I sat there today in church, this time with an open and expectant heart. I am learning, slowly, that I too am in great need of receiving the words preached on Sunday mornings.
The drive down was quiet, just me in the car as I arrived early to help with worship. I love these mornings. The quiet ones in the car, just me, the music, my open heart, preparing for church. I’m not having to break up fights or listen to the Moana soundtrack for the thousandth time (although, I honestly don’t mind it too much).
I went over the songs for the morning, skipping over the parts I knew well to focus on those I needed to really nail the harmonies in. Only because once I have those nailed down can I really feel like I am able let go and just sing.
The time of worship first service was sweet with a real sense of the Spirit moving amongst the congregation. I could feel my heart welcoming the moment, like the sweet taste of honey.
I sat down, in the front row after the worship. David and the girls were coming to second service so I sat solo, notebook out, pen in hand, ready and eager.
Shortly into the message, the assistant pastor who was teaching today shared a story from his days as a paramedic. At first, I sat wide-eyed listening intently as the events unfolded, laid out by his memory.
Soon enough, I found myself in a full blown panic. As the story unfolded, my wide-eyes began to squint as the corners of my mouth began to quiver, my heart beating out of my chest, my hands started to shake.
The story he was sharing hit too close to home in my raw and wounded heart, I found myself reliving the events of my own life.
As he continued on, my mind raced back to Bernadette, so little and helpless. So tiny and fragile. So sick. Her little heart, the one that was failing her. The one that was created with imperfections. The one that has caused my own heart more pain than I would have ever imagined.
Her chest was cracked open, her heart put on bypass as the surgeon saw a piece of her I will never visibly see with my own two eyes. He repaired it.
My mind pictured what the scene would have looked like as he spent hours fixing her heart the size of small strawberry. How can he even really see what he was doing? How many people stood there in that room with him, keeping her body alive? Was the room silent? Was he teaching others as he patched the holes and separated the valves?
I couldn’t hold back the tears forming in my eyes as panic threatened to take me down as I sat there, by myself, smack dab in the front row. I wanted to run out of there. The room felt as if it were closing in on me.
I closed my eyes, “God!” I silently begged. “Please, God. Please!” By this point, his voice faded off into the background, my own thoughts yelling at a volume that drowned out any other noise.
“Stop!” I told myself as I quickly searched for the truth. Yes, my daughter did endure two major heart surgeries. Yes, that was one of the hardest things in my life. And yes, there is lots of trauma surrounding those memories for me. Trauma I am working through. Trauma that has gripped tightly around me into silence for far too long.
A few tears escaped the corner of my eyes as I thought forward, forward to the last visit with the cardiologist. Her heart is stable. “Her heart IS STABLE!” I reminded myself over and over. My heart rate slowly beginning to decline as I worked my way through the panic.
It’s hard for me to admit, to share from such a place of vulnerability. But there is so much healing in it. Knowing, I made it through, all of it really. I made it through the pregnancy I thought was not going to end well. I made it through delivery, through heart surgeries and hospital stays and illness and feeding tubes. I made it through her first birthday and soon her second. I am making it, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, as God continues to heal this shattered heart of mine, heal the memories around the trauma. Heal me.