Monday, August 24, 2009
Look & Live
Lately I've been thinking about storms. Some come quickly into our lives, blowing in without warning, leaving as quickly as they arrived. Others reveal themselves long before they descend, giving us a chance to prepare, to brace ourselves to survive.
There have been many storms in my life---numerous challenges that descended without warning. One example: following the birth of my first child, a series of blood clots formed in the main vein of my left leg. The largest clot was the size of a golf ball and all of them were in a direct line to my heart. I was told by my doctor that my life was threatened by their presence. As such, for 10 days, I had to lie very still, giving them a chance to dissolve, and\or anchor themselves with scar tissue--to preserve my life.
Those 10 days were among the longest that I've ever endured. My baby went home without me---he was cared for by my mother and husband. As I lay there that first day, I was filled with resentment. Wasn't this supposed to be a time of joy? Instead of going home to enjoy and love my newborn son, I had to remain in the hospital---for 10 days!!! So at first, I didn't take the warning seriously that I had been given. I was in pout mode. When I dropped the remote to the TV, I leaned over the bed and retrieved it from the floor. If the phone rang, I leaned over the other direction to answer. A little while later when an inexperienced intern arrived with a wheelchair and asked me to climb out of bed and into it for a ride to the x-ray lab, I obeyed. I reasoned that he must know what he was doing, and away we hurried down the hall to the x-ray facility.
When we arrived and the intern told me to climb up onto the cold metal table, I did just that. Then the x-ray tech arrived, looked at my chart, and freaked out. "HOW DID YOU GET UP THERE?" he roared. When I answered, he freaked out again. "DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND HOW DANGEROUS THIS IS?!!!" Once again I received a lecture on the evils of moving around with blood clots in my leg. I tuned it out, deciding that I had been moving around just fine without any negative consequences. These people were making a mountain out of a molehill.
I did feel sorry for the intern who was waiting out in the hall with the wheelchair. He received a Scotch blessing from the lab tech and I overheard most of what was said to the poor young man. It wasn't very nice.
After the series of x-rays were finished, four nurses made an appearance with a gurney. They each carefully lifted one of my limbs, gently placing me on the gurney. I'm almost certain I was rolling my eyes during the entire ordeal. Then slowly, carefully, I was pushed back to my room which was now next to the nurses' station. All four nurses cautiously picked me up, and placed me on the bed. Once again I was warned to avoid all movement---everything would be done for me, yada, yada, yada.
By then, I was truly feeling sorry for myself. I was angry, frustrated, and bored. Then the unthinkable happened. Another woman who had developed blood clots following a c-section was being transferred to the x-ray lab. Unlike my earlier adventure, all precautions were taken to gently lift her from her bed to a gurney. Then as she was carefully pushed down the hall toward the x-ray lab, one of the clots hit her heart. This happened right outside of my room. Suddenly, my door was slammed shut and I heard an alarm sounding over the intercom. Even with the door closed, I could hear a lot of commotion taking place. Several minutes later, all was silent. Nearly an hour later, my doctor opened the door to my room. There were tears in his eyes as he revealed that the other woman had passed away. Despite every precaution taken, she had lost her life. Once again I was given a lecture on just how dangerous my situation was. This time, it sunk in. I was terrified and I hardly dared to breathe.
Those 10 days were horrible, and yet, they were a Gethsemane moment for me. I discovered the importance of relying on the Lord. Daily, I prayed that my life would be preserved so I could raise my little boy. Priesthood blessings gave me much-needed assurance that I wasn't in this battle alone. And slowly, bit by bit, the storm passed by. I survived. Battered and somewhat bruised, I hobbled out of the hospital ten days later for the return trip home. Sadder but wiser, I had learned lessons not possible any other way, grateful for this second chance at life.
In today's troubled world, we are all facing numerous storms. They batter against our defenses, weakening us in places we never dreamed would crumble. I can testify that the only way we will survive this daily bombardment is to do those simple things that will bring us needed peace of heart and mind. Read the scriptures daily. Pray daily. Attend the temple as much as possible. Heed the important commandments and standards that we've been taught our entire lives. Steer clear of temptations that will drag us down into the depths of despair. Adhere to those things that will bring us the most joy.
A few years ago I taught a Sunday school class for teens. At the time, we were studying the Old Testament. We spent several Sundays in a row learning about the trials that Moses and the children of Israel endured. One story has always struck a chord within. During a time when the children of Israel were in whining mode, complaining about their lot in life, turning their backs to those things that would bring them joy, God sent fiery serpents into their midst to teach them a lesson. If bitten by these serpents, they could die. It took something that drastic to inspire humility and repentance. When that finally happened, Moses was instructed to fashion a brazen serpent and affix it to a staff. The only thing the Israelites had to do was to look upon the brazen serpent and they would live. Look and live. Sadly, despite the simpleness of the way, many turned away from that which would have spared their lives. They turned from God and died. What they failed to understand was this is symbolic of how our Savior, Jesus Christ, can preserve our immortal souls. It is up to us to accept His sacrifice on our behalf. (See Numbers 21:4-9; Helaman 8:13-15; 2 Nephi 25:20; Alma 33:19-29)
All we have to do is look and live. We must turn from foolish pride, and humble ourselves enough to understand all that our Elder Brother has tried to teach us---then we will find the happiness we seek. I know this is how we will survive the darkened skies of today. Look and live. Allow our Savior to heal us through His Atoning sacrifice. I'm living proof that when we place our lives in His very capable hands, we will survive whatever storms descend.