Everything else blurred as the 5 of us stared at each other in the living room. All I remember are the eyes. My husband’s grieving eyes. Agonizing over the reality of sharing the devastating news of my diagnosis with the ones he lives to protect. Wide 3-year-old eyes searching mine. Begging to see that everything was going to be ok. Beautiful 8-year-old eyes bewildered. Trying to grasp the news she didn’t quite comprehend with no idea how to respond. It was the 11-year-old eyes that pierced my soul. I knew at that moment she’d be most deeply affected. She’d remember the “before” more vividly than the others. She’d bear the brunt of new responsibility. She’d be old enough to ask hard questions and to wade in inevitable doubt.
I knew she was most vulnerable to be crushed in the darkness of the valley ahead.
Three days before, completely unsuspecting of the disastrous news, we’d attended an evening service at our church. I’d been experiencing some strange symptoms following routine surgery, but I was sure a doctor would take a look, give clear directions, and set me on the path to recovery. We sat around the table at church laughing, eating together, and listening to the speaker. My mind was distracted, but I stole a sideways glance when I heard my 11-year-old daughter scratching away in her journal. Was she writing something to the friend beside her, or taking notes?
The emotion in her eyes caught me off guard.
I tuned in to see what the speaker was saying that had caught her attention. He was sharing the story behind a song we’d heard countless times. He recounted the experience of a man who tragically lost his four traveling daughters when their ship collided at sea. She was scribbling furiously about this grieving father’s unexpected behavior. In response to the devastating loss, this man sat down and penned the timeless hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.”
Our eyes met in amazement. How could it be well with his soul?
Now these same eyes were staring at me in the living room. She was old enough to understand the words coming from my husband’s mouth. Chronic. Disabled. Excruciating. Spreading. Never. Always. My focus turned to the reel playing in my mind, dubbing over the previously anticipated narrative of our future. A twist of plot hanging thick with dreams that would never be.
I knew she was watching it with me.
We couldn’t sit in the living room forever. Somehow life just kept going. In an attempt at normalcy a few days later, we sent her off to an art festival in our small town with a group of friends. I pressed some cash into her hand and told her to enjoy her time. I cried when she left, fearing the impact that this shadow would cast on what I wished could be her young carefree days.
She returned with new resolution in her face.
Young hands behind her back clung to an item she had traded for her snack money. She presented the gift to me as I lie in pain on the couch. In the streets of our small town, a vendor’s booth had caught her eye. She walked away from her giggling friends, drawn to a tangible word from the One who penned each of her days before one came to be. Beyond the depth of a simple a piece of art, a tangible message from the One who sees drew her attention. A simple, rugged piece of wood. A simple hand painted phrase.
“It is well with my soul.”
The days, weeks, and months to follow held some even darker moments than the first. They also held some unexpected victories. Daily, they drew our eyes to those hand painted words. We’ve squinted at these words in the shimmer of a hope that is only revealed in the valley. Together, we’ve discovered that souls can be well…when all is not well. Our dependence has shifted. Emotions are still fragile, but our hearts are resolved. Some of our dreams may never be. The doubts and the darkness can not crush us.
A settled assurance is shining in our eyes. It is well.
6 Comments Add yours
A similar sign with those words hang in my bedroom where I now sleep alone. It reminds me every morning how the “light” always comes in the morning.
Your words are so personal to you yet resonate with so many others. Thank you and I praise God for your courage to write them.
Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. The light always comes in the morning. ❤️ I love that.
“It is well with my soul” That song has become my mom’s favorite, and consequently– I understand the significance also! Let me share “The REST of the Story” if you will! Not only does that song bring us Hope and perspective– But that family went on to do wonderful things in service to their Lord and God of all comfort.
It has been my joy to travel to the Holy Land 4 times! The first time I was taken (and continue to visit and make sure all traveling with me) “The American Colony”. It is now a hotel but it was established by the Stafford family where they lived and ministered to the orphans, poor, sick children both Palestinian or Israeli. They cared for countless children all in the name of Jesus.
This is only one story, one example of people experiencing pain, sickness, trauma and going on to reach out with the Love OF Christ in bigger more meaningful ways.
And so, not only do we find comfort and perspective– But we can also face fulfilling, purposeful, God-honoring lives in spite of the circumstances we find ourselves. I’ll email you a couple of pictures to show your daughter! And…let’s go to Israel together! Let me show ya around!!! It will be the “C.R.P.S.” walking tour!
Thank you for your words…so well written. I’m a “speaker”, I struggle with the writing!!! Good thing God can use us ALL!
Oh, yes! Please do! That is amazing. Our dream was a holy Land tour before I got hurt. I find myself wondering if I’ll be able to do it with Nick. It is on our bucket list. Let’s do it!
Amy, I went to Israel my 4th time in March of 2019 with CRPS in my right foot but undiagnosed. I’d been struggling with it since March of 2018. My husband works in orthopedic sales, he sells total joint replacements and is the operating room everyday with various surgeons.
On the first day of the trip, our first stop—I was so excited to be sharing this with people I loved!!!! I decided to take a short cut across some Roman ruins….instead of the walking path and twisted and sprained my “good ankle”. I hobbled around Israel for the next 11 days. My friends and family were praying for my “bad foot” and the good Doc with us had no history of my “bad foot”! He would tell me “Step or lead with your good foot”! I honestly didn’t know which one that was!!!!
After we’d been home 4 weeks, Doc asked my husband if I needed anything more for the sprain? Eric told him I had been saying it was beginning to “feel” like my other foot! This Dr. had seen CRPS and knew where to send us for answers. Of course, I, like you, found none of those answers acceptable.
That’s my story…but I cannot think that I will not return to Israel again one day! In fact the tour company we use now has “small group” tours which makes me very excited! A driver, A guide and 6-16 of your closest buds! AHHHH!!! And they allow you places the big groups can’t really tackle! So….. we will do this!!!!!
And now that I’ve been looking I can’t find the pictures of the American Colony! I have one more thumb drive they may be hiding on!
Thank you for your words! They resonate with me.
And I’m praying Covid pass easily. Each meal I am analyzing if I can smell and taste! UGH!