How do you get through the things you can’t imagine getting through?
When Things Don’t Go According To Your Plans
Like most little girls growing up in the 1960’s, I dreamed of one day being a wife and a mom. I assumed I would also have a job — maybe a teacher, a ballerina or an archeologist — but always at the forefront, a wife and a mom. Those dreams did come true (not the part about being a ballerina or an archeologist), but not without some bumps along the way.
I didn’t date a lot in high school, maybe because my curfew was 9:00 p.m. on weekends. Then, I met a guy in the first few weeks of my Freshman year of college. We dated for about a year then got engaged at the beginning of my Sophomore year. By the second semester of my Senior year, we broke up and parted ways. It was embarrassing and difficult but it was the right thing. I wondered if I would ever find “the right one”.
The following summer, I started going out with someone from my hometown church. Within a couple of years, we were married and remain so today, some thirty-eight years later. There are so many reasons he was clearly the right choice, the one God had planned all along.
In the first few months of our marriage, my beloved grandfather died. We were very close so when his health began to fail, I wondered how I would survive without someone so important in my life. I was devastated when he died, but in the limousine driving to the cemetery, I tangibly felt the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit telling me “it’s going to be okay, I’m with you.”
About three years later, my second big dream came true. I found out I was pregnant with our first child. My husband and I were thrilled and so excited about becoming parents. We immediately told all of our friends and family. Everyone in our small church we had both grown up in shared our joy. We were on top of the world.
At the time, a girl in my Sunday School class was also expecting but she had a miscarriage. Then, someone else I knew had a miscarriage. I remember thinking, “God, I don’t think I could survive that, please spare me”.
Well, at ten weeks, my worst fears came true. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I was devastated. We both were. It wasn’t just losing that pregnancy but all the dreams of the little boy or girl who would be ours. It was especially difficult when the baby’s due date came. I mourned the loss for months, wondering if I would ever get to experience motherhood. It still remains one of the most painful things I have endured.
I found out I was pregnant again within days of my father-in-law’s death. He had battled Alzheimers for three or four years so it was a time of extreme emotions. We were so sad at Leon’s passing but elated by the promise of this new life — the first cousin in ten years.
Issues early on in the pregnancies with my son and then my daughter drove me to my knees in prayer. The peace of God that passes all understanding washed over me.
There have been many other times in my life I have wondered how I could endure.
- My mother-in-law’s death so soon after my father-in-law’s
- My husband’s cancer diagnosis when our children were in high school
- My children being in the path of the deadly tornado in Alabama in 2011
Empty Nest Fears
Quite possibly, a universal fear is that of losing a parent. When you live in an empty nest, it’s an underlying concern. While our children get older and leave the nest, we are also getting older and so are our parents.
I have been especially anxious about my parents since the onset of COVID in March of 2020. Neither of them were in the best of health so I was very concerned about them getting COVID. I wasn’t sure they would survive. I wasn’t sure I would survive them getting it. Thankfully, my anxiety level lessened once they were vaccinated and the number of cases decreased.
Then, what I dreaded most happened. Both of my parents contracted COVID right before Mother’s Day. My mother had a rough week but came through. My father ended up in the hospital for three weeks then came home under hospice care. After ten days, he slipped peacefully away into eternity.
I had an interesting thing happen during the month he was ill.
Once my parents were over COVID, my mom, husband and I visited my dad in the hospital. He seemed so uncomfortable, frail and confused. When I was home at night, I was so concerned about him being alone in the hospital. It made me sad.
Then, the Lord reminded me that he was not alone. Jesus promises that he will always be with us.
"I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 WEB
A Help For Anxiety
Sometimes, I struggle with anxiety when I am alone at night. This goes way back — my mom reminded me that I would make my little brother come and sleep on the loveseat outside my bedroom. I’m not sure how I thought an eight year-old boy could help me, but it brought me comfort.
Now, when I am anxious at night, I picture Jesus sitting in a chair in my room, quietly watching over me as I drift off to sleep.
That is what I did on the nights my dad was in the hospital. I imagined Jesus sitting there on the couch in his room, watching over him. That is a vision I specifically thought of. One night, though, I had another vision, one that was unbidden. I pictured Jesus getting up from the couch and walking over to my dad’s bedside. He brushed his hand across my dad’s brow then bent over to kiss him on the forehead. It was such a sweet gesture.
A couple of days before my father died, a close friend of the family came by for a visit. She spoke to my dad and prayed with him then visited with me and my mom for a while. Before she left, she went back to say goodbye to my dad. She leaned over and gently brushed her hand over his brow then kissed him on his forehead. My breath caught and I got goosebumps. It was just like my vision of Jesus and my dad, a sort of confirmation that He was with my dad.
The Key To Surviving The Most Difficult Times
We all go through difficult times that we think we will never survive. Anyone reading this right now could probably say “I don’t think I could get through (fill in the blank)”. I still have fears I don’t even want to say out loud, things I don’t think I could possibly endure.
But, the older I get, the more I realize that I can, we can, survive the most difficult circumstances when we lean on our Savior, the one who loves us so. He has promised over and over that he is always with us. We may never understand why we go through difficult times but we can trust His word and lean into Him.
My most recent difficult time was my dad’s bout with COVID and his death. But, I had a surprising peace through it all for two reasons. First of all, I knew that I had dear friends praying for my dad, for me and my family. I literally sensed their prayers. Secondly, I stopped trying to figure out the why’s and simply trusted that Jesus was with me and my dad — just as He said.
If you are going through one of those difficult times that you don’t think you can get through, please be encouraged. Jesus said he would walk with us through all of the difficult times in our lives. We may be pushed to our limits and it certainly won’t be enjoyable but we can take solace in knowing we are not alone. Reach out to friends who will pray with you and for you. Search for God’s promises in His word.
Life can be difficult but we have a God who loves us and wants to see us through to the other side.
How about you? Have you gone through something you didn’t think you could possibly go through? Perhaps you are on that road right now. What or who are you depending on to help you through?