Choose love. Persevere. Find Strength. Give Hope.
The other day I went to visit a friend at the hospital. While I had visited the hospital system where I had been overdosed by a nurse just under 6 years ago, I had not yet returned to the actual hospital where that life changing event had occurred. Almost daily I drive by that building and it looms over me like a monster. Its jagged walls cut into my heart every time I look at the floors – the windows – the room and I remember. It stands as a monument of what was, and now what is. Though I’ve worked so hard to rebuild and move forward, it has continually been a living monument of the day that everything changed; the day my kids mom died and this new mom was birthed; the day we had to start over and find a way to live again. So, when I decided I needed to go and visit my friend, even though she was in that living monument of horror, I wasn’t sure what it would be like. Though I convinced myself it was going to be just fine — I was going to Choose love. Persevere. Find Strength. Give Hope. — I knew in reality, it was going to be a far more difficult than I could get my head around.
As I drove towards the hospital and didn’t make turn I normally do to avoid it, my heart instantly began to pound harder and louder. My hands became slippery on the steering wheel and my mouth instantly became dry. I couldn’t catch or slow my breathing. I circled the parking lot several times. My mind was racing and though there were several parking spots I couldn’t settle on one. I just kept on driving past them again and again. Finally, I parked, albeit very crooked, and rested my head on the steering wheel. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my chest grew tighter. How could it be after almost 6 years I’m still so gripped with irrational fear. I felt utterly undone and afraid. I sat in my car trembling – unable to even pray. PTSD – no matter the cause is real, disabling and will bring the strongest of people to their knees.
Finally I found some gumption and wiped my tears away. My friend was waiting and I was determined to see her. As I walked into the hospital the smell churned my stomach and sent me running to the nearest restroom. As a heaved over the toilet I found myself wondering if I was going to make it up to my friend’s room. If the smell of the hospital could undo me what would the patients floor do? As I sat and sobbed on the floor I wondered if I’m just forever too broken now to be a real friend? I even thought a good stiff drink might ease the pain a bit. Instead, I went to the gift shop, bought a tooth-brush for me and gift for my friend. If my recovery from my brain injury taught me anything — dulling the pain doesn’t help. Pushing through and persevering through is the beginning of freedom.
I headed to the elevators and thankfully I found one that was empty. On the way up, my knees buckled a little so I held on tight. My forehead was wet with sweat — I wasn’t glistening like a lady – I was sweating like a pig. It was gross and awful. I was a mess. Once off the elevators I sat down on a couch. I just had to breathe. I was on the floor where I almost died; where I screamed for the nurse to stop pushing the drug that was killing me and she didn’t listen. My mind was flooded with the sounds of that horrible day. Flashbacks – profound – loud – overwhelming. Again and again they came.
Jesus. Help. Me.
Finally, quiet came.
As I walked into the very room where I was overdosed I was rattled and undone yet, there was quiet strength growing within me. I had just climbed an emotional mountain I so needed to climb. By walking into that dreaded building and sticking through the horrible flood of feelings — I faced the monster that had loomed over me head on — walked straight into its mouth and right into its belly and came out standing. As I leaned over and embraced my friend I knew where there had once been evil – there was now love.
Choosing love – in spite of pain – opens the door for grace, mercy, understanding, hope, healing and restoration. Choosing love often requires far more strength and sacrifice than you can imagine but the fruit it bears is always good.
Choose love! Persevere! Find Strength! Give Hope!
Life is not always easy. It is filled with struggles, painful heart-break and towering monsters we have to overcome. I’m learning to face those monsters instead of avoiding them. I’m learning to trust God’s plans instead of my own. As I’m learning these things, I’m discovering a new strength and hope for the future. I never dreamed after such heartache my life could ever be full again. It isn’t perfect, but it is indeed full, and for that I am so very grateful!
1 Peter 5:10
10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.