In whom do I trust…

Kai KickI love this picture!  This is Kai doing a jumping side kick.  That’s his dad holding the board that he is breaking.  You can see that there is another person behind him helping to brace for the impact.  It amazes me that someone can be standing perfectly still one second, and in the next jump that high to break a board.  There is a lot of power in that kick…and it takes a lot of trust on the part of the person holding the board because the target area is barely bigger than their foot.  They have to trust that the person is going to hit the board…and not them.  If you’ve ever watched “America’s Funniest Videos,” you know that the kicker is not always successful (smile).

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m joining Holley Gerth today in her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge to encourage others.  She usually gives us a theme each week, but this week she gave us our choice of topic.  I decided to write about trust because it’s something that has recently been tested in my family.

On December 11th, my husband Mike was unable to get out of bed.  He had extreme pain in his lower back and literally could not move.  By the next day, I needed to take him to the emergency room.  Let me tell you…that was not easy, and not just because he is 6’2″ and I am only 5’0″ (smile).  The pain was excruciating.  The hospital gave him some pain meds and referred him to an orthopedic surgeon.  When we saw the surgeon, he explained that he suspected a herniated disc was the culprit.  He explained that the body can heal itself given some time, but sometimes surgery is necessary.  My husband decided to try the non-surgical route first.  Well six weeks later, working from home because he couldn’t drive, and hobbling around like an 80-year-old man, he still wasn’t better so he went for an MRI.  At the follow-up visit, we learned that it was indeed a herniated disc…a really big one.  We left the office with a decision to be made…have surgery, or see if the body would heal itself in time.

After doing some research, my husband decided that he should consult with a neurosurgeon to get another opinion as the disc was really pressing on the nerves in his spine.  After consulting with a neurosurgeon, and hearing again that the herniation was very large, he decided to have the surgery.  There was just one problem…they were calling for 17 inches of snow in our area starting the night before surgery.  Sigh.  In the meantime, Mike had done some research (more extensive than he originally had done) and discovered some things about this surgeon that he was a little apprehensive about.  He prayed about it and asked God to give him a sign if he shouldn’t go through with the surgery.  Since the forecast was calling for so much snow, he called the doctor’s office the night before to see if they would be canceling due to the weather.  They assured him that they rarely cancel surgery and it was still a go in the morning.  The hospital was 35 minutes from our house so we decided to get a hotel room 3 miles away to make sure we could make it there in the snow.  The next morning we got up and low and behold…they canceled the surgery. Mike was beside himself.  He wondered what he should do.  Was God telling him not to have the surgery?  Or was God telling him to go to a different doctor?  What did it mean?  He asked for a sign and this surely seemed like a sign. I told him that since he had reservations about the surgeon, I would take the cancellation to mean that he should look for a different one.

So, after tons of research, and asking around to lots of people, he found a doctor that was an orthopedic and neurosurgeon.  He had a very good reputation.  So, we went to see him and were told the same thing.  At this point, we were almost 3 months into this and he was tired of living in pain so he decided to go with the surgery…again.  As the day of surgery was nearing, another snow storm was coming our way…really??  Luckily it wasn’t as big as predicted and it was all clear by surgery day. There was just one problem…Mike started to feel better 3 days before the surgery date.  He had been walking hunched over for months, but suddenly he could stand upright.  He wasn’t completely pain-free, but the pain was suddenly and significantly diminished.  At first he thought maybe he was just having a good day, but after 3 days with less pain he wondered if he was getting better.  Did this mean he was healing?

The day of surgery finally arrived.  We chatted with the nurse as she prepped him.  She asked about his injury and he went through the whole story.  She said she had been a nurse for 34 years surgery had only been canceled twice in all those years.  It seemed clear to us that God didn’t want Mike to have the surgery with that first doctor.  So, the surgeon came in and Mike explained how he was feeling.  The doctor said he didn’t have to have the surgery if he felt like he was getting better, it wouldn’t hurt his feelings (smile).  Mike’s struggle was that he had been praying for healing and he felt like maybe he was healing.  But in his own words, he is a blockhead and he knows that God knows that about him so he had specifically asked for a clear sign.  His partial healing confused him.  Did it mean God would eventually totally heal him?  I felt peace about the surgery, but Mike did not and he wanted to feel peace about whether or not to have the surgery.  What to do, what to do?  The doctor left so that we could chat about it.  Mike said he was praying for a clear sign, but this didn’t feel clear (like surgery getting canceled).  Since he didn’t feel like he had a clear sign, and he knew that God wouldn’t try to confuse him, he trusted that surgery was the right decision.

The surgery took twice as long as it was supposed to because when the doctor went in he couldn’t even see the nerves.  80% of the spinal cavity was filled with the disc and it had wrapped around the nerves.  The reason why he had started to feel better is because the nerve was being choked and was actually dying.  Good thing he had the surgery!

I wrote in another post about “what if’s” and how you can get stuck with that thought pattern.  That particular post dealt with the “what if’s” of the past.  My husband’s “what if’s” were for his future.

What if he died on the operating table?
What if he was paralyzed?
What if the surgery didn’t work?
What if he got an infection?
What if his body eventually healed itself?

On and on…

These “what if’s” had metaphorically paralyzed him.  It made it difficult to make decisions.  He was trying to put his trust in God, but it was confusing.  Looking back it seemed clear that God didn’t want him to have surgery the first time.  The second time was not as clear.  We think that we want clear, concise answers from God all the time.  If we really thought about it though, I don’t think we would like that.  It seems to me that we could become somewhat robotic.  There wouldn’t be much of a relationship if we didn’t have to lean into Him, rely on Him, call on Him in our times of need.  But this trust thing is hard because deep down we know that things aren’t always going to turn out the way we want them to turn out.  We have to trust that God will be with us no matter what happens.  He will always be there to help us.  And He answers us…not always with the answer we want, or with the timing we would like, but He does answer.  The first surgery was canceled.  We felt that was an answer.  The second time it wasn’t canceled and things seemed unclear.  But we got our answer after Mike stepped out in faith.  The doctor said his injury was so bad he wouldn’t have gotten better on his own so surgery was necessary.  In fact, he would have gotten worse.

I had a situation recently that involved trust.  I’m in a women’s study at my church and there are some new ladies in the group so I knew that not everyone knew that my son is gay.  We were going around the room and answering questions.  There were several ways I could have answered the question, but I decided to answer in a way that let them know my situation.  I have a gay son.  I had to trust the ladies in the room which is not easy because in the past when I’ve shared some gossip has come out of it.  But I had to trust that this is what God wants me to do.  He wants me to tell my story.  And I trust that He is with me every step of the way.  It’s the only way I am able to do it.

As Christians, we want to do God’s will.  We consult with Him when we need to make decisions.  However, when we don’t feel like we get a direct answer, we need to step out in faith and trust God.  He can’t work though us if we are paralyzed by fear and indecision.

Psalm 91:2 (NIV)

2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

And remember to love each other…because love matters.

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