Today's heart-warming guest post comes from Madona Lawindy - a close friend of mine and an original founding member of St. Timothy & St. Athanaisus church who has guest posted on my blog before. You can follow her on twitter, @MSeed0906. If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
There’s a phrase that I have been repeating absentmindedly since my first days of attending Sunday School. “He did it because He loved us.” This is of course referring to Jesus when He came to earth and was crucified on our behalf. I always got it but I never really got it. That is, until this past month, which led to one of the most horrible weeks of my life.
My husband and I had some incredible plans for the New Year, and we were planning to make 2018 the year we really took charge of our lives. We knew we would be with family for a lengthy amount of time for the holidays, so we set our days where we were going to vision plan while the grandparents kept the kids busy. See, I was going to plan my life so it looked the way that I wanted it to. Ha! I think God laughed when he totally foiled all our plans to plan.
Just around Thanksgiving, my husband and I were out shopping. All was well and we were exploring when I felt a somewhat familiar twinge in my stomach that felt slightly like an upset stomach. Within no more than a couple minutes, the pain was so horrible, that I couldn’t stand up straight enough to walk to the car without a lot of trouble. I told my husband to check out and meet me at the car.
In those few minutes it took him to get through the register in a fairly empty store, I was screaming from the pain I was feeling. It was radiating from my stomach, to my back, to my shoulders, and through my chest. I was SURE, at 30 years old, I was having my first heart attack. We made a trip to the emergency room where I was diagnosed with gallstones, and found out that most people do in fact confuse the symptoms with a heart attack.
This surprised me because I didn’t meet the usual criteria for such a diagnosis, but, I had recently given birth (a month before), and pregnancy, along with gestational diabetes were two of the greatest risk factors of developing gallstones. The doctor told me it’s extremely painful but not horribly serious, prescribed pain medicine, and said that I just needed to make an appointment with my primary care doctor for follow up.
I never did. Big mistake.
All of December passed without a hitch and no more episodes so I didn’t really think about it again. Finally, New Year’s came and celebrations ended. Suddenly, I found myself in a similar position as that dreadful night around Thanksgiving, keeled over and unable to breathe. I grabbed the prescription I was given for pain which gave me a couple of hours of relief before it hit again. It was all downhill from there.
Every single meal-- no matter how light, how healthy, or how small-- brought on a raging pain that I have decided was pretty equal to labor, if not a little worse. I basically stopped eating that week and made an appointment with a doctor locally who decided the only solution was to remove the gallbladder all together. I was going to wait until we were back home from vacation for the holidays, after my husband and I had time to focus on ourselves a bit, but my body had other plans.
To make a long story short, I once again found myself at the ER and sent to surgery the next day. My gallbladder was removed, but my fight wasn’t over. There were stones still stuck in my ducts that required a second surgery the very next day. I underwent that surgery successfully, but the resulting pain was unbearable.
I was discharged and told that I just needed some time to recover. I spent one night at home before I had to make yet another trip to the ER with what only can be described as a fire burning and licking the inside of my entire midsection. The pain was so wretched, that I could barely form words. I was readmitted with a complication and spent the next few days on a regiment of strong pain medicines.
One night in particular got so bad, that I lost all composure with nurses and angrily demanded they sedate me until this was all over. I paced the floors, knelt in front of the bed squashing my face into the mattress screaming, pounded the wall with my fist, stomped my feet, tore at a blanket until my knuckles were white, and all but knocked my own self out just to be rid of the pain I was feeling. In the worst way, I learned that there are DEFINITELY worse pains than labor pains.
After a long battle of trying to will and fight the pain away, I looked at my poor, helpless husband and said to him weakly, “I give up. I can’t fight anymore.” I sat myself on the bed cross-legged, stacked four pillows, and leaned forward on them (because lying down somehow brought on the worst of it) and just let the pain engulf me.
For two more hours, I kept hearing my husband try to talk to me, and kiss me on the head, and comfort me, but I couldn’t speak or move or show that I was with him at all. The pain was so unbearable that breathing became laborious. He described me as almost comatose and it by far scared him the most of anything else.
It wasn’t until the early morning hours when they added yet another powerful medicine to the concoction of four I was already taking that the pain barely subsided and I started to feel more like myself. Our entire holiday vacation was spent skipping around doctor visits, trips to the ER, and hospital stays. Vision planning went out the window, and all our plans to take control the way we wanted to went with it.
So. Here’s the thing. I went into lengthy detail to describe the agony for one reason. In alllllll of that, I wouldn’t even for a single millisecond be able to handle seeing my husband, daughter, son, mother, brother, father, in-laws, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, or a single other being for that matter, go through that. I would 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, even knowing what I know now, do it again in a HEARTBEAT if I knew it meant that it would never happen to a single other person that I love.
My husband and I argued the entire week over who had it worse. He would tell me, “You are literally suffering! How do I have it worse??” and I would tell him plainly, “because it would be so much harder if I was you and had to watch you go through this. Especially knowing I could do nothing but let it happen.”
And so came my two-part revelation. Why is it that when I wanted to change my life for the better, God threw this giant wrench in the plan and made it so we successfully accomplished nothing?? I began to think of my toddler daughter and her “terrible twos” stage of fighting for her independence. She wants nothing more than to make her own decisions and do things herself, even if it’s going to harm her, or if it’s to her detriment.
I then began to think of all the times she didn’t listen to me and I would have to take the very thing she was fighting for away from her. Right before I take it, I always try to think of ways to help her get out of trouble, just to give her a chance, but I know she has to understand the authority that comes from me.
Do I want her to land herself in hysteria and take away a thing she loves? Absolutely not. Do I want to go back on my word so she thinks she can do anything she wants? ABSOLUTELY not. If I could find a way to show her that I love her SO MUCH and at the same time give her a way out of being in trouble without sacrificing my law, I always do. If I can make her understand that my authority is for her good and demonstrate that in a positive way, I always do. I continued to ponder that. Then, it clicked.
This great God of ours gave our ancestors an ultimatum in the Garden of Eden and just couldn’t bear to let things end that way. You see, the great fall happened when we decided to forget the authority and take charge of our own decisions. I imagine God (in all his ever-loving Glory) looked down at us, His children, and said, “I can’t let them suffer. I just can’t let them spend eternity like that. I have to do it. I have to give them a way out!”
And so, He sent His Son. When He walked among us as a human, He was giving us a chance to remember who He is. When He performed miracles, He was reminding us of His love. When He rebuked demons and commanded the oceans and the winds, He was reminding us of His authority. When He was crucified, He was reminding us that He would rather suffer in our place. Jesus felt every single bit of the pain He endured. He knew exactly what was coming and didn’t want to feel it, but wanted to do it for us Because He Loved Us.
Every curse word hurled at Him by His own creation pierced His heart, every beating received was an indescribable raw agony, every nail driven in Him was enough to make the King of Kings cry out in suffering, and yet, He willingly and lovingly did it knowing all the while exactly how bad it would be. He knew it would be too much to watch us go through this and suffer a painful eternity. He continues to watch us make choices that could very well still lead us to that horrible path He so wishes we wouldn’t take. He hates it so much. Believe me.
Does this mean that God wants me to stop planning and making a vision for my life? No way. But He does want to make sure that I am keeping Him at the forefront of these decisions, and reminding me that His law is love and my ultimate goal is not to have all the things I want, but to end up with HIM.
I don’t know what Judgment Day is going to look like (nobody does), but I know He will be aching and trying to find ways to give us a chance until our last breath. Don’t miss the clues when He tries to slow you down or seemingly throw you off your path! He, as a loving Father, traded places with us to try to give us a way out, just to be with Him. Please take it.
Because He loves YOU.