Today was one of those days when I listened to the same song over and over and over again. At my desk, while working out, in the car, while shopping at Target, around the house. Because music, to me, is a prayer. It’s how I express my heart, how I tell the Lord my longings, when I plead for mercy. Music is peace. Music is comfort. Music is promise. Music is more than worship. It’s connection and communion. So when life gets hard, music enters my soul in a deeper, more personal form. Because music expresses my heart in ways my words cannot. Music patiently awaits the tears that fall. Music is the release of my worries and fears.
And today there are many of those worries. My heart is so heavy. Because after one more sleep, my sweet mother in law is heading to the operating room so the surgeon can see how extensive the adenocarcinoma invading her colon really is. The silent killer will no longer be able to hide. And I pray and plead for mercy on her body. Because I lost my mom. I know the pain of watching the one person who is the cement of a child’s life be ripped from me. I experienced the longing for one more kiss, one more conversation, one more moment of safety next to my mom. And even as an adult, I have craved that mother/child relationship. So when those familiar emotions of fear and worry take over and push the confidence out, music brings balance back to the slippery slope of living in fear or the choosing of living in faith.
When my phone called out to me with the familiar beep of a new text message today and told me Ryan is heading back to surgery in ten days, I ran to my song. My over and over and over again song. Because for today, surgery equates scary. Today surgery means after one sleep, my sweet second mom will be in pain. And I can’t take it away. Surgery means one more chance of something going wrong with Ryan. It means pain and more incisions. It means his seizures and delays and every other problem are back at center stage, vying for attention, calling out for my energy, zapping me of strength, teaching me of longsuffering again. And sometimes I just get so tired of putting one foot in front of the other with Ryan’s issues. Sometimes I don’t want to climb the rocky path. Sometimes I want a gentle breeze, a smooth sail, a lingering pause. But it simply never comes. I tell the seizure monster of my fatigue but he doesn’t listen. So surgery has to visit again to replace the battery that died far too soon. The nerve stimulator puttered out because we pushed it to its limits. I don’t feel like doing this again. The emotions of another battle zap my energy and reserve.
And in between these two surgeries for two people I dearly love is Travis’s appointment with the orthopedic surgeon next week to find out why his foot is so swollen, why he has been limping for months, denying the pain the attention it seeks. He has a pin in this foot that bombards his body with anguish. Four days before Ryan’s last brain surgery, Travis had screws and a pin put in that foot. And now something is wrong again. It needs attention. Maybe more surgery. But something is not right. So soon we will face this bump on the journey too. We simply can’t afford another surgery. Not emotionally. Not mentally. Not financially. Not physically to work out Ryan’s care.
Then there is Sidney who is sidelined with a lingering back injury requiring physical therapy three times a week and keeping her from her passion. Keeping her from dwelling in the outlines of the volleyball court. But injury fights for attention. It steals peace and comfort. So therapy it is. But the pain and muscles spasms don’t know my girl. They don’t know she is a fighter. She gives her all to whatever is put in front of her. And she will battle back to health and volleyball. When you are fourteen and playing high school ball for the first time, sitting out is devastating. But this strong girl knows how to fight. She knows disappointment. She’s struggled and walked hand in hand through the hell of watching her brother suffer through seizures and declining health. She’s got this. She will come out stronger and more confident in her abilities. But right now, she is disappointed and physically hurting. And that hurts my momma’s heart more than any physical pain could ever pull me down.
So this song. These words I’ve listened to at least twenty times today. This prayer and praise I’ve memorized and buried in the corners of my heart. These are the words. They are comfort and promise. Listen to them. Write them on the walls of your heart as well and keep them close for the moments when you are suffering. For the moments when you hurt for a loved one. For the experiences that disappoint and bring tears. Because we all have them. We all face trials. But these words. They are truth. They are God’s tender love for us.
When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear
You amaze me
You call me as Your own
You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul
It’s the amazing truth in doing the hard things. We are never alone. Even when the darkness presses in, when the walls come down, when the fear overtakes and drowns us. The Lord fights our every battle. He goes before us. He is our safety in the storm. He calls to us. But the choice to trust is ours freely given. The offering of peace is the decision we must make minute by minute. When colon cancer comes to steal peace, when the seizure monster unleashes his power, when pain and swelling take up residence, when back problems rob opportunities and dreams, we are not alone. Our Heavenly Father has already gone before us preparing the way. Sometimes it’s healing, sometimes it’s delayed success, sometimes it’s disappointment, sometimes it’s relinquishing dreams and plans. Whatever we face, He’s there ready to walk us through it. Our Jehovah Shammah. I am not alone and neither are you. What peace that promise brings when we trust the process. When we place ourselves in the heart of His will. Tomorrow the deep waters will rush in. The emotions will run at high tide. The fear will press the borders of peace. I’m not ready for the days ahead. But God is. Especially when life gets hard. I am not alone.
Psalm 23:4 ~ Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.