“Waiting is not just about what I get at the end of the wait, but about who I become as I wait.” – Paul Tripp.
My Left Renal Vein Transposition surgical recovery was brutal.
After spending six days in the hospital, I was absolutely thrilled to be going home. I loved being in my own comfy bed surrounded by my loving family. I was thankful for every visit, meal, gift, card, & prayer from our phenomenal support group. But I was beaten to a complete pulp physically, emotionally, & spiritually.
I was extremely weak. I could barely leave my bed to use the restroom, & short showers took everything I had. My daily walks to prevent blood clots felt impossible even though they were only to our lamppost right outside our front door. I had no appetite. Just about everything I ate caused extreme nausea and/or vomiting. I was terrified of throwing up because of the shooting pain it sent through my raw, bloody, freshly sliced abdomen. Speaking of, I couldn’t even look at my incision. Simply the thought of it caused me to gag. When my Mom would clean it/apply fresh dressings I would close my eyes or hide under a pillow until she was finished.
The seizures I’d experienced in the hospital were the first of several complications. Within just days of being home, I had an extreme reaction to blood-thinners that made me quite anemic. I was pale, shaky, & covered in bruises with dark rims under my eyes. On July 5th, I was spontaneously rushed to UVA’s Emergency Room due to my severe anemia & a very alarming pain attack. After undergoing bloodwork & a CT scan, they found a large hematoma, which is basically just a solid ball of clotted blood. While it was nothing too serious & quite common after major surgeries, it was compressing the vein they’d just transpositioned, causing extreme discomfort & nausea.
To top it all off, the surgery I’d undergone to relieve my pain only ended up worsening it. “Excruciating” was redefined to an entirely new level.
Needless to say, the girl who’d blown people away with her resilience, strength, courage, positivity, & trust in God wasn’t in a fantastic frame of mind.
You see, this was the kind of brutal that makes you question why in the world you signed a consent form giving this hospital permission to put you through this hell. This was the kind of brutal that made you hate yourself for doing so. This was the kind of brutal that drains every last ounce of life out of you. This was the kind of brutal that hardly let you smile or laugh….the kind of brutal that makes you question God.
I felt like I’d been robbed of every last ounce of joy, laughter, & light I had left.
Social Media wouldn’t hear anymore about my health until December 2017. Around the end of July things started to look up! At least, I didn’t feel like a dead woman walking. 😉 My headaches were completely gone, my incision began to heal, I stopped throwing up, we got my anemia under control, my hematoma dissipated on its own without medical intervention, & even my pain began to ease. Over the next five months, I chose to only share happy things on social media: my first post-surgical outing with Dad & Hannah, dinner at Olive Garden with Aunt Tracey, a fun visit from dear friends in North Carolina, time spent outside with Luke, a pedicure with Aunt Krista, joining Mary Kay under my Momma, our Mary Kay fundraiser, starting a blog, family photos at the Lavender Farm, senior pictures, homecoming with Hannah, & a Thanksgiving girls day.
Because I wanted some privacy & a break from health questions/discussions, (& because I simply wasn’t emotionally ready yet) social media wouldn’t hear that my symptoms had begun to flare-up for the third time around mid-August….as soon as we’d stopped pain medication. They wouldn’t hear about the continual battles with severe thigh, back, abdomen, chest, & head pain. They wouldn’t hear about the constant battles I fought with nausea, dizziness, fatigue, premature fullness, weight loss, etc. They wouldn’t hear that I was still on bedrest more often than not. They wouldn’t hear about my scan & consultation with my surgeon in September due to the lack of improvement.
Yeah….we were still in the journey.
When I decided to have major surgery, I knew there was a 50% chance of success. I also knew there was an equal possibility of failure, but I hadn’t allowed myself to go there, to really think about the chance of it not working. Why? Because I’d just gone through hell for the sole reason of regaining normalcy, & I desperately needed it to be worth it.
But God had said no.
& just like that….we were back in another season of waiting.
“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)
Waiting can be torturous, can’t it?
We live in a world of instant gratification. We hate waiting, & want everything done immediately. Traffic, long lines, & even walking behind someone slower than you in the grocery store can rock our world. Then there are bigger things like relationships, finances, & health. When we don’t get answers when we want them, it can prompt irritation, frustration, & even hopelessness.
As a perfectionist, (& as a human being, honestly) it’s always the most difficult for me to wait when I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. Obviously, I want to know all the answers & I want to know they won’t hurt. I want a guaranteed positive outcome. It doesn’t matter if it takes time…as long as I know when/how it’ll be okay.
But God doesn’t always work that way. In fact, He rarely does. He works on an entirely different timetable, & to Him there’s nothing wrong with waiting. As a result, oftentimes it feels like God is dead silent & I’m left feeling anxious, discouraged, confused, & flat-out scared.
“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:20-21)
To be perfectly honest with you, I read this passage & think, “DUH!!” Abraham didn’t waver because he already knew what was going to happen…he would have descendants to number the stars! He had assurance of the outcome. I mean, if I knew the future with a solidified guarantee I’d be content in waiting too. 😛
But Abraham was human too. Sometimes he still doubted, especially as he got older in age. He was impatient & self-reliant at times. In fact, he even tried to fulfill God’s promise himself through Hagar.
But as his story teaches us, “something actually happens while nothing is happening. God uses waiting to change us.” -Jade Mazarin.
Vaneetha Risner says, “while Abraham was waiting, God was working. Molding his character. Teaching him patience. Building their friendship. It was in that twenty five year wait that Abraham got to know God intimately. It was in those seemingly wasted years that God transformed him. & after decades of waiting, Abraham was ready for the supreme test of his faith, when he was asked to sacrifice Issac, the son of promise. The son he had waited for.”
You see, Abraham didn’t waver because he already had assurance of the outcome….he didn’t waver because his faith wasn’t found in God’s promise of descendants. If it was, he never would’ve taken Issac up on that mountain. No….Abraham’s faith was deeply rooted in the trustworthiness of God, the knowledge that God could fulfill His promise in any way He saw fit.
“Abraham could risk it because his faith wasn’t in the promise alone. It was rooted in the Promisor. He wasn’t holding onto the promised outcome. He was holding onto God.” -Risner
I thought I’d learned the lesson of waiting. Lol, Grace. I definitely hadn’t mastered it yet. Heck, I still haven’t. Jesus can definitely teach you the same thing over & over again as many times as it takes. But you know what? Every minute of life isn’t always going to be a great spiritual awakening. God doesn’t always reveal Himself right away in grand, clear, undeniable ways. Sometimes, He leaves you waiting. Sometimes, He makes you look for the sweet, beautiful subtleties in the story. But even when you can’t see it, that doesn’t change the fact He is always in it weaving a greater story.
That season of waiting was slow, uncomfortable, & hard. Sometimes, I didn’t open my Bible for a month. Sometimes, my prayers were more like angry rants. Sometimes, my heart felt dead. Sometimes, I felt like I was talking to a wall. Sometimes, I felt angry, bitter, & hopeless.
But that season of waiting strengthened my faith, reminded me of God’s ways, made me more attentive to His voice, deepened my relationship with Him, solidified my trust in the Author, & played a major part of shaping me into the woman of Christ I am today. It reminded me that God can provide anything I need just as He sees fit in His perfect will & timing. It reminded me to take a deep breath, release my clenched hands, & trust that God is good at being God.
But arguably most importantly, it reminded me that waiting is one of the most precious gifts God can give us, because it teaches us to cling to Him rather than the outcome.
& I would desperately need those reminders in the months to come.
“God knows what I need; I do not. He sees the future; I can not. His perspective is eternal; mine is not. He gives me what is best for me when it is best for me.” Vaneetha Risner.