Such a calming rhythmic sound. A sound so regular that we sometimes forget how important it truly is.
November 20, 2018 was a very long day. It was the day that my dad had triple by-pass surgery. Three of his four major heart arteries were blocked.
We were told to be at the hospital at 6 a.m. I awoke that morning and looked at my phone. It read 5:45 am. “Oh No!”
I threw some clothes on, wrangled my hair into some type of messy braid, and dabbed on some mascara.
I made it to the hospital, but my stomach was knotted with angry butterflies fluttering around. All I could think was “I hope I’m not too late. I have to make it.”
I arrived at my dad’s room and saw my mother and most of my family standing outside. The anxiety in my body immediately dropped. I had made it.
I went inside and made jokes with my dad. Laughter is a common thing that he and I both like to use to combat our fears.
It was hard to not be emotional while looking at him in the hospital bed. Here lay my
protector, my comforter, my… daddy looking so… vulnerable. The knowledge that he was about to have his sternum sawed in half, ribs pulled back, and heart held by a surgeon was enough to break me. An instance were ignorance would have been true bliss.
I knew triple by-pass surgeries were very common, but that didn’t diminish its seriousness, and I felt all the seriousness of that day.
“Would I see him again?”
I had just gotten engaged a few weeks ago.
“Would he be able to walk me down the aisle?”
Nurses started entering the room to give him some type of anesthesia. Our pastor asked if he could pray with us. It was at this moment when I first noticed that my family were not the only people present.
To my surprise, Jeff Greer, a member from our church and life-long friend of my family was there. My mother later told me that he had gotten there before her.
A fact that I could tell that touched her as much as it did me.
Soon after the prayer, we were all shone to a small waiting room just down the hall.. It was a small, cold, uninviting room with very uncomfortable chairs. In a corner of the room was a phone. The dingy white walls matched the comfort levels of the old plastic chairs. This is where we were to spend the next several hours-just waiting.
As we’re getting settled into our very uncomfortable chairs, more of my parents’ church friends showed up. Even one of my parents’ previous pastors from many years ago showed up and… stayed.
Their presence was such a comfort to me. They shared stories, made my family laugh, and offered prayer. Mostly though, they waited with us.
Talking and listening to their stories were a great distraction. It was all I could do during those long hours to not to turn into a puddle of tears.
Every so often the phone would ring. Everyone would stop talking at once and stare at my mother, studying her face for any clues.
Was he still breathing? Is everything still going as planned?
My mother’s face never gave any clues away. We held our breath waiting for her to relay the message each time.
As the hours went on, it really struck me that of all the friends my parents had, it was their Christian friends that came to their aide.
It was the first time I had experience the love, warmth, and strength of a church family. The first time that I understood the depth and importance of living in community with others.
Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” The law of Christ that Paul is referring to is loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40).
I indeed felt very loved that day. I felt loved by their show of friendship, and consequently, I also felt very loved by God.
In June, eight months later, my dad not only walked me down the aisle, but also danced with me at my wedding. A moment I will always treasure.
Those same friends, they were at the wedding too, dancing right along with us.
Joining a church or being a part of a small group are not imperative to salvation, but they are for surviving this side of heaven. Their kindness gave me courage. They helped shoulder my burdens that day and I am eternally grateful.
Find a community that can cry, pray, and dance alongside the best and worst parts of life. For we are not meant to carry our burdens alone.