Monday, February 7, 2011

Does God Shout at You?

Do you have those moments in your life when it feels like God is shouting at you?  So often, I am desperate to hear from God.  I want to know if I'm doing the right thing, on the right path, making the right choices.  I want to be affirmed.  Most of the time, I can only see God's affirmation of my path in hindsight.  I will look back at certain events and see where God was talking to me, and usually I wasn't listening.  Recently I had one of those moments where God was clearly talking to me and I really really really wanted to ignore it. 

I've written about my dad's fall and extended time in the hospital.  When he first went to the Rehabilitation Hospital, we got a terrible prognosis.  The staff of the rehab hospital has weekly meetings where they evaluate the patients to see how they are healing and make estimates of how long they will need to be there.  After the first meeting we expected to get a date very far away.  We knew that Dad was not well and would need a lot of time to get better.  The doctor, the case worker and a social worker met with my mother, my sister, and me.  (The social worker being there should have tipped me off)  The doctor told us what he thought was my dad's underlying health condition, and that we should find a skilled facility (translation-nursing home) for Dad, get him settled and let him start his new life there and we could "enjoy him there."  Oh, and he didn't think Dad would ever walk again.
Have you ever had the sensation that the ground was falling away beneath you?  That's how I felt in that moment.  I gripped the table because it felt so bizarre.  I looked at my mom and my sister and they were stone faced(don't play them in poker!)  I know that for a lot of families, that is the news they get and it IS the very best advice for them.  It just didn't feel right.  Way down deep in my bones, I knew that they had it all wrong.  Well, not all wrong.  They were taking good care of Dad.  When I walked out of that room I was not only determined that we were going to prove them wrong, I was angry.  I was so angry with that doctor.  I knew I couldn't say anything obnoxious because we wanted Dad to stay there as long as possible, but I had several choice things I wanted to say to that doctor. 

  Dad started to improve.  He had an amazing physical therapist who believed that Dad could do more than anyone was thinking.  He pushed Dad and made sure that the doctor saw the progress and improvements that were happening.  The doctor was encouraging with Dad.  I called it sucking up because I was still angry.  Over the next couple of weeks I had several conversations with this doctor, but every time I still walked away angry.  I couldn't let it go.  No, I didn't want to let it go.  Being angry was preferable to the other emotion that was lurking in my heart, fear. 

We were fortunate to have a caregiver who came and stayed most nights with my dad in the hospital.  Sunday was the only night she couldn't stay so I stayed with him those nights.  He fortunately was sleeping better, but I still didn't sleep at the hospital.  I spent my hospital nights reading or on my computer.  Ok, on my computer.  I played on twitter until the wee hours of the night when even the west-coasters went to sleep.  Then I started googling everyone that I came in contact with.  (the amount of information I found was a little frightening)  I happened to google the name of the doctor. 

On the bottom of the first page of google results was the memorial page of a good friend, Ted.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I had been thinking about Ted and his wonderful family because it had been almost two years exactly since he had passed away.  I could not reconcile this doctor being a friend of Ted's.  I convinced myself that the doctor's sons must be around the same age as Ted's kids.  Maybe the doctor and his son shared a name and it was the son that commented on the memorial.  Had to be.  I thought about it each time I saw the doctor and contemplated asking him.  Nope.  Much easier to stay mad.  Even though he had been nothing but nice and encouraging with Dad.  Much easier to be mad. 

And then I asked.  I almost couldn't believe it when it came out of my mouth.  I asked if he knew Ted and his wife.  Holy Geez the floodgates opened.  He had known Ted.  Their sons were on the same traveling soccer team.  He and Ted had driven to many out of town soccer games together.  We agreed about what a tragic loss it had been because Ted was truly one of the good guys.  The doctor talked about Ted and how inspiring he had been.  It was clear that he knew Ted's heart.  Damn it.  As the doctor talked about Ted the last of the anger just floated away.  After he went back to his office I allowed myself one heavenward glance, "Fine."  Okay, God.  Okay, Ted.  I get it.  It was as if God had been nudging me and that didn't work so shouting was the next step.  Misplaced anger.  This doctor was not a bad guy at all.  (no way would Ted have driven out of town more than once with someone who was insufferable~ Ted wouldn't have said they were insufferable, he just would have found a way out!)

So, no, the doctor wasn't right when he diagnosed Dad.  And even though no one can be right every single time,  I don't think this doctor is wrong very often.  And he really is a nice guy, a good guy.  How often do I hold on to the wrong opinion because it's easier?  How many times do I do that without God (and Ted) shouting at me?  What is God nudging me towards today that I'm not listening to?

And the most wonderful news is that Dad has taken his first steps.  He walked about ten feet and I cried like the girl I am!  He still has a long road to recovery, but taking steps is HUGE!


Ali said...

CONGRATS on those steps!! I know he must be extremely proud (& tired) & can feel your pride in your post. Hoping those are the 1st of many to come.

I understand about your anger. Sometimes we need to feel that because it feels more empowering than the fear. Glad you are realizing the doctor isn't the real source of the emotion.

I think they try to tell us the worse case scenarios so that if things end up being better, we can be pleasantly surprised & well if things are as bad as they say, then we can't suit saying they didn't warn us. I don't know, I just know its hard to wonder day to day what is next when all you want is that one miracle.

Hoping everyday is an improvement on the one before. :)

Rachel said...

So glad your Dad is taking steps!! It's such a long process, but you're moving forward together. You've showed up at the hospital for my family over the years, I so wish I could be there for you.

In the words of Christopher Robin, "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." Hug you for me, Love you.

Unknown said...

Gosh I love you and every time I read your thoughts I am reminded of why we are friends and how wonderfully faithful you are.
Isn't it so like us to ignore that God is our parent and we are just like kids...sometimes we listen, more often we hear sounds but they don't completely register but when they do we are reminded of just how much we are cared for and that we are not alone.....I am proud to know you and am thankful that you were reminded of Ted and let go of the anger.

Annie said...

I found you from Sarah P's Real Life blog! I love finding sister's in Christ and reading their stories. Hooray for your dad! That is wonderful!!

I too have had misplaced anger towards a medical person -my first OB/GYN. I had to have a c-section because she didn't know the entire pregnancy my baby was breech. I felt so terribly let down, and angry with her for "breaking" me.

But anger does no good and your story is full of inspiration! Thank you for sharing it. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Scottie said...

It makes me happy to think Ted had a "hand" in helping you through that situation. He really was fond of John...who really does have a good heart. While you learned a lot about yourself through this experience, I bet that John also learned some new things from the experience of treating your dad and dealing with you and your are BOUND to have had a positive influence on him as you do on most folks you meet.

I love you...