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Photo by Olga Kononenko on Unsplash

Writing about anything other than illness and strokes is difficult right now. If you have been here before, you understand. It is all-consuming. If you haven’t, your day will come. Either way, you will want to read what I have to say today. When your time comes and a loved one is ill, you eat, try to sleep and do what you have to, but during those early weeks after the diagnosis and  while the person is in the hospital? That is all you can think about! Everything you hear, see, listen to? It all relates to this one event.

How is your loved one going to be? Are they recovering? Have they had a good day? Does it look like they are going to get better? Did they have a bad day? Is that a bad sign or a temporary set-back? Did the doctor give a hopeful report? A discouraging one? Are medical personnel telling you the truth or are they hiding information? No matter how logical you try to be, your head seems to be full of questions that surround your loved one! Add to that the factor of exhaustion and you have a recipe for plenty of misunderstanding and even paranoia, in terms of all of the communications that are taking place!

If you are on the sidelines of a someone in the acute stage, you will also want to read this so you will have more understanding of what is happening. I had some clues from watching as a nurse. But didn’t really understand until I went through it.

The acute stage of illness draws from all your resources.

Understanding this will help you realize the exhaustion you feel when the acute stage is over.

Yes, it probably is a form of shock. For some people it is more obvious than others. Some of us laugh more when we are in shock. Others cry more. Some of us just sit in stunned silence! Some appear to have it all together but in their heads, they are not processing very well at all!

Some sit alone, away from people when they are stressed. Others need to be around people for some distraction and love. They can’t handle the craziness going on in their heads all by themselves. It feels good to be around some normal.  Most of us need a little of both.

Christians are just like everyone else. We feel too.

We are not above being hurt, suffering or being crushed by life’s circumstances.

As a child and teen, I grew up in a culture where we were told or insinuated that Christians somehow didn’t have normal feelings. Because they were Christians, they could rise above whatever happened. I tried to be one of those people. It sounded really good. It never quite worked out for me. I’m not one of those people who doesn’t feel anything. I tended to internalize everything so I could be like that. It didn’t work out well…at all!

The truth is, no one is one of those people. GOD made us with emotions. We feel. It is a good thing. It protects us from scoundrels, from taking on too much, from people who suck us dry and a variety of other things. If we ignore our feelings, we pay a heavy price on every level!

I prayed during times of trouble, but my tendency was to be a jumble of frantic with nerve endings sticking out everywhere. My mind tended to go every direction. These same people were ever present to tell me I wasn’t spiritual enough. I needed to devote more and I wouldn’t have all these struggles.

I’m here to tell you they were wrong! Dead wrong! (It’s true I wasn’t spiritual enough, but that wasn’t the reason for the struggles. I have a sinful nature and live in a very broken world. I have all kinds of issues. I’m a broken mess. But having more devotions isn’t going to “fix” those problems.)

Devotioning more doesn’t take feelings away. It doesn’t resolve them either. It can often be a kind of work we do to try to get rid of the anxiety they cause. If our devotioning is for the purpose of spending time in relationship with GOD, listening to Him and His Word, it will be comforting at least. But if it is hard, frantic work spent trying to “do better” it will only add anxiety to a volatile mix of issues I am struggling with in my life!

Devotions don’t fix our feelings.
Devotions have more to do with our relationship with GOD.

We need to learn how to ask for the help we need.

Sadly, I didn’t understand how to ask for help nor did I understand what was appropriate in terms of asking for help. I tended to feel like I was a lot of trouble to people. From the perspective of a parent now, I think it is sad that I grew up feeling so alone and unworthy of help. I didn’t learn how to be unapologetic for my existence until I was married.  My husband had to teach me to stop apologizing generically all the time. Sad, but very true.

Now, too many years too late, I’ve figured out that I haven’t done a good job ministering to people who were suffering over the years. Yes, I was sensitive to the fact that they were in pain, but I didn’t know how to acknowledge the pain of living in a broken world with people, especially people who were believers. On some level, I had to acknowledge my own pain and not dismiss it. I also had to learn to acknowledge the pain they were dealing with. Going through times of suffering helps us do that. We learn what it feels like to be in pain…and that it won’t kill us…even though it can feel like it at times!

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:22-27 ESV

Once Ron went to Rehab, I had time to catch my breath and catch up around the house, preparing for his return home.

Once we were out of the hospital and Ron was in Rehab, I was able to start breathing. He had Rehab all morning so I didn’t have to rush to the hospital in the mornings and I could start getting back to normal and catching up on the things I hadn’t done while he was in the hospital. That included lots of sleep and rest! Those 3 weeks while he was in Rehab, helped me get more grounded in preparations for his return home. Toward the end, I went down to observe his rehab. It was helpful to understand his limitations in Speech therapy and Occupational therapy. Shocking, but good to know.

 

**The original article was written less than a month after Ron’s stroke in 2015. It was too long, so I split it up recently into 2 posts.

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