I asked my friend, Beth Johnson, to share her story with us. I have watched Beth go through devastating circumstances and her strength and faith have moved me in so many ways. I love Beth…and I know you will too!
This past Sunday was unusually cool for early September, and we were unable to attend church due to my recovering from eye surgery and my son with a stomach virus. When I felt the inviting cool air I mentioned to my husband I would like to take a walk, and with a silent but understanding current passing between us he encouraged me to do so. So with nearly blind eyes, all covered with protective goggles and topped with awkward sunglasses he helped me find worship music on Pandora on my phone and I set out to walk our circle drive for some alone time.
Time alone or “me time” is very rare, and as my soul began to absorb the worship, and my skin the much needed sunshine, my tears began to fall. How had I sunk so far into depression so quickly? I have struggled with it on and off for years and of course I knew the answer for this latest episode and anyone that knows me would know the answer as well. But this year of all years I should be full of thankfulness and abundant joy. And thankful I truly am, but somehow I find myself completely empty, void of joy and to the point I was fearful for where I felt mentally and physically.
To make a long story short and one that I will save for another time, my eight-year-old son underwent lifesaving brain surgery this past April 1st, 2014. For years we had watched him decline, and then for two long weeks we watched not knowing if we would ever be able to take him home, or if God would call him to his eternal home. But God miraculously saved him and he is thriving.
I am sobbing by now, “Please feel my thankfulness.” I pray to my heavenly father. Even though I am empty I am so thankful. I will never forget what a miraculous healing God is doing in my son. I am humbled that he heard this mother’s cries for her son’s life. Months of much needed tears burst forth and in my currently near blind state and my gift for coordination I stumbled on a rock and nearly fell. Not a pretty picture I assure you. I had to laugh through my tears and was thankful we live out in the country where no one could see my current condition. Hot pink t-shirt, yoga shorts, layers of protective eye gear and hair that had not been touched for days. And then the symbolism hits me, just as the rock I nearly fell on. How had I come to this dark place so quickly? Surrender and Trusting. If there has been one thing I feel God has been trying to change in me for the past 9 years of my life, it would be surrender and trust. I am a Blood Type A, OCD, and schedule everything. But it is the only way I can keep up with the demands life has given me. But in this, I know I have to lean on him, surrender my will and ideals, and trust that with his strength I can carry the loads I have been given. And foremost to trust he still loves me and sees where I am and what I need. I continued to cry and prayed for forgiveness for continuously plunging ahead thinking I could work full time, take care of a recovering disabled child, keep up with a teenage daughter and be an attentive wife as well as keep up with laundry and meals, all without his help. All without taking the needed time alone with him and for time I need for me. I’ve been a Christian since childhood, I know how to answer well-meaning people who say “I don’t know how you do it” to which I smile and say “All with God’s help,” but it’s so easy to say and yet I have never learned to surrender and truly accept that help. Especially when that “help” might mean stopping and doing nothing or taking time for myself.
“Bless the Lord Oh My Soul” came on Pandora and I tried to sing through my abundance of tears, entering into deep worship before the throne of God. And as my heart surrenders I tell my heavenly father, “I am done, I am empty, and I can’t see hope. I can’t keep going like this.” I had scared my husband and myself with the words I had spoken just the day before, “The week after surgery when I was all drugged up on pain pills and slept for a week was like heaven to me.” I had prepared ahead easy menus, my sweet and helpful mother-in-law was helping with the kids, and all I had to do was sleep. And as I had to come off all that medication and got back to life, the terrifying realization hit me; I didn’t want to do anything but sleep, to hide, to not have to feel or take care of anyone.
Now that sounds like a strong Christian woman whose son had been miraculously healed only five months earlier doesn’t it? But the truth is, although God is healing my son’s seizures, unless God has other plans and more intense healings Zane will always be disabled and have Hemi Plegia Cerebral Palsy. The daily struggles of feedings, behavior issues, health issues, lack of sleep, school nightmares all while having to play these many roles was not going to change. And please do not get me wrong, I love my children, my son is a rare gift God chose to bless me with, I child I begged God for and prayed into this world. But unless you have a child with special needs, there is no way you can possibly realize the work, the extreme stress and tears that go into raising these precious gifts. So I continue to pray and cry out for help as I walk and look around at my dream home and lovely yard my husband built for me seven years ago. Seven years ago that I jumped ahead of God’s will and talked my husband into building this house that we would struggle to keep for years to come. More tears come as I again repent of my charging ahead and being led by my emotions. God had revealed to me years back as I prayed through a financial struggle that I had used the building of this beloved house to try and comfort and heal the pain and disappointment of having a disabled child. I am not proud of the huge mistakes I make, but I know he has forgiven me. But regardless, when you get out of God’s will or rush it too soon; there will be consequences. My consequence is to work full time. This all happened before I knew Zane would face such terrible health issues and I would struggle to work and keep up physically and mentally. But God knew what was to come, and I often wonder how changed life might be if I had not blindly jumped and had waited for His timing.
In my praying I began to plead for help. “Give me more energy, strength, healing to my body so I can get out of bed every day and be a good wife and mother knowing the struggles I will face.” Just then the song “Mighty to Save” came on and the specific line, “Savior he can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save” came on. And almost audibly the Lord spoke to me, “Beth ask big!” And I just stopped and wept the deepest, most healing tears. Again he whispered, “Ask big Beth.” And the most beautiful peace came over me. This God, my heavenly father who loves me though I jump ahead of his plans more than naught, was urging me to ask him for bigger things. I nearly dropped to my knees. “How can I ask you for more than I already have? I have a beautiful home you have provided for us to keep, a loving husband, beautiful daughter and you are healing my son and restoring him to me. I do not dare ask for more.” My heart whispers in return. What an unworthy child I felt like, getting in over my head and then crying for help and waiting until I could go no more until I surrendered all to him. The word “Trust” pressed on my heart strongly. So I began to worship, walking with vigor, in humble awe that my savior could love me so much and want to give me more than I could even think of asking for. And so in trusting him, I did, I asked. I asked “Big”.
When I came back inside the house with red swollen eyes my husband said, “Your better!” And I smiled, “Yes, I am.”
Ephesians 3:20 (KJV) says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his purpose that is at work ,within us.”
I encourage you, do not let your feelings of inadequacy keep you from feeling like you are a child of the ALL MIGHTY GOD, and I encourage you to ASK BIG!