Have you ever noticed that life comes at you in waves? You’ll experience the fun times where you are playing in the waves, but then a rogue wave will surprise you and knock you off your feet. Sometimes, it might even drag you out to sea, making you struggle to keep your head above water. We get to experience both kinds of waves in life–the fun ones we can play and surf in, and the tidal waves that wring almost everything out of us.
Fall has brought some tougher waves into my life. My mom suffered a stroke in September which took away her speech and movement on the right side. It was quite unexpected and my siblings and I have worried over her a lot as she has gone through rehab and fought for strength and energy to get home again.
Then I had a hip replacement surgery in October. I’ve dealt with debilitating pain for the last six years, and this was my final hope to restore a sense of normalcy to my life. I’ll admit, I went into the surgery kind of naive. I figured since I was a good 20 years younger than all the other hip replacement patients, I’d bounce back quicker and have an easier recovery.
How wrong I was.
My body didn’t react well to anesthesia or painkillers. I spent the first three days hardly moving. When the physical therapist tried to sit me up to do exercises, I’d get dizzy from low blood pressure and puke. The older patients were out walking laps in the hall while I was still bedridden.
Eventually, my blood pressure came back up and I was able to do things…but I ached so bad I didn’t want to do anything. The first ten days consisted of me sleeping and being quite out of it. I didn’t even feel like reading or writing. My mind couldn’t focus beyond my pain and misery.
During this time, I read texts from my siblings about my mom and her care, and I felt even worse because I couldn’t do anything to help. It made me grouchy and irritable. The wave I was caught in seemed too deep to swim out of; I was drowning.
Thankfully, life’s waves, just like the ocean’s ripples, pass on by. The bad times eventually ease up and we can get our head above water again. My body gained strength (slowly, but surely) and I’ve progressed from a walker to a cane now. I still have a long way to go, but my mind is clearer and I am gaining joy from little triumphs.
I did the dishes the other day. Who knew that would make me so happy?
I made a crockpot meal.
I can get up and down my stairs on my own now.
Each little step is something to celebrate. The big bad wave I was rolling helplessly in has receded. There’s still some other waves to climb, but I can smile again and have energy to tackle them.
Blessings have come through struggling through the riptide. My mom and dad seem closer than ever from going through that stroke and recovery together. My family has had to pull together to take care of Mom and we’ve seen each other more than normal. That’s been fun. Friends and family stepped up to help me and my family during my time of need. So many meals and kind thoughts were sent our way. One dear friend even went above and beyond the meal-making duty and brought over a “Sunday Meal” with all the fixings (pork chops–loads of them, mashed potatoes and gravy, cottage cheese salad, homemade rolls, vegetables, pie and ice cream). My son was so happy he declared, “This is even better than your Sunday meals, Mom.”
And it was. I wasn’t offended. I’ve never claimed to be Betty Crocker or Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman). The kind acts of others have touched my heart and made me determined to be more aware of the needs of others when I am back on my feet. I have a desire to serve so I can bring joy to them like my friends and family members did to me in my dark hour.
Kindness seems more powerful than any wretched wave.
Even when those treacherous waves hit us in life, there is hope and blessings that can come. If you’re enjoying the playful, mild waves right now, reach out and throw a lifeline to someone who is tumbling in a rogue wave. And if you’re the one caught in a whiplashing wave, hold out your hand and believe help will come.
Even when you feel all alone, God is there. If you call out to Him, He will comfort you and send others to your aid. Sometimes it might not be in the way we would expect or wish, but it will always be for the best…since He knows what we truly need to gain from each wave.
I wish my mom hadn’t had a stroke and lost so many of her abilities, but I can see a lot of good things that have washed in with that horrible wave: family unity, an increase of love, no more taking family for granted, gratitude for small things–like the simple phrase I love you (that’s all she can say right now on her own, but it is enough and communicates more than a novel could).
I wish my hip hadn’t been malformed and caused me pain all these years, and I wish surgery wasn’t such a bear to recovery from, but good things have come from that wave as well: gratitude for things I took for granted before, an awareness of how much goodness there is in the world, a desire to serve better, stronger love for my family who has taken such good care of me.
Though I would never pray for the challenges that have washed over me recently, I can honestly say I am grateful for them. Just as surfers learn and become more skilled by riding each big wave, so I have become a better person by swimming through the waves that have hit me. I would never wish away the hardships that brought me a softer heart, an expanded soul, a deeper love and testimony of my Savior. The waves that could have drowned me have strengthened me and made me more grateful for the calm before the storm.
Since I’ve weathered these waves, I’m not so terrified of the ones that might hit me in the future. God is stronger than any wave life can throw at me. He will pull me safely through…and I will be a better person when my head comes up and I breathe deeply of the air after struggling through the churning waters.