Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Asking 'What If'

Asking "What If?" -- It's not a bad thing to want to have a handle on the situation, but sometimes you can't. That's when you need to choose between faith and fear.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
My baby boy went in to Boston Children's Hospital yesterday for his first (and hopefully only) surgery.

It was a straightforward procedure. It took about 3.5 hours and things went even better than expected.

He's been through a lot, but being a resilient little guy he's bounced back from every challenge.

I wish I could use the phrase "bounced back" to describe me. Every one of his scares and setbacks has aged me about a decade.

I felt like I was 100 years old by the time I finally left Children's with him yesterday.

The surgery waiting area at Children's is really big. There were probably 20 of us wandering around, staring out the window, getting Snickers from the vending machine and checking our phones to see what time it was, wondering how much longer.

Although nobody spoke to each other much, we we all knew whose child was having what. There's no privacy when you're fielding phone call after phone call on the status of your kid in surgery. So I knew we were lucky.

My son was only there for day surgery, and I'd be sleeping in my own bed tonight with him at my bedside (heavily medicated, but still at my side.) The couple next to me were camped out with blankets and pillows waiting for their child's 14-hour brain surgery to be over, and that was only the beginning of a long hospitalization.

Other parents were there knowing that this was only one of many surgeries their child was going to have to endure. Maybe some paced the room with the heavy probability that their child wasn't going to make it through this surgery at all.

Relatively speaking, my son and I had it easy. It was an afternoon of surgery and then we got to go home. The possibility of complications, especially life-threatening ones, was small.

Still, I had a hard time feeling peace that day. It wasn't the worst day anyone has ever lived through, but it was one of the hardest days I'd ever had.

During that time in the waiting room, I kept running over the "what if"s in my mind. I brought a stack of Christmas card envelopes to address while I waited, but I couldn't focus long enough to write out a single one of them. What if my son needs follow-up surgeries? What if there are complications? What if, what if, what if.

In moments like this I realize that faith is the opposite of fear.

Anyway, in the past, I never understood it when people said that. I understood that faith and fear vaguely opposed each other somehow, but it didn't quite make sense to me.

It seemed kind of like this game my kids used to play, where they would pick a random word and try to find its opposite: "Hole is the opposite of mountain," "Bird is the opposite of fish," "Fear is the opposite of faith." Close, but not exactly.

There must be something to this whole getting older and accumulating life experience thing, because now I'm starting to get why faith and fear are opposites.

Fear is anxiety over the unknown. If I believe I'm the one in charge of my life, then I have to know what's going to happen to me and I have to know if I'm going to be able to handle it. If I don't know what's coming then I don't know if I can hack it.

I'm a control freak. I know how to do fear. And it feels really bad.

Faith is having confidence that God is in charge. It's knowing that whatever road lies ahead of me is the one that's best for me. No matter what happens, even in the worst of all possible scenarios, God has the power to turn it into an opportunity for growth and goodness.

I don't think it's bad to want to have a handle on the situation, but sometimes you can't. That's when you need to choose between faith and fear.

One important caveat: being faithful doesn't mean you'll sail through all your troubles with a smile on your face the whole time. Faithful people can still feel pain. They can still be sad and stressed. It can still seem like a long, hard road.

It seemed like I spent years in the waiting room half-listening to reruns of Dog with a Blog on the Disney Channel in the background. I felt like I was trying to prop my eyes open with toothpicks on the drive home. When my son and I came in the door, Phillip took one look at the raggedy pair of us and said "I can't tell who looks worse, him or you." 

I think it's possible for a person to have faith but still feel totally worn out. It's draining to know that someone you love is going through something difficult or painful. 

But worn out is different than carrying the weight of every what if on your shoulders. It's better than being afraid.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love this! I was recently discussing the barrage of laws and regulations imposed that have been created to protect kids. Everyone was wondering if the world is that much more dangerous that all this is necessary now. I told them that people are ruled by fear and have put faith in laws to protect their kids instead of putting faith in God where it should be.