The rancid smell of post-surgery medications filled the soft yellow room, as nurses brought her in from the OR, still unconscious. I was expecting a roller coaster of emotions, but it felt more like a train crash. My mother’s precious life depended on the numerous tubes she was hooked up to.
She had made it past the surgery, and we had made it past the initial fright. I had come to peace with whatever would happen. “Tear my heart out if You will, Lord, it is yours.” Warm tears began rolling down my cheeks. I quickly wiped them away, hoping to stay strong for the rest of my family. At that very moment, my beautiful mother was even more beautiful. Weak and fragile, but stronger than ever before, she was a survivor of this modern-day plague called cancer. She slowly opened up her eyes, as if that action alone summoned Herculean efforts from her. She looked at us, and a second later, she was sleeping again.
The days passed, and it was excruciating. No words can describe what it’s like to see the strongest woman I know at the weakest and most vulnerable she could possibly be. How I wish I could have taken her pain. Every day brought a new load; like having to negotiate a room change in the overbooked hospital, so that my mother wouldn’t stay awake all night again because of her rowdy neighbor. Or, a disagreement with my sister, that opened up old wounds. I was navigating through my direct mission, protect and care for my mother, and my deepest calling, to bear witness of the love of God.
During that time beautiful things also happened: fewer tubes, more consciousness, less pain, more smiles; until mom was ready to go home. One afternoon, there she sat in a wheelchair, in her pretty blue flower-print dress. Her sapphire eyes filled with tears at every nurse she met on her way out, as she thanked them so earnestly for their loving care.
The Choice I Made
At a few crucial moments during those trying days, I had to make a choice. Would I grind my teeth, and let my heart grow hard enough to be able to go through it? Or would I let the hurt break me and God do the healing? Believe me when I say that my flesh had already made its choice, but the Spirit of God wouldn’t let go of my heart.
So I broke. In pieces. All of me. Shattered.
When I lifted my eyes, I caught yet another glimpse of the reward that comes from brokenness. I feasted on the verse: “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” (Ps 51:17, NLT) My heart became soft again. God spoke to me, and I heard Him. Gently, sweetly. My whole being knew that He was with me.
It also allowed me to realize how deep into pride I was swimming; in the high seas of pride if you ask me. The shore was no longer in sight, and I didn’t know how to go back. That’s when the Lord carried me on a wave of grace, love, and mercy, right back to His side.
While my mother had stomach surgery, I had a heart transplant. While thick darkness loomed over our lives, God gave me the strength to let Jesus be the light. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.
If you ask me to sum up what I’ve learned from this, I’d say the following: Showing Jesus in the middle of the fire might take everything you’ve got. Give it your all. That’s when it’s worth it the most.