Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The GREEN Elephant in the ER Room

Tonight I sat in a room in the ER next to my four-year-old son.

I had many plans for tonight: to finish cupcake-decorating with my boys for their school snack the next day, to give my girls a bath and tickle them to giggle-oblivion and to rest my newborn on my chest, snuggling him ‘till his breathing slowed into a deep and peaceful sleep.

Instead, I was sitting in a cold, florescent room, holding the hand of my boy who was buttoned up to his chin in an over sized hospital gown.  My small boy was laying in a bed too big, in a world WAY too big, with too many BIG worries for such an innocent little guy.

These are the moments that MY plans and hopes intersect with real life.  When I’m left standing at that intersection of Reality, it’s not usually the place I want to be!

The past month our little guy had struggled with recurring pain and after a more recent series of strange symptoms, we decided not to waste another minute with unanswered questions so I grabbed his dimpled, little hand and we walked into the hospital, seeking some answers.

Four-year-old kids don’t always get how serious a situation could be and Judah was no exception.  Earlier that day, I had hung up the phone with a nurse who had heard what was happening with Jude and advised us to come in as soon as possible. When I had told him he needed to go to the doctor, he lifted his chin and said with the biggest and bravest voice he could muster, “Don’t worry, Momma--I won’t cry and I won’t pout!”  In spite of my heavy heart, I had to smile!

Once we arrived at the ER the doctor was somber-faced and silent as I explained Judah’s symptoms and he gave my son a thorough exam.  He wanted to first consult with a specialist before giving us any answers and I sat and waited...and waited. It was those anxious moments that found me sitting in a brightly lit ER room and fighting dark worries that clouded my mind.

Worry and parenthood definitely go hand-in-hand.  From the moment my firstborn son’s cry pierced the air on a beautiful summer night over five years ago, ugly Worry arrived in his wake.  Worry had his bags packed with enough fear and doubt that it was quickly apparent he planned on staying the rest of my son’s life...and he stuck around for my second, third, fourth and fifth child as well!

I try to remember Worry is the darkroom where negatives are developed and that nothing good ever comes from it...but when my back is against the wall (especially in an ER room with my baby), Worry is standing right next to me and I’m usually listening to everything he has to say...

“What if this is something REALLY serious...?”
“What if something is wrong that YOU can’t fix...?”
“What if the WORST thing that could happens does...?”
“What if...???”

Trying to NOT think these thoughts and trying to ignore the worries that plague my mind in these moments of weakness is like saying, “Don’t think of the pink elephant in the room.”  What are you thinking about right now?  I’m guessing a pink elephant!

Tonight though, as I tried to NOT think about that pink elephant and NOT worry (that was a double-fail there!), I felt God encourage me to do something that sounded rather silly at the moment, “Don’t try to not think about the pink elephant, Tara...just replace that thought with a GREEN elephant.”  My first reaction was, “What!?  I need some more explanation on that one, Boss!”  Thankfully, more clarity arrived way before the doctor did and, once again, God’s timing was perfect.

It’s not enough to just try to not worry and try to not think fearful thoughts, I need to replace those thoughts with God’s Word (ie, the green elephant!), which is powerful and can defeat ANYTHING (even GIANT pink elephants!!).

“What if this is something REALLY serious...?”
“Well then, if it is: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“What if something is wrong that YOU can’t fix...?”
“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thes. 3:3)

“What if the WORST thing that could happens does...?”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:27)

“What if...???”
The LORD is my light and my salvation— WHOM [or what!] SHALL I FEAR? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1-3)  (One of my personal favorite verses ever!!)

By the time the doctor returned to our hospital room, my peace had returned as well.  Once God’s peace flooded my soul, there wasn’t any space left in the room or my heart for a pink elephant.  And that pesky Worry and all his horrible baggage had to beat it as well...I’m pretty sure he’ll try to come around again but I’m hoping to squish him with that GREEN elephant once again!

I squeezed Judah’s hand and he smiled at me, knowing that after the doctor delivered his news there was a good chance the nurse would deliver him and his big brother a long-awaited Popsicle for “good behavior”.  I smiled back at him and really meant it.  
No matter what the diagnosis was: whether Judah would need surgery or whether it was nothing major, I wasn’t afraid anymore because I remembered that “the Lord is my light and my salvation--whom [or what Pink Elephant] shall I fear?”

Hasta la vista, Pink Elephant!

P.S.  Jude’s going to be okay...we're taking things one day at a time with God's peace!!


Unknown said...

Tara. Best blog ever. Judah will be in our prayers.

Tara Cole said...

Appreciate that!