July 12, 2016

desert season

The summer after I turned seventeen, I spent my days sprawled out on a wooden bench, wilting behind the glass of my treatment center's medical sauna. As I stared out at patients preparing for their own sessions, I watched the clock and wiped away the damage that 150 degrees can do. It was an ironic setting for a desert season.

While in the sauna, I was allowed a glass of water, some white towels in a stack, and a pair of clean socks. Any other possessions were to be left in a locker. Twice a day, I would give the nurses my glasses, hair ties, and sandals, but I would keep a small piece of paper and slip it into my pocket. It was a prescription folded over twice, wrapped in cellophane, and signed by the center's medical director.

The clinic had forbidden the use of any electronic devices: cell phones, walkie-talkies, smartwatches. After I had been there for several weeks, my doctor made an exception. I was the lone teenager loose in the building, his only pediatric patient, a kid in tremendous pain. Perhaps he knew I would need more than physical healing when he pulled out his prescription pad and put his approval in writing. I carried his note with me into the sauna and brought along an iPod so classic it didn't contain the warning light that shines when the device can no longer withstand the heat.

I wasn't sure I could withstand the heat.

God is with You in Your Desert Season was originally published on ReviveOurHearts.com. 

June 14, 2015

life lesson

It's what I wanted to say when pre-service teachers asked, wide-eyed, what it's like to student-teach in a hospital classroom 

That what you think will break your heart: the big things, the diagnosis described in an enrollment packet, a body showing signs of disease? That's not what will keep you up at night.

That will become background information. Because when you start to teach, you'll be sitting across from children, and that's how you'll see students: as people. And you'll probably forget for awhile that these kids, your kids, are living as patients.

It's the details that will get to you: tiny moments you'll want to scrub off before they get under your skin. You'll be able to look a terminal patient in the eye, not lingering over the frailness of her body, and laugh with her at Junie B. Jones, not thinking about how soon her story could end.

It will be a piece of paper that unnerves you.

You'll be staring at the hospital census, sliding a highlighter over names, and the lines of black font will blur together. It will become what hurts the most: the moment her name is missing from your clipboard, a gap on the page which grows inside you.

The rest of the semester, you'll hold your breath when the census is printed, until the final name is accounted for and familiar faces sit down at their desks and the world doesn't feel so fragile.

It's a cliche you'll hold in your hands: time here is short. A lesson that forces you to exhale:

Lord, teach me how to live.

Give me life according to Your word.
Give me life in Your ways.
Give me life according to Your promise

Lord, teach me how to live.

July 28, 2014

a hard pill to swallow

There are those who sit across from you in a restaurant booth and speak with such grace, you long for a way to keep all of their words with you, to carry them in your pocket and pass them out to others in need. Katelyn is one of those, and many months ago, she agreed to write down what God was teaching her through sickness. Her words have encouraged me so much, especially over the last few weeks; I am so grateful for her willingness to share them here.                                                  
~ post by Katelyn Britton  

As I look back over the past nine months of my first pregnancy, I recognize a few things about myself, about pain, and about the Lord that I hadn’t seen quite so clearly before. In His sovereign wisdom, He allowed me to experience pain like I never had before. Both relational breakdown and extended, intense morning sickness became instructive teachers. I know what it feels like to dwell in pain. But Christ, our comfort, is a very present help in time of need. There is one key, recurring maxim that I’ve learned and am yet learning is:

Life is in God’s control, not mine.

This is a hard pill to swallow, and it takes a daily dose of humility to accept what God may allow. However, it is a truth that must be embraced if one wants to live life well. I think that one of the most encouraging examples of this mindset is seen in the book of Genesis as it describes the life of Joseph. Not only do his brothers attempt to kill him and then sell him into slavery, but he is later falsely accused and thrown into prison! In the end, God exalted him to be in a high position of leadership. Though one might expect to see a bitter heart or a desire for revenge end of his life, instead we read in Genesis 50:19-21 that he said to his brothers (who were fearing for their lives):

“Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

In this passage, we find Joseph completely content to leave the details of his life in the kind hands of his Father. This includes the pain (past, present and future)!  How easy it is to think that if God really loves us then He will certainly spare us from ever needing to endure hard things in life. The often quoted “God doesn’t want our happiness but our holiness” is true in a sense, but I think the better phrase might be, “God wants our holiness to bring about our happiness.” Joseph’s life, though riddled with pain, is one that proclaims the message that God is faithful and good through it all. May we follow Christ through the thorns of life with joy and recognize that they are neither pointless nor unfruitful if we trust the Father to use them!

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)