I have been wanting to share this story on my blog for a while. I shared a little on my facebook page, but nothing here.
A couple of months ago, a dear friend of mine, Shawn, was stricken with an infection that left her fighting for her life. Shawn and I used to teach together, and I roomed with her younger sister when I was in college.
The doctors didn’t think Shawn would live, but she miraculously did. Unfortunately, there was severe damage to her hands and feet, and they had to be amputated.
You can read more about her story HERE.
Shawn is an amazing person and amazing teacher. She was teacher of the year and the district’s top elementary-school teacher in 2012. Last year, she was a finalist for the statewide teacher of the year award.
But more than that, Shawn is an amazing Christian and the wonderful wife and mother to three beautiful daughters.
I love this picture of Shawn with two of her daughters.
I think what astounded me the most during this difficult time was watching the faith of her family. Especially her daughters.
Her daughter, Delaney, (in the green dress above) is only 20 years old and sophomore in college. She would write updates on her facebook page that left me in tears and strengthened my faith.
Here is one that I wanted to share with you that she wrote after mom’s hands and feet were removed. Delaney is taking the semester off to help care for her mom.
Maybe you are going through a difficult time that you just can’t understand WHY. May you find strength and comfort in Delaney’s words.
Yesterday my dad asked me if I felt like I was missing out on Nashville, being home for the semester. I felt guilty but my answer was yes. I have a wonderful school and incredible friends there and that world doesn’t stop turning just because I’m not around.
And being home can be hard.
It’s hard to see my mom go through this. It’s hard not knowing how to help. It’s hard not to curl up and hide away and cry and throw fits and ask Jesus why this happened to her, why this couldn’t just be another normal year, why, why, why.
I have felt and seen sacrifice and loss this semester in ways that I have never faced before. Kelsey, my oldest sister, has flown back and forth from California three times so far. She is working eighty hours a week to make money to help the family and to be able to afford the trips back and forth. Lindsey is working two jobs, one in Cincinnati, one in Lexington, and taking notes from nurses at the hospital whenever she’s not busy (we all want her to go to nursing school. She’s a natural!)
My dad spends every single afternoon and evening being my mom’s hands and feet, bringing her favorite foods, washing her hair, helping her get in and out of bed, brushing her teeth, surfing the channels to find her favorite shows. He stays there until he’s sure she’s asleep, no matter how late that is.
And then there’s my mom, a warrior like I’ve never seen before. She is legitimately unbelievable. She has now lost both legs below the knee, her right hand, and her left fingers, yet she has the best attitude of anyone I know-healthy or sick. She is cracking jokes and keeping things light while simultaneously working herself to exhaustion to gain strength and skills back. She has made so much progress so quickly.
She is an inspiration to anyone who walks into her room, or reads her story or even sees her picture. Her eyes sparkle and she glows. Like, not even metaphorically. It’s the best example I’ve seen of Jesus shining straight through someone.
I will admit though that there has been this unspoken sense of loss, for her hands and feet obviously, but also for a stage of life that has passed away. We are all aware that things will never be the way that they were. This will be a long road, one that’s really hard for everyone in one way or another.
Throughout this season, there have been so many things that were hard to comprehend, hard to stomach even.
The day my mom had her last surgery, I prayed and told Jesus I didn’t understand. It didn’t make sense.
Since then he’s been asking me if I really thought about what I was saying when I told people I had given my life to Christ. Given my LIFE to him.
He’s asked me if I’m going to count the cost of following him and follow him anyways.
People don’t like to tell you that following Jesus is expensive, which is funny because Jesus wasn’t shy about telling people.
When Jesus called followers in the bible, it says they left EVERYTHING and followed him. Everything. When a man asked if he could wait until he buried his father, Jesus said no! Jesus wanted us to understand this.
Following him means leaving everything behind-our possessions, our understandings, our preferences, our expectations of how life should be.
A life with Jesus is a life of risk. A life with Jesus is a life of trusting beyond our understanding, trusting so much that we look foolish to someone who still leans on their own worldly understanding, trusting him with our future, our family, our hands, our feet.
A life with Jesus is a life of sacrifice. A life of constantly laying down everything we have. BUT when we rid ourselves of the things of this world Jesus has so much freedom to FILL US UP-with purpose, joy, hope, faith, love, and life! He lavishes our hearts when they are fully in his possession.
I am learning that “Why?” is the least important question. We should be asking
“What”- what beauty are you going to bring from these ashes?
“Who”- who are you going to reach through this?
“Where”- where are you leading us next?”
These are the questions He loves to answer, often by showing us rather than telling us.
And those answers are what fill our hearts even when we feel we’ve poured out everything in us.
So, no. I still don’t understand why all of this happened.
And yes, I will count the cost of following Jesus and follow Him anyways.
When I don’t understand why, when I feel like I have nothing left, I will follow Him still- to the what’s, the who’s, and the where’s.