh how we take God’s love for granted, especially since we’re all messed up: not always physically. I think no matter what we’re going through, we need to stop and really think about God’s love. About how much He loves us in spite of the abuse and rebelliousness we hurl at Him. His love is so strong and only He has the shoulders to bear it all. Thank you God for your love. Thank you for showing me your love in a hospital room. Thank you for showing me there’s so much more than what’s in front of me.
Yes, the title of this entry seems a bit extreme, but it’s the God-honest truth, so hear me out. I personally feel like this entry is one of the most important ones in this whole journey because of what it represents, so don’t let the title scare you away.
Prior to arriving at CVICU with Nolan the day before his first surgery, I had gone through a lot in my head. I was sad when we found out about Nolan’s heart, I was scared, I was hopeful. Pretty much by this stage in the game, I was working really hard on having the faith that God would get Nolan – and us – through this. I remember sitting in this horribly uncomfortable rocking chair in Nolan’s room, with a pillow under my arm, and I had been holding my sweet Nolan for hours. We just hung out together: I talked to him, I hummed songs quietly to him, I prayed quietly…a lot. All in all, I was nervous but feeling pretty good. Then 3am came.
I know it was 3am because I remember looking at the time and thinking “Geez, 3am…3 hours to go.” Then it hit me: DOUBT. FEAR. As I sat in that chair the words from the heart surgeon boomed in my head: “20% of kids don’t make it through this part.” And I freaked. And then I got pissed at God. In my mind I was furious, I remember thinking “How DARE you, God? How dare you put us through this? Haven’t we been through enough? Why would you let me bond so well with him if there’s a chance I don’t ever see him again past tomorrow?” I was beside myself, I was shaking, trying to have this mental/verbal spar with God, all the while “20%” kept chanting in my head.
As soon as I said my peace, the doubts went away. And not faded away, it was like BAM, gone. Then this incredible peace came over me, it was almost warm. Then a voice came…not an audible one, but one that spoke to my heart and quoted Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…For the Lord your God goes before you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
And that was it…
Wow. WOW. So here I was, broken down to nothing, having this toe-to-toe with God and God showed up and basically said “I got this.” I’m sure some of you will read this and think I’m nuts. That’s ok. Some of you will read this and thing it’s sacrilege to be so angry at God. That’s ok, too. But if you want my honest opinion, I think God’s ok with anger sometimes. Of course, it’s not ok to get angry and kill someone or anything like that, but this is different. Anger is an emotion all humans have…and God created us. I think in that moment, my 3am moment, I was trying SO hard to have strong faith, but I’m sure a lot of it was my own efforts instead of just trusting God. So I got angry…and by getting angry, it stripped away every wall, every pretense between me and God. So it was just me and Him, nothing else in the way. And He spoke.
Tony Evans once wrote something to the effect of “When you hit rock bottom, you find God is the rock at the bottom.” That’s for darn sure. So I knew from that point forward, “Be strong and courageous” needed to be the thing echoing in my head…not doubts. I was still a little scared, no doubt about it, but it was different this time. My faith had teeth. See, I think all I wanted was to be in control…until I was reminded that was impossible. Then God reminded me He’s in control.
So when is a time you broke down and were honest with God? Maybe you need to have that honest talk where you bare your soul honestly before him, whether that looks like anger or “Hey God, I just don’t get it.” Either way, do it. God is God, I doubt he’s gonna be offended by you. In my case he showed up BIG…I think if I didn’t have that moment, I would’ve missed out and would’ve been a TOTAL wreck during Nolan’s surgery and recovery.
Side note: thanks to everyone who’s been reading, following, and sharing this blog. My hope is that through sharing my journey with Nolan, that I can help people cope through their journey or learn about the journey they’re about to go through. Please feel free to comment whenever you like!