Guest post by Betts Keating
I truly believe there are moments when God chooses to intervene. Sometimes, it can happen through a gentle whisper. Sometimes, it is more like a wrecking ball. I’m more familiar with the wrecking ball.
I would call my life before the…interruption…pretty close to utopia. I was living in New York City, working in my dream job, married to the love of my life, and healthy in a way that is annoying to most people. As a former college athlete, I could do almost anything I wanted. I was happy, really happy.
Although we’d put our plans for children on hold so my husband could attend a graduate program, he had only completed one semester before we discovered we were pregnant. So began our unique adventure.
During my labor and delivery, my body and my baby did not work in sync. After hours…and hours…in the delivery room, nature took over and saved us both. But this salvation was coupled with severe injury—a separated pelvis. I was put on immediate bed rest for six months and I didn’t walk normally for two years. I couldn’t care for my baby, I couldn’t work, and my husband was in grad school…yes, it was ugly. I went from being a college athlete to riding the bench, permanently.
That was my first journey into motherhood. My second was equally challenging. I will never forget the moment the doctors gave us the devastating news that daughter number two would be born with a congenital heart defect. She would live, but with a life-long medical condition that is managed by multiple heart surgeries and countless procedures, but not treated. I’ve painfully been forced to learn the difference between those two medical terms.
Things continued to go downhill from there. My husband lost his job and we ended up moving four times in six years. We survived a car accident, I ruptured my Achilles, and my daughter had three heart surgeries before she was eight. We could probably paper our house with doctor bills… if we wanted. Meanwhile, my husband’s new job forced him into a schedule that made him practically a stranger. I couldn’t recover from the first overwhelming circumstance before the next one hit. I was broken.
What followed was a sadness that blindsided me and left me with a heavy burden—a depression I couldn’t unload. I couldn’t even admit the weight of this sadness to myself, much less dump it on some unsuspecting bystander. No one wanted a piece of our mess anyway, not really. We had too much to carry—too much to share. A quick hug and a prayer was not enough to send me on my way to healing. Platitudes given to help me “rise above” or “overcome” only made me feel more isolated, more misunderstood. I felt like a failure.
I was shocked to discover that a person like me, a person of strong faith, was unable to simply pray my situation away. To heal, I had some work to do. Work that required more help than I could find in a Bible study or a Facebook group. I needed an outside intervention that, unfortunately, could not come from my friends, my family, or my church. They were all unqualified. When you have a busted pipe, you call a plumber. When you have a broken bone, you call a surgeon. When you need to heal from serious situational trauma, you need counseling and sometimes even medication. I (gasp!) went to therapy, for a while. And I (gasp!) took medication, because that’s what I needed to heal. Waiting so long to seek healing in the right place only delayed my ability to deal with it. The only person my pride hurt was me.
Through my slow and steady catharsis, God began to restore some of what I was missing. My dark cloud of grief and depression began to clear, and I started to reconnect with the outside world again. I attended small groups. I talked to parents at playgrounds. I forced myself to meet friends for coffee. I even poured out my story, completely exposed, into a book. These things were challenging, and sometimes downright painful. It was hard to be open and vulnerable, when all I really wanted to do was crawl under the covers and hide. At times, people were incapable of responding to my pain, and it hurt, really hurt. No one meant to be inconsiderate, but…you know…it happened anyway. But I kept going. Deep in my heart, I believed God when He said it would be worth it.
I asked God to send just one person to help me. The Holy Spirit whispered these words instead,
“You are asking for one person to share your life, but I am not going to send just one to help carry your burden, I am going to send an army.”
An army. More than I asked for. More than I could ever imagine.
God used this army to pour into our lives in too many ways to count: an unexpected check from a friend, a family member who stayed with us during one of our daughter’s surgeries, extra work to help with the finances, support when we least expected it. Through these things, God showed us He’s with us, even while we’re still in the middle of our survival.
I invite you to share in these moments of my life with the hope you will recognize something of yourself in this story.
I hang onto this truth: now that I know what it’s like to survive something…impossible… perhaps I can help others survive their own impossibilities.
And by sharing your story, perhaps you can, too.
Do you need someone to talk to? For more information, contact Marie Sarle at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 843 881 2100 x 1217 to speak with a trained Encourager.
Betts has written about her experiences in My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available in the Seacoast Church Bookstore and on Amazon.com.