I think he was right. For better or worse, the events that shape and mold us the most are often the ones that sneak up on us.
This week, life happened. I’ll try to keep things brief.
My wife was sick over the weekend. Like, sicker than she’s ever been. But Monday, she was much worse. And Tuesday, she was worse still. We were up all night, the both of us. And when we went to our doctor and they could not get a blood pressure reading, we knew we were in trouble.
Now, I sit here next to my wife in her hospital bed. She was so dehydrated when I brought her that her blood looked like syrup. It took an hour of repeated sticking to get any blood to drip. But her body is distended with excess fluid. She is extremely painful and anxious. And as for me, I watch helplessly. I bring her things she needs but I don’t feel like much help.
And this is all related to our journey to becoming parents, the awful side effect of fertility treatments. Yes, there is a steep price to pay for some of us. You know the risks when you read the fine print, but you don’t really count on it. Our doctor says she is only her second patient in eight years to react this severely.
Yes, we covet your prayers. But even in this midst of this, something else is happening. Something to be thankful for.
What did John Lennon mean when he said that line about life happening when you are busy making plans?
He meant that we have to leave ourselves open for the unexpected. We have to leave room in the margins. This is because not just some life events, but some of our most important life events will come unexpectedly.
My wife is an amazingly strong woman, even though she does not think she is. And earlier this week, she told me how she has never been chronically ill. But this event is actually adding something to her – more empathy and compassion for sick people. You don’t always have to go through something to have empathy for others. But it helps sometimes.
That is the thing about life events, even the tragic or painful ones. If only we are yielded, there is always fruit that is added to us. We have seen people absolutely broken and crushed, or become absolutely bitter about what life does to them. And then we have seen others who have seen terrible times, and yet they seem to have been given something: an amazing testimony of the work of grace in their lives.
Our path through infertility has not just kept something from us (a child), but added many things to us. We could choose to let things break us. We could let struggles drive us apart and crush our marriage. But we choose hope. We choose joy. We choose redemption. We choose to believe that when we are broken, it is so we can be rebuilt. I want a testimony of grace and redemption, whatever our temporary circumstances.
And that is reason to be thankful.
Right now, Thanksgiving is an optimistic time frame for us to get out of this hospital room where I sit typing these words. I look out the window and see the streets starting to freeze. I hear the beeping of the machines in the room. So I’ll be taking next week off (I’m sure you will too.) I will rest in thankfulness, be it in my own living room, or in the hospital cafeteria. We truly do have much for which to be thankful. I hope you do too.