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Feb2TueMy husband's unexpected heart surgery brought me to my knees. February 2, 2016 by Beth Julien
The summer of 2015 was a scary time for our family. My husband went for a stress test, failed it within the first minute and was taken immediately to the hospital for heart surgery.
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We were in shock. At first, all I could think of was, What if he suffers a lot? What if I lose my life partner? What if my young adult children have to grieve for their father? Then practical questions crowded in. Do I know how to pay the bills and look after the house while he's in hospital, or if he passes away? What will I do without him to help me think things through in life? And then even more immediate concerns took over. With so much of my time taken up on out-of-town hospital trips, do I have enough food in the house? But the biggest question was, What if all of this is too much to handle and it overwhelms me?
For three weeks, as he struggled to recover from the surgery and then endured some serious setbacks, I remained in a state of anxiety. I got everything done that needed doing, but I was on high alert, in fear for him, myself and our family. Questions kept surfacing. What if I've done or said things that I regret? Have I always been kind to him, and, if not, will I get the chance to make things right? How will I comfort and reassure my husband who is scared, counsel my kids and, at the same time, care for my own emotional well-being?
Needless to say, sleep did not come easily. Some days, it didn't come at all. Not one tear fell—I couldn't find the time or the ability to shed them. People told me to take care of myself, but I didn't know what that actually meant. All I could do was manage the moment; caring for myself would have to come later.
Helpers arrived at my side, like angels from God, visiting, joining in the daily travel to the hospital, grocery shopping, making meals, praying with me, and daily e-mail and Facebook messages. I felt the physical arms and hands of Jesus himself, ready to support and comfort me as I stumbled through those first few weeks. But when everyone was gone at the end of the day, and I was alone, the fears returned. I couldn't stop my mind from spinning with worry and dread. What is going to happen? How could life be so ordinary one moment and be turned upside down the next? Serious spiritual questions arose. Do I really trust God with absolutely anything that comes my way? Is this the big moment of truth for my faith?
Helpers arrived at my side, like angels from God
Thankfully, wise words from friends and family continued to pour in: “You and your husband are in the capable hands of God. Keep your mind from rushing to the worst possible outcome. You don't have to be brave and strong all the time. Lean on others, including church friends, who show the radical love of Christ. You have a Saviour who knows and loves your family―trust him and stay close to him.” And finally, “Focus your mind on things other than illness―positive, happy and uplifting things.” Just like it says in the Bible verse song I memorized as a young Sunday school child: “Whatsoever things are worthy, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, let your thoughts these things pursue.
Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are pure, and if there be praise or virtue, think on these things—they endure” (Philippians 4:8).
Life slowly settled down as my husband recovered and our family started to breathe, shed some tears and sleep again. When I look back, I see how God worked through doctors and hospital staff, my husband's strong and co-operative spirit, the support of friends and family, positive thoughts, God's healing power and prayer.
There is so much more of life to be enjoyed. What a lovely thought!
Reprinted from The Salvation Army Oshawa Temple's blog.
Beth Julien attends The Salvation Army Oshawa Temple, Ont. She is a mom, wife and abstract artist. She enjoys books on psychology, biography and historical fiction. In her spare time, she loves to write and record sacred music, sing, play the piano, photograph nature and spend time with friends and family.