two years ago today i was helping a friend host rush of fools at our church for a concert. the day had given no indication that anything unexpected would happen. i'd gone to work then headed to the church to help with set up. the show started and everyone was having a fun time. near the end of the set, i received a text from my parents asking for prayer; my niece was being taken to the hospital because she was having some trouble breathing. tori mae had been born just nine days prior. her mother, my sister, lived at home with my parents, so tori did too. i'd given her a kiss every morning for nine days and a kiss goodnight every evening for nine days. my other sister was with me at the church. we found each other, felt a bit shaken, but waited for any further news.
a phone call a bit later that evening revealed that things were really not going well, and tori was being life-flighted to a larger hospital in the area. i felt panic sweep over me as i heard a waver in my dad's voice. my sister and i told a few friends what was going on, and they prayed with us. we then set off for the hospital to meet my family. we got there, found my parents and their best friends who had driven them, along with tori's dad and his parents and together we frantically began to search for where tori and my sister had been taken upon their arrival.
we got to the picu to find a team working on little tori. after what felt like both a second and a thousand years' time, the doctor turned around to tell us that he was so sorry but there was nothing more they would be able to do. and just like that, our world changed forever.
we sat with the baby in the picu for hours, crying, weeping, in shock and disbelief. i have never felt such overwhelming emotion in my life before or since then. i then understood the word trauma. i felt so angry, angry at God that He would allow this to happen to our family. i felt an unbearable sadness by the loss we now faced. and i felt fear; i had no idea how we were going to make it through, what in the world would life be like, let alone the next day. we had lost a baby.
that night i experienced my first panic attack. i had a deep pain in my chest and my breathing became irregular. i was afraid i was going to die. i got so scared i actually slept in bed with my parents, while my mom rubbed my back to calm me down. i experienced another one the second night. and the third.
it was during this first week of grieving and mourning that fear wrapped its way around my life, imprisoning me. i became scared of dying, of pain, of losing someone else i loved. the pain that i went through was so horrific i became so afraid of having to go through it ever again. once is enough, Lord, i'd pray.
and in the last two years, i've lived in that fear. fear of the next bad thing. the next loss. the next death. my own death.
two months after tori, we lost my grandma to cancer. on december 31 john and i went to my grandma's wake, then got in the car and drove to new york. i was moving; i'd accepted a job offer and was starting that monday.
john and i had been praying for over six months that i would get a job so that i could move to where he lived and we could start our life together. i had counted it grace that i hadn't received one prior to tori, mercy that i was with my family when it all happened. but the timing of the move seemed all but. i missed my grandma's funeral. i was moving to western new york in the middle of winter. john was taking night classes. i was navigating life anew, in days and nights of seemingly endless snow. i was learning a new job, new coworkers, trying to make new friends, all while learning new roads. the move had been an answer to prayer, but looked nothing like i had expected. the whole uprooting took another toll on me. it demanded much of me, and i was weary. i turned inward, shut parts of myself off to others, embraced the coldness of winter in the depths of my own heart.
at the bottom of it all, i was afraid. everything was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. i was being stretched in every way and it hurt. i feared failure. i feared loneliness. and i was still battling the fear of death.
but i hope for this not to be a story about fear any longer. i do think part of casting out fear involves understanding where it has come from. i want to name aloud my fears and then lay them down before the feet of my Jesus, giving Him back my life, asking Him to free me from this prison.
this morning, i opened my bible to isaiah 12 where i found this verse:
surely God is my salvation;
i will trust and not be afraid.
the Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
God spoke right to my heart in these lines. i need to trust Him. and i must believe that He will save me. oh, how i want to know the power of His salvation, not only in the truth that i am going to heaven someday, but in my life this very day. i desire that he will become my salvation in the here and now.