“I just want to go home,” my son said. Then immediately, the tears came. I fought back my own tears as I grabbed him and rubbed his back.
“We’ll be home soon, buddy. They’re just trying to make sure you’re safe, ok?” I looked into his eyes and he gave me a nod.
We exited the bathroom and made our way back to the patient room in the ER, waiting for the ambulance that would transport my son to a children’s hospital an hour and a half away. A medical team needed to monitor multiple head injuries that had resulted from a biking accident, and the other hospital was better equipped to deal with trauma.
Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, I learned my son has multiple ways of dealing with both physical and emotional trauma. The first one is asking questions. Lots of them. Not only does he ask them, but he asks those answering to repeat the information multiple times.
Doing this gives him a feeling of control of the situation, even when it’s uncontrollable. It makes him feel a sense of order in the midst of the chaos. Unfortunately, I also learned that people are people. They make mistakes and often give inaccurate information or say things they don’t follow through with.
So what do you do when the foreseeable future is unknown?
When you’re looking at the events of your life and asking yourself, “Is this really happening?” You feel as though you’re not living your actual life, but something out of a movie scene. And unlike a child, you have enough life experience to know people’s faults and inability to always keep their promises.
When I’m in a horrific situation like the one my family and I went through, I go into autopilot mode. My focus is entirely on doing the next thing I need to do to protect my child and survive. I don’t have the mental capacity to recite verses out loud or preach them to myself. My prayers become simple breaths in and out, with single words uttered.
Help. Come. Protect.
But even though my words may be few, I observe. The Spirit shows me he’s there, even when I don’t have the answers or the outcome I want. So when the nurse brings an extra hot pack to my son even after the IV is in, I know he’s there. When I receive a message from a friend at just the right time, I know.
As I see these provisions unfold, God brings to mind aspects of his character for me to meditate on.
Nothing complicated to cloud my already overwhelmed brain, but singular characteristics.
Healer. Redeemer. Rescuer.
I realize prayer is not to try to manipulate God’s hand, although in this case, I sure want to. It’s an invitation to recognize who he is. To bring him into circumstances where yes, he’s already there. But through prayer, I see it.
“Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.”
Psalm 107:43 NIV
My son had hundreds of people praying for him all over the country. He was discharged the following afternoon, and as we left, I noticed a prayer chapel on his floor. In the chaos, I didn’t see it the night before or even that morning when I trekked to Starbucks and a zombie-like state.
But there it was, its outer walls covered with circular glass sculptures reflecting light from the outside. It had a whimsical appearance, inviting the outsider into its sanctuary.
He’s always inviting us in, friends. But sometimes, I believe we make it more complicated than it is. What I’m slowly learning is this: We don’t have to be anything other than what we are to enter his presence.
So if you’re scared and overwhelmed, come. If you’re discouraged and defeated, come. Lay it before him and let him do what only his Spirit can.
His sanctuary isn’t within walls, but right where you are. Let it surround you today.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“One of the most comforting books I’ve read in a long time. Author Abby McDonald writes from a place of vulnerability and truth, and she clearly writes to serve her reader. A sweet book full of honesty and wisdom.” -Brenda
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.