During this whole "living at the hospital" ordeal there have been times, events and circumstances that have been exercises in total frustration. When I went back last weekend to visit, she was doing much better after the second actual surgery to drain fluid and blood from both of her lungs and chest cavity. When I say surgery I mean under total, deep anesthesia. There were many, many procedures that required a lighter level of anesthesia....and some of the nasty things they did to her "didn't require" any at all. She had three PICC lines put in with great, great difficulty (and total lack of functionality)....a pacemaker (that caused bleeding into the cavity around her heart and collapsed her lung...main reason for the second surgery) numerous scope things....down the throat...another round on the ventilator…so many unpleasant, frightening ordeals. Yet when I went back this weekend she was quite calm. In a good mood actually. It was almost as if God held her there in the fire (hospital) until she stopped struggling. And I am learning some lessons about struggling too.
“A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”(Proverbs 16:9)
Lest anyone think I've joined the total determinism gang, I haven't. I do believe however that we are not totally free and there will be situations we get stuck in no matter how much we struggle. No matter how much squawking and bitching and moaning we do, we are going to be held in the fire (a place or situation where we don’t want to be) until we stop struggling. That is the essence of my car seat analogy.
When my kids were little they always...always… rode in their car seats the whole time the car was in motion. No exceptions. Protesting…kicking, screaming, fighting made no difference whatsoever to the final outcome. The car seat was non negotiable. One way or another they were going in the car seat and they were staying there until we reached our destination. Fortunately, they never put up much of a fuss and getting them into their car seat was no big deal but I’ve seen some life and death struggles going on in other vehicles…parent pitted against a 20 lb child.
Some of the situations God puts us in are also non negotiable (and for our good) and we cannot get out of them...no how...no way. Sometimes the only thing we can choose is our attitude. My attitude throughout this hospital ordeal was pretty good. Could have been better but I know my mom appreciated me being there. Looking through the “retrospectascope” I realize I should have struggled less and accepted more and I would have saved myself a lot of stress and frustration. The whole thing was a “carseat moment.”
Reminds me of two similar thoughts about making plans. One from the Qu'ran...the other from the book of James. Both pretty much say the same thing...and remind me that I need to seek his will and way first. To do otherwise is a bit like beating my head against a brick wall. And you know the saying about how good it feels when you stop....
SHAKIR 18:23/24 And do not say of anything: Surely I will do it tomorrow, Unless Allah pleases; and remember your Lord when you forget and say: Maybe my Lord will guide me to a nearer course to the right than this.
James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
So I spent all weekend hanging out in her hospital room. She is feeling a lot better (and at this writing is actually in the rehab part of the hospital working on the final phase of her recovery) A lot of the time she dozed in the chair…and I sat quietly reading…making use of their guest wifi. At one point, late on Sunday afternoon she asked me the same question she asked shortly after her surgery.....
"This was a wasted day wasn't it?"
"You....me.....both of us" she replied.
Ahhhhhh......but it didn’t feel like a wasted day. And after all, in God's economy, nothing is wasted. Eventually, all things work together for good, don't they? I don’t think any of the time either of us spent in the “carseat” was wasted. Some of the lessons are yet to be revealed…but they are there, contained in the experience. The tricky part is figuring it all out.