"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12
Tears, heavier than I formerly believed possible, fall on the laptop’s keys as I struggle to believe these words tonight. My confidence shot, my body in shambles - I am out of happy things to say. One year, or more, I have battled this fierce, surprisingly controversial, throat enemy. Growing, inflaming, and overtaking - it feels my castle is besieged.
I have been steadfast. Have I not? I followed God, in obedience, to love and pray for the nation of India for six years. When He gripped me, lovingly, by my shoulders and turned me ‘round to face the Neonatal ICU, I stood with open eyes. I learned much as a hospital volunteer, gaining incredible respect for the unique respective jobs of the unit’s staff. I saw life. I saw death. I saw family. My passion grew as I naturally advocated for the stories I witnessed on a weekly basis. For my final project in Composition I, I spoke spritely on the importance of breastfeeding and supported my topic with research showing neonatal infants later in life performed best when breastfed.
This dream was harder to let go of... I had never been to India. When it became clear that I would not spend my life there, I cried for a couple weeks, but then accepted that God had a better fit for me than overseas missions. Sure enough, He brought that fascinating field of neonatology to my doorstep. I know it was a stepping stone. The next pebble of my path. It doesn't feel like a pebble right now. It feels like a boulder. It's easier to say goodbye to a future that you've only read about in books and dreamed of at night. Unfortunately, I walked the floors of the very unit I was in line to work for. The staff knew me well and appreciated me. The director promised me a job upon graduation.
Somehow, I have walked away from both of these dreams. I don't even remember conjuring up the will power. All I know I that I did it because He said to. I am a broken, limp puddle of a person because I obeyed my God. I prayed for India. The little girl going into another surgery hugs her stuffed tiger, reminding her to pray for the other children who don’t have medicine or surgeries to fix things.... The only junior volunteer permitted in the NICU, eager but scared, trying to absorb all the information discussed on rounds, wondering when she’ll feel confident enough to pose a question.... Starting a charity for NICU mothers, being outspoken in my concurrent college classes - I could go on. But couldn’t you? Too?
I have been steadfast… and so I will continue. So this past year was a bit of a bust. It ruined my health and now I have a fungus inside me that won’t go away… we think. So what? So I’m sleep deprived and alternating different throat analgesics on a constant cycle. So my brother got on a plane early this morning as a leader of a medical missions team - a far-off idea the two of us kids would talk about late at night when we shared a room over the summer. These are just current events of my life that I get the privilege of working through. Current events... trials. Tests. If I can stand these tests. These trials. I will receive a heavenly reward from my lover. A gift from my very special someone... a big, shiny, embellished with incredible, heavenly script CROWN. And this crown... is a Crown of LIFE. I'm pretty sure that it's going to make up for every trial. Every test. Every spiritual battle. Every sickness. The undiagnosed and diagnosed, untreated and treated. If we can remain steadfast... it will be worth it.
Written May 24, 2015, the night before I went in the ICU. I am home now and, by grace, recovering well.
More to come, reflecting the experience. Fatigue from the Mycoplasmic pneumonia and Metapneumovirus have delayed my writing greatly.