Earlier this week one of my favorite events occurred: my women's Bible study started back up. I love my Monday night ladies! I was delighted to see each and every one of them.
Our leader, Julie, is so precious. She's a spiritual sister and mom and friend to me. I tell her that her prayers are like a spiritual back rub. Sometimes when I bump into her after church, I can feel my soul let out a contented sigh.
On my first Sunday back in church after our time at Cleveland Clinic, Julie walked across the sanctuary to come hug me. She sat down and asked me how things were going. I gave her the same plastered smile and basic info that I had given others. Cleveland Clinic had taught us strategies to cope with Nolan's chronic pain. We would be fine. But Julie cried and gave me a hug. Then suddenly I was crying. Because Julie saw the hurt I thought I had hidden.
Our gathering this week was our first since November, so we had a little catching up to do. Julie asked me to give more details about our time in Cleveland and how we are doing since. I still have a hard time even forming complete sentences about our time in Cleveland. I fumbled a bit and then told my group that Nolan has attended every school day since we've been back home. He played in two basketball games (one went very well and one went very poorly). His head pain is still bad and his nausea is very bad, but we are plugging along with life. We are acknowledging small victories as we find our new normal.
Julie tried to summarize by saying, "So Cleveland was good?" I froze. I can't actually say that Cleveland was good. But there is something I can say. So I said, "Cleveland was the right move for us."
Good and right aren't always the same thing. Our three weeks in Cleveland were unspeakably hard. Sure we had good moments and huge blessings. But I would not characterize our experience overall as good. However, I can say that going to Cleveland was the right thing to do. Ultimately, I would rather do the right thing than the good thing.
But I didn't always know that Cleveland was the right thing.
There was a point in Cleveland when I was just done with everyone and everything, and I didn't want to be sitting on a gross bed in a tiny room with all my family members within six inches of my body. I didn't want to put on shoes to go down to the dining room to eat what someone else had chosen (but thank you to all who so generously provide meals to Ronald McDonald House residents!!). I didn't want to have every minute of every day scheduled for me while I homeschooled two kids and fought for another. Jared was busy trying to keep up with work and participate in back-to-back conference calls in a loud, tense environment. And I just wanted to be somewhere hidden and safe with someone who already knows me and loves me as I am.
So I sent a text to my dad and sister. They are my tough love people. They show me endless grace and let me be sensitive and emotional and analytical. They know when I need sympathy (always). They are also no-nonsense people who can offset all of my *ahem* quirks. I can count on them to pray for me immediately, and they can usually say something to give me a needed nudge. But don't tell them any of this because it will feed their bossiness.
So back to my Cleveland crisis. I reached out to my dad and sister, and they replied immediately with prayers and sympathy. I didn't even know what I needed or what I was expecting from them. I just knew I was stuck and couldn't move forward. Then my sister said the words I desperately needed even though I didn't know it.
She said, "No matter what comes of your time in Cleveland, it was the right thing for you to do." I was focused on how hard everything was and I just didn't think the limited improvement was worth all the hard. My sister reminded me that I couldn't control the outcome, but I was doing the right thing just by being there.
I know lots of other people are walking hard paths. Some of you are choosing to do the right thing, even without seeing the benefit or the outcome. Sometimes in the absence of results, you and I have to simply hold tight to the comfort of knowing we are doing the right thing.
It also helps to find somebody whose prayers feel like a spiritual back rub.