My heart and my memories will always be there. Although there is much more to my home state of Kansas, thanks to Dorothy it is known as the tornado state. Growing up I heard many tales of them, but I don’t remember ever experiencing one. Sure, we all had basements in our midcentury ranchers and we all practiced tornado drills regularly, crouched kids in the hallways at school. But I was an adult before I witnessed damage from one. One fact I learned early on is that a tornado’s wind speed can drive a piece of straw into a tree like a nail. But, at the center of the very large ones, I was told, it is actually quite still. Even peaceful. Hmmm. Not sure I actually believed that one.
Still, I was always intrigued. I’ve never been very good at peaceful. I’ve tried doing yoga and attending the symphony. Honestly, I kept thinking I should be multi-tasking to make either worthwhile. But this tornado of heart failure has helped me with that.
As circumstances and my prognosis seemed to spin wildly out of my control, the peace that passes understanding came flooding in for me at the center of it all. By nature, I am a realist, skeptical and sensible. Sometimes faith is hard for me for those very reasons. I had never before experienced this mysterious peace, but I had read about it and heard about it. And I certainly recognized it when it arrived.
It came immense and welcome and life-giving. Sometimes this eerie peace was relentless and smothering. Like being in a medically-induced coma, we spent our days in a peace-induced cocoon. And it was bigger than denial. It was a peace that was more real and stable. It was palpable. We were going to be ok. We didn’t know how or when, but that wasn’t important. We needed an overdose of peace and we got it, every single time. Now, in hindsight, I can tell you that it came from God, in response to the prayers of petition on our behalf. God knew our hearts and minds would need to be protected through the tornado that was consuming our world.
But the most convincing proof of this peace is in my own, sometimes anguished words, as I journaled through the storm. This journal entry is reflecting back. Perhaps my first realization of God’s peace protecting us:
Things that we have been protected from:
- My husband and I did not internalize how very close to death I was at the beginning. My cardiologist told us at our last appointment that on November 27, 2015, as I sat in my closet out of breath struggling to put my socks on, I was about to die.
- We never panicked that I was the most critical patient of the head of the transplant center at the top heart hospital in the nation for over a year.
- We have been protected from the worst side effects of every medication at every increased dosage. Doctors said I would never be able to handle even half of the meds; fellow patients said the side effects were debilitating. We experienced none of that.
- We have been protected from the emotional devastation that every heart failure patient and every cardiac professional and every media source warned us about. We have never lost hope, we have never cried uncontrollably, we have never thought we would lose the battle. This is truly the peace that passes understanding at work. It has been delivered through thousands of prayers, hundreds of cards, texts and phone calls, and dozens of meals, books, gifts, and care packages, from my family, my church family, and so many friends.
The blessing is two-fold, being protected from some of the harsh reality at first for survival, both physical and mental. Secondly, the blessing is in now seeing the situation for truly what it is, in retrospect, to stand in awe of the miracle of God’s hand moving. We have been so very blessed throughout this journey and while it has been the most difficult period of my life, I am thankful that God trusts me to journey through it with Him.
And, finally, a journal entry several months later, acknowledging that this mysterious peace had found a home with us:
To be honest, I haven’t always believed that God would intervene. Lot of days (maybe most) I doubted it. But on those days, I have this weird peace that whispers, “It’ll be ok even if He doesn’t.” Like the peace of a scared three-year-old in her daddy’s arms in the middle of a Kansas summer storm, burying her face in his neck because she can’t bear to watch what’s happening. I don’t really know what the end result will be. But I’ve always known someone bigger, stronger, and wiser, someone who loves me immensely, is taking care of me. And that is enough.