Prior to our youngest daughter's birth, I felt like I had a pretty good spiritual life. I went to church every week, read my Bible, and prayed. My faith had never really been shaken. I continued to lean into my faith during those early NICU days but then things started to get really hard. Every time we thought we were headed in the right direction, something else would pop up.
From absolute joy one day thinking that surgery had been a success and we would soon be heading home, to absolute devastation the following day when she had her first seizure and we were back to so many unknowns. Then we learned that she had suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of the doctors during the operation which left even more unknowns. Would our daughter ever walk? Would she be able to talk? Will she be a “vegetable” her whole life?
The more things that went wrong, the more I found myself discouraged and asking God why. Why us? Why does our baby girl have to go through so much suffering? Why can't we just have normal lives? I became angry. Angry at the doctors for putting us through so much suffering because of their mistake. Angry that I could no longer work when my career finally felt like it was taking off. Angry that we no longer felt comfortable going places, even questioning attending family events. Everything I thought my life would be was no longer a reality. I was angry with God and I was doubting my faith. How could someone who is supposed to be so loving create so much sadness and chaos in my life?
These thoughts were taking me captive and leading me down one of the darkest paths I've been on. I felt constantly numb and saw my life slowly spiraling before me. Then, at the recommendation of a good friend I read the book "The Miracle Equation" by Hal Elrod. The book is about how the author established and maintained unwavering faith while putting forth extraordinary effort to achieve his goals. This in turn helped him to overcome life threatening health challenges and near financial collapse. The one phrase that stands out to me the most from this book is "can't change it". This man had just experienced a near fatal car accident and doctors were telling him he would likely never walk again. Instead of feeling sorry for himself and letting negative thoughts overcome him, he chose the mantra "can't change it", accepting a circumstance he could not change and allowing himself to live in peace and be free from emotional pain.
This soon became my mantra as well when dealing with my daughters medical issues. When things seem difficult or overwhelming repeating this phrase helps to ground me. It's not always so simple though and I still felt a huge hole in my heart. Something in my life was still missing.
Enter another book recommendation from my friend. “Get Out of Your Head” by Jennie Allen. The author went through a long period of doubt after a frightening experience at a speaking engagement. She finally admitted her struggles to a group of close friends and they helped her to see that she has a choice. We all have a choice. We are not victims to our thoughts. You get the chance to interrupt the chaos and remind yourself that you are "no longer a slave" (Galatians 4:7). And when the shame creeps in from the past, remember "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Shifting thoughts is not easy. You have to make the choice to do so but once you do you feel so much peace and joy in your life. I continue to need constant reminders of this and it’s definitely not always easy. Good community, family support, and finding a good counselor have all been part of my journey towards healing. Admitting that you need help is the first step. Admit that you need God. He is the one who fought for you first.