Floyd continues to be a combination of active and quiet this week. Some friends came to the hospital to give him a haircut. And on one of the beautiful warm days, the therapists took him outside for some fresh air and sunshine. I'm sure he loved it. It's his first time to sit outside in almost 9 months. He always enjoys being outdoors!
I think sometimes he is bewildered by all that is going on around him. I see it reflected in his eyes. I can only imagine how strange (frightening?) it must feel to have no control over what is happening to you - and not understand things. We keep praying for the Spirit to remind him that he is loved and not abandoned.
There are many things that have been hard/difficult over the last months. It’s been a challenging time on so many levels. But there are two things in particular that have seemed constant – and difficult.
The first one is the “aloneness.” We married so young (18 and 21) – we say we “grew up” together. :) A deep friendship developed as we learned and grew. We’ve considered ourselves each other’s best friends. We talked about everything. We loved being together. We had lots of plans for the future years.
It feels so strange not to have Floyd to talk to, process with, ask advice, and just share life after being together for 49 years. Everything happened so quickly with his illness. When things started on that Tuesday morning, we were just dealing with the problem of the pain – trying to find out what was wrong and how to bring relief. There was no inkling of where this was headed and how things would end up. I would have never dreamed that all these months later he would be in this condition. It often feels surreal.
I would have loved to have talked about “what if.” And how shall I handle a myriad of things? What would you like me to do? There was never even a chance to say goodbye because we had no idea it would be needed.
I wish I could turn the clock back and do things differently. But we rarely get those kinds of opportunities. I saw a phrase recently that spoke to me - "When God conceals His purposes, He consoles with His promises." God has no responsibility to tell us all His purposes. I've longed to know what God is "up to." But I don't yet understand. However He doesn't just leave us on our own - He consoles us. I love how God balances things out!
I've been reflecting on a few of His promises. There are so many that it would take whole books to mention all of them.
"God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 - He'll take care of me, meet my needs. He'll be a husband to me in Floyd's absence.
" 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 - His grace is sufficient - His power will be with me in my weakness. He's not frustrated or disappointed in me when I'm weak. It's an opportunity for Him to show His power.
"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 - He'll remember that I'm weak. He'll give me strength.
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 - I may feel alone as I shared above.....but I'm not!!! He never forsakes me. He never abandons me. He never leaves me on my own. Thank you Lord!
The second thing that has been very hard is that I feel “stuck” in a situation – while life around me continues on. This contributes to the feeling of aloneness. I am alone – while everyone else continues on with life, activities, etc. I have to daily keep going with no end in sight to what I'm walking through. It's a bit like being on a never-ending merry-go-round.......that goes around and around and around. The scenery doesn't change. The horse I'm riding on doesn't change direction. It just keeps going around endlessly.
I don't exactly know how to describe it. It feels claustrophobic - like things are closing in on me in the "sameness" day after day. And while I love going to be with Floyd, it's also such an emotional experience each and every time. I expect it to get easier because I know what to expect, but it doesn't.
There is nothing “wrong” about any of this – and I certainly want everyone else to continue on with their lives. But it’s a just part of the challenge of what I face in my life right now. It accentuates everything else. I ask for His grace to be faithful as I circle around and around.
Again, as with just about everything in my life, I turn to the Word with this burden. The Word speaks to what I'm walking through and nourishes my heart to not faint, but persevere.
"I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me." 2 Timothy 1:12 - I have come to realize that God has "entrusted" this journey to me. I don't know why. I don't feel adequate to the task, but He's given it to me. I know that HE can help me "guard" this path I'm walking on and fulfill His purposes.
"David strengthened himself in the Lord His God." 1 Samuel 30:6 - Every time I feel weak, overwhelmed, stuck, inadequate - I breathe a prayer and ask for extra strength. Thank goodness God has a never-ending supply to draw on and give to me.
"The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27 - When I'm feeling particularly weak, I picture myself relaxing into His strong arms........or running to a secure dwelling place where I'm safe.
"I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill." Psalm 3:4 - Every time I'm feeling alone, stuck, like I just can't make it - I cry out. He hears me from His holy hill in heaven and sends His Spirit to help and rescue me.
I'm so grateful for God's faithfulness in meeting me in these things. He never reprimands me for my vulnerability and tenderness, my "rawness" in the emotions of it, my weakness.......He always responds with love and grace. And His word pours the balm of truth and who He is into my wounds. Thank you Lord!
Over these months the Lord has given me a way to process and handle these difficult times. God always provides help for what we face!
I've found that there are three simple keys/tools He's given me to respond with when I'm feeling weak, in need, vulnerable:
- The first is to simply dig deeper in my walk with the Lord. At the point of difficulty, I need to immediately acknowledge my need, my weakness. Doing that is a protection from the enemy trying to exploit my vulnerability with his lies! It also stops the focus of being on my needs, and turns it to a positive of deeper intimacy and friendship with Him. I'm sure one of the things the Lord wants to do in me during this journey is draw me closer to Himself!
I should also say - that sometimes when the hurt and pain is so deep and overwhelming, it may be hard to even pray and turn to Him. I find I have to choose to do that - to fix my mind on Him not on my troubles! It can be hard when the pain is so strong. But as I ask for His help, and go deeper in my love for Him, it brings peace of mind and calmness of spirit.
- As I'm doing this, I need to immerse myself in the truth of the Word. Going to the Word is so important because it takes the focus off of what I'm feeling to the solid foundation of what God says in His Word. The promises from the Word can also be turned into prayers. And, again, speaking out the firm, secure, wonderful truth from the Word is a further protection from the enemy.
- I also find it so very helpful to bring to mind how God has met me and our family in the past with answered prayer. I recall specific testimonies to mind of His goodness, His help, His provision, His healing. It's a "stake in the ground" in declaring God can do this!! He's helped us before and He'll do it again! It builds faith in my heart, and it releases a spirit of praise by acknowledging His faithfulness in the past.
In moments of vulnerability and weakness, I have found these steps to be incredibly life giving and helpful. It turns the difficult moments around, and gets them focused in the right direction.
The "secret" of finding His peace is in giving every pain, every care to Him.
"I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer." Psalm 40:17 - We are always in His thoughts, and He is ready to deliver!
I have been thinking about a quote I read. "Faith is the link that connects our weakness to God's strength." I pictured a heavy gold link charm bracelet in my mind. One end is a charm that symbolizes my weakness, my tiredness, my vulnerability. On the other end is a charm that symbolizes God's power, might, strength, sufficiency. And in between are links of FAITH!
I feel challenged to keep faith alive in my heart. Faith for all of God's plans and purposes to be fulfilled. Faith for God to meet me day by day on this long journey. Faith for abundant strength and grace. Faith for God to be glorified in His will for Floyd.
"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3 - He'll show us difficult things, impossible things. He'll answer prayers that we hardly have faith for, because He is great!
"The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." Hebrews 4:2 - Faith - that very important link that we need!
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 - I want to keep my faith alive to pray for what I do not yet see!
Some days in my tiredness, I don't think I can......but He can. I'm stirring my faith up to receive from His mighty hand!