As I sat in the waiting room of the emergency department that mid-December evening, I tried not to give in to the scary thoughts swirling through my mind. Hours later, as I laid still for the CT scan to check for abnormalities in the blood vessels of my brain, I was too anxious to pray. All the Scripture verses I knew fled my mind as I tried not to imagine the worst. Instead, I dredged up my faith and repeatedly chanted to myself, “Thank You, God. Everything is okay.”
It wasn’t a stroke, but the diagnosis didn’t really sink in until the next morning when I was brushing my teeth. I couldn’t spit out the toothpaste but sort of dribbled instead.
Unilateral facial paralysis.
I couldn’t eat or drink without embarrassing myself. My smile had become a mockery of its former self; only the right side of my face moved. My left eye streamed pretty much non-stop. I couldn’t raise my left eyebrow, and my hearing on that side sounded strangely muffled.
I took an extended sick leave from work. The days stretched out before me, punctuated only by sleep and the frequent beeps of my phone’s alarm reminding me to take my medication. My parents had kindly taken my kids until Christmas so I could have time to rest.
In the early days, I offered up desperate prayers and pleas to God for a quick and full healing despite knowing that recovery could take up to a year.
I was so sure that my case would be different. But when the days turned into weeks and I didn’t recover as quickly as I expected, I flatlined spiritually. I had no motivation or inclination to pray or read my Bible. I felt numb and alone.
January arrived and for the first time in years, I started a new year without any personal, business, or career goals. I had only one burning desire: full medical recovery.
I’m blessed to have a job where I can work from home, so after six weeks off, I was able to resume work. I was not recovered but no longer “unwell.” During this time, I began to see tiny improvements. For example, I could roll my upper lip, which also meant that I could use a straw. This was progress!
Then the pandemic hit. The government announced a lockdown and schools closed. My husband is a frontline worker, and my parents were out of the country. I felt distraught. How would I cope with working and looking after two children singlehandedly while also trying to recover? The doctors had stressed the importance of resting and taking things easy. How was that going to happen with two energetic children underfoot?
I felt as if I’d been journeying slowly through a dark valley but had suddenly became stuck with no way out.
It wasn’t until halfway through June, six months into my recovery and still in the middle of lockdown, that I came to a startling realization: despite having many days when I felt harried by all that was expected of me, I was somehow coping. Despite my spiritual numbness, God’s presence had been with me through the dark times, though I didn’t always feel it.
The road to recovery is taking longer than I ever expected, but each day I see His hand perform a new miracle, in the twitch of an eyelid or in a smile that’s slowly starting to tilt the right way, and I’m encouraged.
One of my favorite verses from Scripture says, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” (Hebrews 13:5 AMP)
Through this scary and overwhelming year, there were times when I wondered if God was still listening. But looking back, I see that I couldn’t have made it this far if He had let go.
I was never alone.
This season has given a new depth to my faith. Each day is a deliberate act of trusting and leaning into God’s rest. Despite the raging storms that cause my heart to shake, I know that “I’m in the shadow of the Almighty whose power no enemy can withstand” (Psalm 91:2 AMP). What great comfort to dwell in His secret place and have Him as my refuge.Leave a Comment