These writings are for the imperfect person searching for more of the Perfect God.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

An unlikely friendship

It was me and her.

Both bound to our hospital beds.  
Both bound to our suffering.
Both bound to each others words of encouragement.

And yet smack dab in our boundedness, we never did see each other's face.  

She was an elderly woman; a woman possibly in her 80's.  Yet a constant companion in this cold, sterilized, hospital room we both found ourselves restricted to.

Her calming voice, her unwavering hope, her gentle kindness, her quiet presence; they each consistently pierced through my aching body and divinely flowed Gods healing ointment into each hurting reservoir of both my trembling heart and my severely fragile spine.

Because friendship doesn't discriminate.

Genuine, undiluted, pure, joy-saturated friendship is the kind that's formed in spite of age.  Developed in spite of bank accounts. Originated in spite of social class.  Birthed in spite of political taste.  Conceived in spite of social status.   Produced in spite of personal preferences.

In spite of.

It was on this day, day four of unspeakable pain, day four of night and days seemingly to be endless, day four of staring at pain pumps, hospital equipment and numerous blinking gadgets, that I had learned to re-walk in this new body, this new frame, this new inner backbone now surrounded by two 15 inch rods and 24 screws in 12 vertebrae's.

Gripping onto my own personal flotation device of this silver warn down walker, I took one foreign step at a time.  Every muscle, every tendon, every vertebrae, every bone in my back moved differently.  Felt differently.  Functioned differently.  Operated differently.  

Differently was now a piece of me.  It was now a description of me.  It was now me, I quickly understood at a core level in this hospital stay.

And after about ten mentally and physically exhausting steps, I collapsed back into the blue stiff sheeted hospital bed only to be warmly embraced by the nurturing and healing voice of my bound-together roommate.  

Always eager to share a word of hope, a whisper of love, a cheer of you-got-this; all while suffering quietly in her own pain.  In her own suffering.  In her own affliction.  

She made it her passion, her desire, her joy to become my biggest cheerleader during those dark nights and torturous days.

She'd listen attentively to hear even the slightest of a faint groan slip from my tired lips and without hesitation, share a bible verse. Hum an old church hymn.  Ask if I knew how deep Gods love was for me.  

As tears would slip down my cheeks with the overwhelming gratitude of this angel at my bedside, I didn't have the strength or the mental capability to say "yes, dear one. I know.  But, please keep telling me.  Keep telling me.  Keep telling me..." I'd whisper in the confinement of my immeasurable grateful heart for this precious woman.  

A woman, who's face I never knew, soon taught me the meaning, shared the definition, expressed the purpose of this beautiful God-designed gift called friendship.

There was a new night staff on day-four of my hospital stay.  A night staff unaware of both my current limitations and my general situation.  And, as it was, a few hours prior to the switch of staff, the catheter was removed so that I could begin making progressive steps towards going home. 

Just around midnight, on this particular night, I first had an opportunity to test out my new catheter freedom.  Yet, almost immediately, I recognized the night-time staff was uninformed to my inability to not only walk, but to get myself out of this rigid hospital bed without assistance towards the bathroom.  

I distinctly remember having to share, in descriptive detail, what it was I needed help with-- which was basically the raw essentials of everything.

It was my first visit to this restroom and unbeknownst to me, it would be my last. 

As the nurse gently positioned me in the restroom, she shared she'd be directly outside the door and to simply call and she'd promptly assist me back into the bed.  

Almost instantaneously, I recognized I needed to leave.  The pain of being out from a laying position was just about unbearable.  

And so I called for her.

Nothing.

And so I called again.

Nothing.

I called one more time.

Still, nothing.

At this point, panic began to set in and the sweat began to pour down profusely.  Not only was I overcome with paralyzingly anxiety, the pain was on the tipping edge of being unendurable.

So, I tried one last plea of yelling out her name with every remaining bit of untapped strength within me.

And yet again... nothing.  

My eyes bounced fearfully to and fro, back and forth, from the walker to the five feet journey towards the medal handle on the closed restroom door.  After closely examining the impossible conquest, I distinctly remember hearing God directly whisper into the trembling heart, "I do the impossible, Joy."

So, I took a deep internal breath, wiped away a few crocodile sized tears and begged God to hold me up and supply my frailty with a considerable dose of both His supernatural courage and His extensive power.

With everything in me, I slowly pulled up onto the walker and took one gradual and steady step at a time, keeping a secured, fixed and locked gaze on one thing and one thing only -- that silver medal bathroom door handle.  A handle, today, now permanently stitched far into my memory.

While keeping a white-knuckled grip on the steady walker with my left hand, I reached far for the silver plated handle with my right hand and firmly pressed down until the door snapped open just enough for me to use the walker as a moveable force to drive open it completely.

As the door creeped opened,  I unhesitatingly yelled from a depth of great and deep seeded fear -"Help!" 

My new friend, my sweet companion, my faithful encourager-- the very voice that had sustained me these last horrific four days, said piercingly into my heart,

 "Joy, if I could, I would help you.  But I, too, can't walk.  I can't get out of my bed."

Taking approximately four more numb steps towards the empty and well lit hospital hallway, I knew I had reached the end of the untapped strength and simply had to let go.  Had to release the fading grip.  Had to stop the search.  

Without the slightest of exaggeration, the millisecond I released my ten fingers from around the walkers worn-out cushioned rubbery grip, two nurse staff ran directly to my side as I collapsed onto their secured arms, instead of onto the cold hospital tile.

Rescued.

Although It's now been close to three years since that March 7th evening, God continues to reveal deep truths and life-altering revelations from this single night.  This single event.  This single moment.

You see, this gentle friend; she was a gift straight from Jesus. She was a source of constant encouragement, of anchored hope, of boundless grace, of you-got-this moments which sustained me during the darkest, grimmest period of my life.

This sweet new friendship taught me, on that late March evening, that friends encourage.  Friends motivate.  Friends give.  Friends advise.  Friends cheer.  Friends assure.  Friends applaud.  Friends comfort.  Friends surround.  Friends love.

Yet, as beautiful, as treasurable, as priceless, as valuable, as God-designed as friendship is; at the end of the day, however, when we're going down, it's a Savior we need.  It's a Deliverer we require.  It's a Rescuer we expect.

Because friends, as God-designed as they may be, they too can't walk.  They, too, can't get out of bed. 

But, what I didn't share, is that it was this new friend, this faithful companion, this kind heart who called the nurse to my aid from her hospital bed side, that late March evening.

Yes, she knew she wasn't my Rescuer.  She knew she wasn't my Deliverer.  She knew she wasn't my Savior.  But she knew she had access to the One who was.

And here lies the simplicity and description to authentic friendship. Knowing they, us, we are not the Savior to our spouse, to our children, to our family, to our best friend, to our hospital-bound companion.  None can take this role that belongs to only One.  

Yet, we have a responsibility to step in the gap, as a powerful, committed, devoted intercessor to one another; and from our own hospital beds of life, call on the One who Was, who Is, who Always will be our Savior, our Deliverer, and our Rescuer.

Because it's only here, in the gap of our limitations, where we'll experience the beauty, the purpose and the treasure of this precious gift called friendship. 
"Then I will rejoice in the Lord.  
I will be glad because He rescues me.
With every bone in my body I will praise Him.
Who else rescues the helpless from the strong...?" 
Psalm 35:9-10


"He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him; 
He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and He will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to Him." 
Psalm 72:12-14