The night before surgery was long and agonizing. It was a night of trying to sleep while facing down giants. It was a night where it was clear there was no turning back. This was going to happen. And while I wanted the tumor gone, surgery validated it’s existence… made me feel vulnerable… caused pain even while it caused healing. I got news that night that I had a UTI–and that was on top of the ruptured ear drum a few days before and other ‘minor’ but very poorly time ailments of the week prior.
To make matters worse, they told us that Andrew and Lainey couldn’t stay. Why I hadn’t planned for or thought of this contingency I’m not sure. He headed back for a sleepless night at the lodge, pacing back and forth with Lainey who was used to having Mom right there to nurse her back to sleep, and I gulped back tears as he walked out the door to follow the adamant orders of the nurses who had to follow their policy but seemed to be missing the patient shrinking and scared and just wanting the comfort of baby and lover by her side before facing down the giant of surgery.
I lay awake that night wondering what would happen. I wondered about the bright lights of the OR and how it would feel to be laid out on the table and positioned to be cut into. I worried about the pain afterward. I worried about what the doctors would find and what would wait for me on the other side of surgery. A small part of me that I tried to keep tucked away wondered about things like side effects… and worse… whether or not I would make it through. My surgery wasn’t a lifetime movie high-stake surgery, but knowing the twists things can take in this world, the fear was there.
I remember it being dark. I remember the room feeling so foreign. I remember not wanting to have to do the next day but knowing that I had to. There was no way but through it.
Counting down the days that are all too short until Husband leaves for deployment… I have to stop myself from saying, “Don’t Go,” more than a handful of times a day. He has to go. It’s his job. It’s what we do. There is no way around it. But to be honest I Want so desperately for us not to have to do this again. The first time he left I remember sobbing and sobbing and sobbing and yelling at God that I wanted him back right now and knowing that it just wasn’t possible. I know the importance of his job and it’s not that I don’t want him to do it. It’s just that while we do what we do willingly, it always feels like I’m losing a vital part of my heart and being during the time that he’s gone. The same sucking vortex of emptiness happens each time he leaves. We know he’ll be back and we do life as normal and I try to avoid the sobbing and screaming these days, but that same feeling is there. There’s just no way to go, but through it.
Jesus in the garden… just before He is handed over to be interrogated, whipped, and crucified. He is so troubled that he sweats blood. He pleads with God to take away His cup of suffering. He begs to not have to go through with it–for God to find another way. And we know the rest of the story. He says, “But ultimately God–May your will be done.” The only way he can go is through it. Even Jesus, who is as much God as He is man, had no way but to go but through it.
It strikes me that we go through many Gethsemanes in the course of life. Don’t get me wrong, the ‘cups of suffering’ of surgery or a deployment are NOTHING like what Christ endured for us on the cross. The darkness of that moment when it seemed like God turned His back makes our cups of suffering look like thimbles full of water.
But the cup comes, and we drink of it. We go through it. There is no way around it. We take up our cross and with Christ, who understands the way of suffering and of difficult and of hard… We go through it. We see it through, most often because we have no other choice.
He is there… And in some way it seems to me… we get to be there with Him. We get a glimpse into that suffering. We know that He understands us because He walked the dusty roads of earth as a man. He comforts us. He is a great high priest who was walked in our shoes. But in some little way… WE get a glimpse into Him and the path He walked. In some way it’s almost as if we get to be with Him in His suffering.
Just as beautiful is the thought that God doesn’t waste suffering He doesn’t waste any of it. He works all things for the good of those who love Him, which… doesn’t make all things by their very definition good, but instead means that he can redeem all things for good.
Something about that preaches to me. It speaks deeply into the hard experiences of this world. It gives meaning to even the small burdens I carry and the roads I walk when there is no way but through it.