I have to start off by apologizing if this post is more ramble-y and unorganized than normal. I am pretty emotionally raw right now & too utterly exhausted to do a lot of proof reading. So just bear with me here. Or stop reading. Your choice; this is ‘Murica.
My family has had some serious blows this past month. Like, rattle-you-to-your-core-make-you-reevaluate-your-entire-life blows. And even though these past two weeks especially have been hell, and I’ve lost weight & hair due to stress & can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep…I have gained one amazing thing. GRACE.
I rarely talk about religion, and even more rarely write about it, but I’ve been having an existential crisis over here & just really need to process everything. I grew up in a Lutheran household, had my First Communion around 8, took two years of Confirmation class in middle school & was confirmed in 8th-ish grade. But in my early college years I got confused, than angry, than skeptical. And I stopped. I stopped praying, I stopped going to church, I even stopped believing in God for awhile. As I got older & saw amazing things happened, I came to the realization that there HAS to be a greater power. There just has to be. And I left it at that.
Until about two weeks ago. My momma (who is my rock, my compass, my best friend) was preparing for surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid. I was 1000 miles away, trying to get ready for work & just an emotional wreck. Which I generally am anyway, but this time I couldn’t even pretend that I wasn’t. I just sat there and prayed for the first time in years, tears streaming down my face, utterly paralyzed at the thought of cancer taking my mother. I waited all damn day to hear the news (we were assure that as soon as they got the thyroid out, the surgeon would know for sure if it was cancerous and if/where it had spread) and then I experienced my first true-blue miracle; I was told that my mother’s cancerous thyroid was actually, not cancerous. That several tests & even a genome screening that is 99.9% accurate came were WRONG and her thyroid, though lumpy & sick, was not cancerous. I hit my knees like a sack of potatoes & just said “thank you thank you thank you” like a broken record. I wasn’t really sure who I was praying to, but I knew I need to say thanks. And it was then that I realized I was having a moment of Grace. A particularly gnarly word to define; but according to a Pinterest quote it “means that all your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of shame.”
Whoa. Heavy, right? But really, I feel that in that one instance I said “thank you” to some vague entity up beyond the clouds, the burden of the world that I created-the failed relationship, the resulting beautiful child, the daily struggle of having no money, the loneliness-was shifted off my shoulders & onto Someone Else’s. I still have to deal with the resulting consequences, and live my life & take responsibilities for my actions, but I don’t have to do it alone. (Which is a very important lesson for my stubborn, independent ass to learn.)
And just when I thought I was starting to figure it out, WA-BAM!
I got hit with another doozy. A bigger one. A scarier one.
My own personal Superhero was rushed to the ER by my 3 day post-op mother & by the end of the night was in a medically induced coma in the ICU. I flew down the next day, not sure of the news that would greet me & sat in stunned silence as my courageously stoic Momma carefully explained to me & my brother the dire situation our father was in. I had a running prayer rambling through my brain for days…it made no sense & I wasn’t even conscious that I was doing it until words would pop up in my head in bright RED as if that would make God realize how serious and desperate I was. It was the scariest week of my life, every day would bring a tidbit of good news & a dollop of not-so-great news. When he stabilized & we were all able to catch our breath I realized that praying was second nature to me again. I spit them out before I even realized what was going on…sometimes it was just a word. “Please.” Or, “thank you.” Infrequently it was a coherent thought, and very rarely was it a formal, structured prayer. But I knew God was hearing them, because I saw the improvements that medicine couldn’t explain. I saw family & friends ban together from all over the country & pray over my daddy. I heard friends I hadn’t talked to in months/weeks pray for a man they barely knew (my father is an enigma to anyone outside our very close circle) & ask their friends and their friends friends to pray for him. I watched him literally pounding on Death’s Doorstep & then a few days later argue with his nurse about letting him get up to pee.
Add this to my mother’s non-cancerous cancerous thyroid & I cannot NOT believe in the power of prayer anymore. I wouldn’t say I’ve been “born again”, or that I know EXACTLY what I believe, because I definitely don’t. I’m still very skeptical over the whole Jesus thing, and untrusting of organized religion. I have Buddhas all over my apartment & meditate (sometimes) & do yoga (occasionally). I use crystals and essential oils to heal. I still say the Lord’s Prayer to stave off nightmares. But I know in my heart of hearts that there is a God. I know that I was given a healthy dose of grace, with a side of miracles and I can’t deny that. I just can’t.
Tonight a family friend & I sat & talked with a woman about her husband who was 3 rooms away from my dad’s & struggling for life. We walked back together to the ICU just as her husband of 50+ years stopped breathing. I sat in Daddy’s room listening to the alarms go off & praying for a stranger I had never met. I realized how close our family came to being in that situation (like just by a few minutes), and how lucky & blessed we really truly are. That man died. My daddy didn’t. I feel just as shaken as I did the night I got the news that dad was slipping. Life is so fragile, even when you think it’s not. Medicine fails, even when statistics say it doesn’t. Prayer is powerful even when you doubt it. You’re not alone in the dark, even when you’re sure you are.