Each hallway in life brings a new level of transformation and helps us trust that God is in control. This is the place where we learn to totally let go of doing things our own way because even in our blindness we know His ways and purpose is much higher than ours.
Thanksgiving Day 2018 has arrived and I was feeling excited because my daughters were in town. Even though they decided to be with their father, Pat, for the holiday since he lives alone, thankfully I will still get to see them often. Upon arrival to my mother’s house, I received a phone call from my oldest daughter. She told me that her dad was drooling and couldn’t speak; they had just sat at the table ready to eat dinner. I immediately told her to call the ambulance, but he insisted that she drive him to the hospital (it was a good thing that the hospital was five minutes away.) I had just walked into a house full of people and warm food ready to begin a Thanksgiving dinner. But like many times before, it was abruptly interrupted by Pat’s sudden illness. Immediately, the doctors knew he had a stroke and rushed him to the emergency and got him a room. Within a thirty minute period, he was unable to speak and barely walking. I arrived soon after and Pat gave me the look that spoke volumes. It was like,”Here we go again.” It broke my heart because he has been through at least five life-threatening situations before. It’s like a weird nostalgia where life goes on and then suddenly it comes to a halt. It feels like life is frozen at that moment in time and nothing else matters except to be present and truly listen to what is happening. It’s then that all that matters is love and support at the deepest level. Honestly, nothing else matters in the world than being present.
Since then, Pat has had two more brain surgeries which has kept him in the hospital for weeks at a time and has taken months to recover. Meningitis followed his last brain surgery which damaged a quarter of his scull. This brought him to deaths door, but God intervened and spared his life. The doctors gave him an artificial scull and he eventually healed from that downfall. Seizures became a commonplace for him and that was scary because we never knew when they would occur again; they have become weekly episodes. Unfortunately, Pat also started having heart problems and because of it had to have surgery to correct his heart rate. It was beating twice as a normal heart rate which left him bedridden and exhausted most of the time.
After years of illness interruptions, he finally decided to retire from his office job. That was no doubt the best decision he could’ve made at the time. But the biggest blow for me was that one day he came to me and told me that he wanted to get an apartment, essentially to live alone. I was devastated. For two years prior, he kept telling me that he wanted to live alone, that he was better off alone. I never thought that he would actually do it, but two weeks after he told me, he left—just like that! With no time to process, I was alone with the girls. I thought, “How could he do this to us? We have been by his side the whole time.”
I remember asking God what I should do at that time of uncertainty, and I will never forget what He told me. He spoke to my heart and said to love him (Pat) anyway, and to keep my heart from getting bitter. So I began to pray for him and I began to really feel compassion for everything that he has been through, even though he walked away from me and the girls. I had no idea what God was doing in this situation, I just knew that I couldn’t stay angry at him. He was gone for a year when I finally had the nerve to tell him that, if he wasn’t going to return, we should get divorced. He told me that he was not ready to come back, so I followed through and filed. It was so devastating to actually go through the process of divorce. I never thought in a million years that I would experience this level of pain. For a long while after the divorce, we have not really spoken. I believe it left us both broken and hurt, and we left it at that. I prayed for God to help me to forgive him for the divorce and how that process went, but I’m not quite sure if I really did. I just wanted to move on with my life at that point.
Once the church family knew that we got divorced, they had distanced themselves from us. I am talking about friends that we have had for years have that completely cut themselves off from us. It hurt both me and Pat deeply. We didn’t understand because we truly needed our friends the most at that time, but we were left alone and decided to move on to different churches where no one knew about our past.
God has used Pat’s illness to grow me personally and reveal himself to me in such a way that I no longer freak out when life-threatening situations happen. I just know that these life interruptions (especially the most recent) has happened with good reason. I brace myself and know that God is in total control. The road of uncertainty is one my daughters and Pat and I, of course, are familiar with. It has been twenty years to the month now since Pat was diagnosed with stage four cancer. God has spared his life; however, since then he has been partially disabled. Our lives as a family have completely shifted and have been turned upside down. We’ve never been the same since he was first diagnosed.
It still makes me sad when I think about that. These are all unexpected situations in life that can happen where you have no idea of the outcome. All I can say is in that space of not knowing is where God shined His light on me the most and showed me the way, as long as I kept my eye on Him. And so here we are—me and Pat—reunited again in the spirit of forgiveness and God’s love. Since his first stroke on Thanksgiving Day, he almost fully recovered in his speech and his mobility. Unfortunately, things took another turn on Christmas Eve when he experienced a second stroke where he became unable to speak again. I do visit him on a regular basis, but I thank God that He has brought us full circle to bring healing from our hurt.
I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that God is holding it and that He is my anchor. It’s a promise from God that no one can take away from me. God’s pure love and reassurance that He will never leave me, or forsake me. God’s faithfulness is so real to me and that’s what keeps my head up; no man can ever give me the assurance that God gives. Life is full of uncertainty, but life with God is certainly full of hope.
We all go through seasons of suffering, uncertainty, loneliness, scarcity and often times they bring us fear or worry and added stress. In addition, we have happy moments and seasons of peace and joy which are moments to cherish forever and to be very grateful for. Life has so many ups and downs indeed and as we get older we realize that seasons don’t last forever. We keep moving into a new season. But this is the hall way of life, it’s where we grow.
So what is God really showing us in this world of constant change and uncertainty? My personal experience in life has given me the answers that I needed to to endure the the difficult times and good times as well. I can honestly say that I have had my share of pain and suffering in life. When I was younger, like anyone else, I did everything I could to run from suffering—I did not want to feel pain at all. I just wanted to feel safe and I would ask God to please take make the pain quickly go away. I never realized that at the time God had a plan for every suffering and that their was room for growth and character to be built during these times. Now, I realize that God had a purpose in every part of my life, whether it be through suffering or through happiness.
One of the key principles that God has shown me throughout my journeys is that we are all spiritually connected as human beings. We affect one another through love or pain, and when God is doing a mighty work in our lives, He is also dealing with those around us to bring healing in areas of our lives that are needed. I have so many amazing stories to share how God used my hallway experiences to draw others to a healing process. I believe we have all made the mistake of begging God to remove the pain quickly so we can move on with our lives, but we can also miss out on what we are supposed to learn in the process. This is the place I call the hallway experience. It’s where you can’t see what’s right in front of you, but in the hallway is where God is speaking the loudest and where we can listen and