Patience

Patience has never been a virtue I excelled at. It appears God is giving me ample opportunity to learn it, however.

One morning last week, I wrote in my journal three things that I need to do better and all three of them revolved around that one virtue… Patience. Patience with others who deal with stress differently than I do, patience with my children, and patience with Ray’s recovery process, which is clearly going to take longer than the few weeks I’d like to give it. (ha ha)

Many people ask how he’s doing, and I’m struggling to answer that question. On the one hand, compared to where he was a five weeks ago (essentially comatose), he’s doing fabulously. On the other hand, compared to where he was six weeks ago, before this all happened, well…

I was forewarned that I would be too close to the process, and that it would be difficult for me to see the changes. This has revealed itself to be all too true. The changes don’t seem to be coming quickly enough.

Ray can now walk with a walker and the support of his physical therapist. He can brush Ray and Zachhis teeth, use a spoon, and drink water from a straw. He can read, although he tends to neglect the left side of the page and will skip words on that side. He can talk, and has even progressed to the point where he can converse and answer questions like, “how many kids do you have” and “What’s your wife’s name.” However, it’s a strange dichotomy. Today he accurately gave the year, but said that he is thirty years old. He knows he’s in the hospital, but he doesn’t remember what happened to put him there.

The doctors, nurses, and therapists all tell me the same thing: They don’t have a crystal ball that will tell them how much of his functionality will return, and in what time frame, though they have generally indicated that we’re looking at a two year recovery process before he reaches his new “normal.”

And so I wait, and I pray for patience. But, even as I pray, I know that I am blessed, because this experience brings me closer to Christ. Imagine the patience he had to have in order to endure his Passion without saying, “Enough!” and calling on the angels to rescue him.

And so, every day, I try to look to that example of Christ, to walk this path without crying, “Enough!” Let’s be honest. I’m not Christ, and thus there have been and there will be days when I do cry out and feel ready to give up. But, by the grace of God, following those moments of weakness, I will shake myself off, stand back up, and keep plodding along.

The more I respond as Christ would have responded, the more I am conformed to him. And the more conformed to him I become, the more complete my hope, peace, and, even in this difficult situation, joy.

Patience.

A Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

It’s now been three and a half weeks since Ray’s heart attack. From finding my husband dead on the floor, to praying while performing chest compressions, to facing a future filled with uncertainty, I have been blessed with “a peace that surpasses all understanding.”

The Mass readings throughout this Advent season have spoken to me in an entirely new and more meaningful way, so it came as no surprise last night when I looked at today’s Mass readings and saw this:

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:4-7)

In the past few weeks, so many people have marveled at how “strong” I’ve remained dolphin cruise allthrough all of this. Honestly, when people say this, I feel like a complete and total fraud. I’m not strong. My God is. The only thing I did right was this: When the crap hit the fan, I immediately put the situation into God’s hands.

Seven years ago, when Bear was about to have surgery, I was a nervous wreck. I went to the Blessed Sacrament chapel and prayed the Rosary. When I was finished, I was filled with calm and peace. I knew it would be okay. I didn’t know that Bear was going to be fine and we’d live happily ever after. But, I knew that, no matter what, God was going to take care of him, in His own way, and that He would take care of me and the rest of the family, as well.

In the years since, there have been many, many times when I have been in stressful situations but remained unconcerned. I put it in God’s hands, knowing… God would provide, and God would be glorified.

My husband laying lifeless on my family room floor, while I did chest compressions, surrounded by our five children, definitely raised “stressful situation” to a whole new level. Thank God, my response had become automatic. The words that ran through my head were:

God will provide. God will be glorified.

I can’t explain it, because it really is a peace that surpasses all understanding, and I can’t explain what I myself can’t understand.

But I can tell you this. I’ve known it. And I’ve been incredibly blessed in it. And I pray that everyone reading this post will know it as well.

I don’t think that response would have come so easily without practice. In fact, I know it wouldn’t have. It came with years and years of taking small problems and handing them over to God, and then watching in wonder and awe as He took care of them.

And so I sit, free from anxiety, filled with a peace that surpasses all understanding. Thanks be to God, my husband has had a miraculous recovery already. However, the fact remains that we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Perhaps he will remember that he has five children, and recall their names correctly. Perhaps he won’t. Perhaps he will return to a meaningful life as a husband, father, and provider. Perhaps he won’t.

Regardless, God will provide. For Ray, for me, and for the children. God will be glorified. And God will grant us peace.