I’ve gotta tell ya, this day really snuck up on me this year.
December 27, 2018. The second year anniversary of my mom’s stroke.
Two years ago today, my parents and I were out to dinner at a nice restaurant downtown, when out of nowhere, my picture-of-health, 63-yea-old mother had a stroke that initially left her unable to speak, and unable to recognize me as her daughter.
I remember watching my dad carry her into the emergency room “Marissa Cooper-style” from the OC. I will never be able to rid that image of my lifeless mother from my mind.
Nor will I ever forget the way in which I pleaded with God in that hospital room, to save my mother and keep her alive.
Since then, thanks be to God, she has had a miraculous recovery. To the point that you wouldn’t even know she had a stroke in the first place.
The courage she has shown, the determination and fervor with which she has attacked her recovery, and the positive attitude she’s sustained through it all has left me incredibly inspired and in awe of this amazing woman I have the privilege of calling “mom.”
Since then, she and I have walked 80 miles on the El Camino de Santiago de Compostella as a pilgrimage of gratitude for her healing. She has traveled in the footsteps of Fr. Jacque Marquette – whom she saw in her near death experience vision. (Which you can listen to in this post.)
But more than that, she has reclaimed her life and is a living and breathing picture of God’s mercy and faithfulness.
In addition to my mom’s incredible transformation these past two years, I too, have undergone significant growth of my own, as a result of this impactful season for our family.
Two years ago, the young woman writing this blog was much different than the young woman sitting at the keyboard today.
There is a depth of faith, she possesses that can only be obtained through pitch black nights, without even the light of the moon to provide comfort.
There is a dependence on God that I have learned these past two years that I almost cannot put into words.
What began as a desperate pleading – bargaining – begging with God in that hospital room that night, just to keep her alive, has bloomed in to an absolute trust that transcends understanding, logic, and circumstance.
Days spent being strong, brave and anchored for my family, ended in silent tears on my pillow, filled with fear and heartbreak, anxiety, confusion, anger – the emotions I was hurling at God behind closed doors that year were so intense and so raw. And He took them all. Every day, nailing them to the cross that He had given me to carry that year.
But that’s the thing. We all go through seasons where we are given a particularly difficult cross to bear. No one is immune from it. It is part of our Christian walk.
“Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
Day after day, Jesus would meet me in the morning, and give me the strength, hope and endurance to make it through the day.
Each day, calming my fear. Sustaining my emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Shouldering my anger. And blanketing me in peace, moment by moment, that He was in control. It was my job to trust Him. And to pass on the fruits of the spirit that He was providing me, even though I was unaware of it at the time.
It is only looking back, now, from a place of hindsight and gratitude, that I can see the gifts of the Holy Spirit all over that season of trying times.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22.
Love. – Every day, I woke up thinking that it was impossible for me to love my mom any more than I did in that very moment. Until, of course I woke up the following day.
Joy – The bright bursts of joy during that season were unparalleled. Be it dance parties in the kitchen. Tender moments that we shared because of the presentness we all had together, working towards the same goal.
Peace: Though tumultuous and full of uncertainty, most mornings brought with them the peace that everything was going to be okay. Maybe not right now, but somehow, I knew that whatever was to come, we would survive together.
Patience – This one stretched me, but was the most important. As I had to learn to breathe and offer the grace with which she had shown me my entire life.
Kindness – There was one thing that didn’t change in my mom after her stroke, and that was the kindness of her heart. It is her filter through which she sees the world. And then of course, seeing the kindness of her friends and our community, rallying around her. It was a beautiful thing.
Goodness – I witnessed first hand, the way in which God can take even the darkest of situations and bring about good from them. And the most beautiful example of this, is the blessing of time and togetherness that my family experienced as a result.
Faithfulness – Learning to depend on God in such a total and complete way – my faith had never been tested – or strengthened – more.
Gentleness – It was revealed to me just how gentle is the hand of the Father – and I saw that through the love of my earthly father. Seeing his heart through all of this. I have never been so inspired or in awe of him either.
And lastly, self-control – This one really was a gradual bell curve of a transformation. But learning to put my needs second was a shift that I was not used to, but that I now am grateful for.
All in all, every day brought with it new challenges and new lessons that were beautiful and full of grace, that I wouldn’t change for the world.
Because that’s the thing about our crosses.
They are beautiful in a very transcendent way. They force us to our absolute limit, only to reveal to us a beautiful truth that we couldn’t arrive at any other way.
Jesus showed us the way in this: somethings you have to endure, to allow true freedom and true transformation to occur.
We have to die to self, to live with Christ.
And that is what happened that year.
I know that Jesus is in control. And I know that He is going to give me everything I need to get through those seasons of desperation and fear. He gives us what we need. Sometimes it just takes a little time and distance to be able to see His hand at work.
The Holy Spirit was working overtime for me that season. What a blessing now, to be able to look back, with my healthy and thriving mom, and see the His fruits in our lives.
What a cause for praise and thanksgiving. What a Father we have.
Thank you, Jesus, for helping my mom, my family, and me, through our season of need. You are our divine Protector, poised and ready to get us through the storm. Waiting to shape our situation into an outcome of goodness and truth.
“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness; These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing.” Deuteronomy 2:7
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