So, I’m sure this will come as a total surprise (seriously, HOW have they not come up with a "sarcasm" font yet?), but I’ve been stressed. We’re not just talking have-a-lot-to-do-overwhelmed stress. We’re talking full blown oh-my-goodness-this-is-WAY-more-than-I-can-handle-I-am-literally-on-the-edge-of-the-cliff-just-waiting-for-you-to-unwittingly-say-the-wrong-thing-so-I-can-blame-you-for-everything-that’s-wrong-with-my-life stress. I’m sure it’s not coincidental that it started right around the time we got Bodie’s surgery date. As my best friend Val said “Amy, your anxiety is palpable.” And that’s from South Carolina, peeps. From clear across the country, she could see my SOS signals. You can imagine how fun it has been for the 3 lovelies who get stuck living under the same roof as me.
I haven’t handled my anxiety well. To put it mildly. I went through about a week of just drifting, for lack of a better word. You know those, Cymbalta, I think they are (or maybe Paxil?), commercials where they say “Depression makes everything hard. You don’t feel like yourself anymore. You don’t enjoy your regular activities. Getting out of bed is hard. Depression hurts” (or something to that effect)? I would stare at the tv with my mouth hanging open, thinking “OH MY GOSH – THAT IS ME!!!” I’ve never dealt with depression, so it was definitely a weird feeling.
And then my stress morphed into good old fashioned freaking out anxiety, which I am MUCH more familiar with, so that felt better because at least I was used to it. But it was still pretty bad. It was about the moment I found myself standing in my front doorway, sobbing and saying things no good Christian woman should ever be saying because I had dropped my fruit smoothie and the lid had popped off, spilling it all over my front entryway (somehow it did feel like the end of the world, I promise), that I realized I needed to get things under control.
I know peace from this kind of crippling anxiety can only come from ONE PLACE. A peace that truly surpasses all understanding. So I started focusing on the Word. And praying. All the time. I mean, in the shower, in the car, while I was making dinner, before I went to bed. And my prayers went something like “ok, God. This isn’t working. PLEASE take this from me. Let me turn this over to you. Otherwise, I won’t make it to July…without Paxil…or a lobotomy…or maybe both.”
And, like He always does, He answered. Luckily for me (and my poor family), He responded quickly.
First, my dear friend and fellow Christian heart mama, Christie, asked for my address and told me she was sending Bodie something. That “something” was a mix CD (I’ll let that ruminate for a minute – I did my share of mix tapes in the 80s and 90s – I didn’t even know you could do mix CD’s! Very cool!) of children’s worship songs. The kids and I eagerly put it in…and we didn’t recognize a single song. Here’s why that’s weird – those of us in the Evangelical Christian / nondenominational community are kind of cultish – we all sing the same praise songs. So to hear not just one, but an entire CD of praise songs that you’ve never heard before, is kind of unheard of.
At first, I wasn’t too excited, because I couldn’t sing along to the songs. But at the kids’ request, we kept listening. And within a few days, I found myself singing along to one song in particular – “I will not be afraid.” And the chorus started ruminating through my soul, lighting the dark spaces, filling me with comfort.
“I will not be afraid
I will not be afraid of the darkness
I will not be afraid
I am resting in You.
You are my Father, I’m your child
Here in Your arms I lie
Your angels are watching over me
Singing a lullaby”
(For the entire awesome song (by Phil Joel), click here.)
I realized that Bodie's upcoming Fontan was MY darkness, the scary place that robs me of peace, that keeps me awake at night, lying in fear. But I don’t need to be afraid because God is with me. He is my father and I am His child. What an incredible visual to think of him holding me and the angels singing lullabies around me! What glorious peace to know He has gone before me and comforts me.
I so love this song and will often just play it on repeat in the car on my way to work after having dropped the kids off at school/preschool. It's one that I want in my head, in my heart, in my soul, to remind me in my darker hours NOT to be afraid.
And then about a week later, I was working with Sierra on her AWANA Bible verses and we came across this verse.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid...for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
I mean, seriously? OBVIOUSLY, Sierra’s sudden urge to do all of her AWANA verses at once and finish her book (as opposed to not caring at all, which was pretty much her approach this entire year) had nothing to do with her as much as it did about ME needing to hear this verse (which is at the end of the book), about ME needing to be reminded to be courageous, that God will be with me. Freaking awesome.
And then, thanks to God settling my heart so that I could think clearly, I came to a few realizations. Things that may be helpful to other families facing uncertainties.
1. CHD has robbed our family of so much. Because of CHD I wasn’t able to breastfeed my son, I wasn’t able to hold him until he was 4 days old (and even then, only for a moment), his sister wasn’t able to experience the joy of having a newborn sibling in the home, our son has scars all over his sweet chest…The list goes on and on of what CHD has robbed us of. We had no say over that. But THIS, this ability to wallow in the fear of what is to come, THIS I DO have control over. I can make the choice to let it control us, to force us into fear. Or I can choose to live freely, to enjoy the time I do have with my son. I can choose to NOT let CHD take ONE SINGLE THING MORE from my family. And so I will.
2. The freaking scary as all get out truth is that we DON’T know what will happen this summer. For all we know, these may be our last moments with our son. We’re hopeful that won’t be the case, but we just don’t know. And if that is the case, the LAST thing we want is to know his last few months were spent in our mess of anxiety. We want to know our son ENJOYED his life and lived every minute of it – and that we lived it with him. And so we will.
So where does this leave me now? At peace. Honest to God, simple, happy, PEACE. Freedom to enjoy where we’re at now. And to let God worry about the future (like, you know, the fact that Bodie's cath was rescheduled to June 18th due to a sinus infection). Because, really, that is what life is all about. Casting aside our worries. Leaning on Him. Looking to Him. And knowing that He alone is the answer to all, the fulfillment of all.