One week into recovery from open heart surgery and I am celebrating a New Year. It is a new year when I actually do get to turn 50, after all. And in just two days, I get to celebrate my twentieth wedding anniversary. I don’t expect a lot of fireworks, but I would be surprised if there weren’t a whole lot of tears of gratitude. The tears have been epic throughout.
If you saw my previous blog post, you know I was given a Christmas Miracle. I have been quite out of it in the days after surgery, but today my head is beginning to clear and I wanted to share the rest of the story.
On Tuesday afternoon, December 26, I had open heart surgery. They had done a heart cath and an echocardiogram on the prior Saturday, after the symptoms had ceased. They had determined that my heart had sustained no damage from the blockages and they would do three simple bypasses and I’d be on the road to recovery. The doctor even said, “Yeah, it’s too bad it’s not Wednesday, we’d have had you on the table Thursday.” For a while, I was annoyed that I then had to wait through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for the surgery. “Even surgeons need Christmas,” I kept telling myself, but in my heart of hearts I just wanted to get this over with.
It was a hard discipline to wait three days for my surgery. When the day came, the surgeon ended up doing four bypasses instead of the anticipated three, and repaired my mitral valve. He was like a kid in a candy store. I was just waking up and groggy as can be, but I remember this: He stuck his smartphone in my face with a picture of what looked like a jellyfish. He explained to me in great detail (that fades on me a bit), that there was no apparent damage to my heart on Saturday, but that the mitral valve was damaged after they took the heart cath and echocardiogram, so they would not have known it if they had not waited for three days until surgery. And, he added, if they had done surgery too quickly, it would have eventually required a second surgery. He went on and on about how giddy he was to get to repair one of these suckers (mitral valves) because they usually just have to be replaced, but because my damage was so recent, the valve could be saved and he could simply repair it. I began to doze off again.
Three days felt like a long time to wait. Jesus and I had some very long conversations in there, and, of all people, he has assured me that he understands. It turns out once again that my agenda was flawed, that what I wanted was not exactly right. I am still learning to trust more deeply, to release more fully my life into the divine purpose. I don’t really know what to do with it all in the moment, which I guess is ok, because God has said simply for now, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10), or as I festooned a number of years ago,
Be still. Stop your tireless striving. Let go of your desire to control. Release the world around you into my hands. Don’t you see what I do with it when you let me? You are not God. I AM. Let me be.
It is amazing to me how all the spiritual work I have been doing these past few years is not an accomplishment, but a necessary prelude simply to get me ready for this. And what comes after this? I do not know. I only know that today I am alive, and I am ever so grateful for God’s perfect timing, which, once again, has nothing to do with my preferences, but only with what God is doing. I am aware that there’s an awful lot of heart work ahead. The surgeons can only do a part of it.
Trust. Be held. Breathe.
The hospital time since is honestly a blur. I remember moments, and especially some very kind nurses who attended to me with great love, but much of the rest of it I’m happy to let fade into oblivion. I was released this past Saturday, December 30, the eighth day of my hospital stay. Biblically, the eighth day is the day of Resurrection. It is the day when creation begins again. It is the day of new birth. Happy New Year!
I’m so very grateful for the many of you whose prayers have sustained me this far. You are my Christmas angels. Please keep praying as God continues this heart-healing work and I learn daily to release my life more and more into the divine hands. I really pray that I can get out of the way because I’m curious to see what God can do with it.