Today was a long and wonderful day, filled with several different emotions. Thankfully, we were able to sleep well last night, so we woke up refreshed. The Neurosurgeon came by early and showed me the results of the MRI, which were fantastic. It was a great way to start our day. We both felt very encouraged that this has given us a completely different outlook. We are still on a difficult path, but we are praising God for the miracle of a successful surgery. The kids arrived and Clay was so happy to see them. He was on morphine, so he got pretty loopy for a while. We laughed so hard at him trying to tell us stories and things that “happened” last night. It’s a good thing I haven’t left his side because we would really be wondering about what sorts of things go on at MD Anderson if we had to believe his stories! The doctors assure us that this will all wear off in a few more days and we’ll be back to normal. They also tell us that he will feel much better than he felt prior to the diagnosis, considering the release of fluid pressure and the steroids.
We have had a long few days at this hospital. You can imagine. We weren’t prepared for surgery and we are still processing the fact that we are in this situation, at all. So, the normal tendency for a person in Clay’s situation would be for them to feel frustration, loss of patience, maybe even anger. I have been so honored to be by Clay’s side during this time. Even under the influence of steroids, which normally make people highly irritable, he has been the sweetest thing. He has thanked every nurse or doctor that has helped him. Rather than being irritated by all the poking and sticking and interrupting, he has been so thankful and helpful to the staff. He asks each one to tell him their names and he honestly tries to remember. Last night, our nurse had to accompany us to the MRI. So, we had lots of time to talk. She was telling us her story and she mentioned that she was in the military. Right away, Clay said, “Thank you for your service. Really. I want to make sure you know how much I appreciate it.” She just replied sweetly with a thank you. Late this afternoon, she came back to the room and he, apparently, had forgotten that we had that conversation. She mentioned being in the military and I reminded him that she told us last night. He said, “Oh. I’m sorry I don’t remember talking about that, but did I thank you for your service?” Of course, he had.
He has had an abundance of patience. We waited for our MRI last night for over an hour. He was uncomfortable and nervous about doing it, again, but he just waited so patiently. He smiled at the staff every time they came near. I really can’t remember a time that he complained through this entire ordeal. He has thanked me so many times. He tells all the nurses how wonderful I am and he constantly asks me if I’m doing ok. “How are you handling all this? Are you ok emotionally?” He asks me regularly how the kids are doing….how I REALLY think the kids are doing. He is asking about people at home who we know are sick and dealing with situations. Tonight I was getting him settled in the bed and he asked me to leave his arm uncovered so it would be easy for the nurse to get to him when she comes to give him medicine.
Now, I’m not trying to paint a perfect picture of my husband. He is human and he has a flesh that he battles, just like all of us. And, I’ll be the first to tell you that he definitely battles his flesh on normal occasions. God started dealing with his heart immediately when we got this diagnosis. There has been much repentance and confession to the Lord. (I’ll save that for a later blog post that he will have to co-author because I really want him to share the things the Lord is doing in him. But that’s his story to tell.) So, he is not perfect. But what I’m so amazed at, is how the Holy Spirit is producing the fruits of the Spirit in him while he walks in surrender to the Lord. You all know the fruits of the Spirit, explained in Galatians 5:16-25
“16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Walking in the Spirit produces Love, which produces all these other fruits. As Clay has been pressed into this difficult time, the love of God is coming out of him. His love for Jesus is so evident. My dad was here with us early this morning and Clay was sitting up in the chair. It got quiet for a minute and he just started talking about how much he loves the Lord. He said, “How do people go through something like this without Jesus? He is so good to us. I love Him with all my heart. He is sustaining me right now.” He was encouraging himself in the Lord and it was neat to see. His love for God is now producing all the fruits he needs in order to honor God in his time of trial. He is patient (this is probably the biggest miracle because he struggles with this normally.) He is joyful and at total peace. He has been exceedingly gentle. Always smiling at the staff and trying to help them as they help him. He is soft spoken and sweet. He has been kind and full of goodness. It really is a miracle to watch this happen. Clay accepted the path God chose for him, and God has given him the grace to walk it out. The staff have been so complimentary of him and it has made my job a lot more pleasant. I’ve always told him I would take care of him in sickness, I just never knew it would be this enjoyable.
An old family friend came to visit today and it brought back a lot of good memories from Clay’s childhood. He talked about how he has thought of all those friends and those good times of his childhood and young adult years. He was so touched by the visit. If you don’t know this already, it might be a shock, but Clay is normally a loner. He loves that his office is private, he would prefer to be with just me than anyone else, he likes to eat alone, he doesn’t really like crowds, and he has never needed attention. God has used this experience to give him a renewed love for the body of Christ. The visits and the time he has spent with people has encouraged him so much. He told his friend today that it is making a tremendous difference in his strength to walk through this. We both have a full appreciation for our need for the body of Christ….for the encouragement of others.
He was getting tired so everyone left and we came back to the room to take a nap. When he woke up, he was disoriented (side effect of the meds) and he started to get a little panicked. The wrap on his head was very tight and starting to make him feel claustrophobic. I immediately started praying with him and trying to help him work through it. Right at that moment, our Pastor called us. It was great timing because Clay was starting to feel very emotional. Pastor Lee just reminded us that God desires to comfort us in our grief. Grief is normal and it is ok. Feeling grief does not mean that we are being unfaithful to God or that we are sinning. God wants to comfort us, so it’s ok to feel some grief. As he was saying those words, I was imagining how much I love to comfort my children. When one of them has gotten disappointed or their feelings are hurt, I absolutely LOVE to be able to hug them and console them. Of course, I don’t want them to hurt, but if they have to hurt, I want to be the one to love them through it. That’s how God feels toward us. He longs to comfort us. We can feel grief and be sad for a moment, as long as we bring it to him. That’s exactly what we did. We just prayed together, with Pastor Lee, and thanked God for all he’s done, but let him know that we are grieving and we need to feel his arms of love. Of course, He came immediately and comforted us.
While we were on the phone with Pastor Lee, the nurse came and removed the head wrap. This was a big moment. Clay was nervous about what it would look like and how it would feel. The scar is much better than I anticipated. It is a large semi-circle on the right side of his head. Since he was already mostly bald, we don’t have to mourn the loss of any hair. He was nervous to see it, so I just described it to him and reassured him that it is so much better than he thinks. Finally, after a while, he looked. Clay is not a vain person, so he does not care about the looks. He is already prepared for the fact that people are going to stare at it. He’s fine with that. I think it just made everything feel so real. As long as it was covered, we could pretend this isn’t really happening. Now that the scar is exposed, the reality began to sink in. So, we cried. And, guess what? It was fine. After a while, we started to remember the great things God has done and we started to talk about all of you. We reminded ourselves that God is receiving great glory and honor from this testimony and that we have been confident from the beginning that this is His will. The Holy Spirit comforted us and we settled down for the night.
Clay is sleeping now. He is resting well. The scar won’t get covered up again. It will be visible for all to see. And every time I look at it I’m going to hear Grace in my mind saying, “That’s ok. It will just be a reminder to us of all that God has done.” Amen.
If you are walking through a difficult situation tonight, please be reminded that God is near to the brokenhearted. He loves you and is waiting to comfort you. Get that picture of a loving father just waiting for his child to run to his arms for comfort in a time of disappointment or need. If you will look to Him, He will comfort you. And, it’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to cry. We don’t have to always be strong. We can be human and let Jesus pick up the pieces of our hearts. This is when we truly learn to let Him live through us.
Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Amen. Let Him bind your wounds tonight.