Brain Surgery, Part 3 of 3
Brain surgery isn’t the worst thing that can happen to your child. But it was the worst thing that had happened to my child.
I had tried to deal with our reality in a variety of ways: denial, pleading, logic, crying, stoicism. But when everything was said and done, it was time to face reality. It was going to happen, whether or not I faced it. I wanted to summon whatever courage I could muster and be brave.
However, there was very little of my own courage to summon forth. Every time the words brain surgery flitted through my mind, my knees buckled. My hands shook, my mouth felt like cotton, my stomach churned. However, I looked calm. People mislabeled me as “strong.” I wasn’t — I was holding all my emotions inside, trying to get through each day and carry on a somewhat routine schedule as a mom of three girls who badly needed normal.
Naptime was my fall-apart time. I could pour my heart out to the Lord unhindered. And that time was my saving grace. During that time I was free to think, pray, read and talk to God without worry — my tears could flow.
During one of those fall-apart private times, I remembered the words from years earlier that our pastor had told us about contentment. When I’d heard it, it was incomprehensible to me. But now I was staring that message in the face: could I be truly happy if I lost everything, but had Jesus? I felt God was pressing me to answer this, and the image of Abraham sacrificing Isaac played in and out of my mind as I was considering my answer. I pictured Jesus as He labored in prayer before facing the cross.
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c]
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
How many years had I read this same passage and never realized that Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross? It was a decision, a submission of His will. An act of obedience to His Father.
He was in anguish.
He prayed in earnest.
An angel came and strengthened Him — that’s how weak He was in His human form.
This Jesus — this was someone I could relate to.
This was a God I could trust.
So why was it so hard for me to give my daughter over to a brain surgeon who could save her life?
Because I wanted to think I had control.
But I didn’t. God had all the control over that operating room. And I knew I needed to give Him control over my happiness. With or without my happiness, the surgery was happening. I’d rather it be with my blessing and willing spirit. What I needed to do was give my control to God.
I gave God little pieces of my life: it started with the car I was driving. As I picked up my girls from school one day, their little voices chattering behind me, I whispered, “Lord, if I didn’t have this car, but I still had you, I’d be happy.”
It felt good to say that.
When we parked in the driveway of our too-small duplex, I turned off the ignition and sat looking at the back of that house. How often I’d begged God to be rid of this place that we’d purchased in a booming real estate market, months before the bottom had dropped out. Yet, if this house was taken away and we had nowhere to go … Suddenly that house looked pretty good.
But if I was going to give everything to God, it couldn’t just be the easy stuff. I took a deep breath and said, “If I didn’t have a home, but I had Jesus, I’d be content.”
As I helped the girls out of the car, I marveled at what I’d said. As we made our way to the back door, I realized there was more I needed to do. I made a beeline for my bed and knelt beside it. I knew it was now or maybe never.
One by one, I committed my family to God, acknowledging that my husband and my children were never mine to begin with, but I’d held them tightly, with a closed-fisted selfishness. I’d been fearful of trusting the One who created them. Now I was actively giving them back to the One they belonged to in the first place. The One who loved them even more than I did. The One who knew how many hairs were on each head. The One who knew how many breaths they took. The One who had big plans for them. The One who knew the moment they would arrive in this world and the moment they would leave this world.
They were not mine. They were His, to do with as He wanted.
Including my sweet Kristen.
I had to be okay if He chose to take her February 18,
during brain surgery, or any other day.
He did not choose to take her that day. The surgery was successful. Her recovery was so swift and smooth it surprised me.
But the biggest surprise for me was the deep peace I felt during her surgery. I almost expected not to see her again, because of the thorough preparation God had done within me. That’s not to say I was unemotional — when the surgical team took Kristen, Rick and I clung to each other and wept. But throughout the hours in the waiting room, and the next days in the hospital, I was filled with peace. God loved her and was fully in control.
He is always in control.