A week ago Monday morning, my husband Kyle asked me if I had anything going on in the afternoon. If not, he said, he'd like to come home from work early, spend time with the kids and then take me out on a date in the evening. One glance at the calendar and I breathed a sigh of relief that nothing was scheduled, because I really wanted to spend one-on-one time with my husband. I missed him, even though we'd been in the same house. We'd been unseparated but also moving beside each other, grinding it out under the demands of home and ministry that had seemed weightier than normal for months on end.
I heard the door open at 3:30 pm that afternoon from where I was sitting in the dining room and rushed in to greet him, eager for the time we'd planned to be together. When I turned the corner, however, all I saw was blood. He stood there, staring at me, his raised hands covered in the blood he was trying to catch as it dripped off his face.
"I need your help," he said, matter-of-factly, as if he was requesting my assistance getting groceries out of the car. Yes, I could see that.
"What happened? Tell me what happened," I said over and over, searching his eyes for answers, rushing simultaneously for paper towels to wipe his face and find the wound causing the blood flow.
"I don't know. I don't know what happened."
And then I remembered the moped scooter. A friend, away for the summer, had loaned it to him, and he'd ridden it that day. He'd actually owned one himself many moons ago and had ridden it everyday to work, an easy shot from our house to the office.
"Did you have an accident on the scooter?" I asked, frantic for answers.
My kids were upstairs playing and as I climbed the steps to get them, I prayed that they wouldn't be scared at the sight of their father, who was so clearly in need of medical attention. They followed me quietly downstairs and loaded themselves in the car, and as we drove we prayed together. Kyle, who had reclined the seat and covered his face with a towel, asked me, "How did I get home? Did I drive the scooter home?" I answered him, and then thirty seconds later, he asked me the same question again. Thirty seconds later, again. Then he changed his tape on loop to simply, "I'm sorry." He would later apologize to me around 30 times while we were in the ER, and I knew what he was saying. I knew why he was saying it.
When we were waiting for the CT scan in the ER, the details starting coming back. He'd been driving in an area where he'd pulled over into a turn lane to let cars go past, and when he'd tried to get back in the lane, the road was uneven and had caused him to fall. He'd landed on his side, hitting his head (thankfully wrapped in a helmet) and scraping up his face, hands, and arms. He said he remembered laying in the middle of the road, cars stopped all around, and a woman talking to him from a minivan, asking if he was ok. And then, evidently, while blacked out, he'd gotten back on the scooter and driven the final mile home.
I was speechless, to think of my husband in such a state.
And then he added, "I remember thinking that I just needed to get to you. I knew if I could just get to you, everything would be all right."
The doctor came in with the CT scan results and announced there was no brain bleeding. They cleaned his face and arms up, pulled specks of gravel from his stomach, and checked for broken bones. Nothing. The gash in his face had bled profusely but didn't need stitches. He had a bad concussion, but he didn't need even a stitch!
That night, we looked at the frayed jeans he'd been wearing in the accident and thought of how different this could have gone for him. We counted all the ways God was good to him in the accident: no glass on the road, no car ran him over, and even the fact that he'd been traveling uphill at the time and, therefore, moving slower.
However, the past nine days have been difficult. Kyle has been in pain and in the fog of a serious concussion. He slept away most of last week and continues to take time off of work as his brain heals.
At times, I have felt stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious about the future. But then I think of all the ways we have experienced God's faithfulness. I think about the people who have cared for me and who have prayed for him. I think about how his face looked and how he didn't need a single stitch. I think about those jeans.
It's challenging to me that Paul says to rejoice in suffering. Suffering, in the way we've experienced it in these days, has been emotional, jarring, and completely disorienting. It's hard to think clearly when you don't know what the next hour holds. So I don't think Paul is saying, "Be glad this happened to you!" I think he is saying that we should consider what joy can come in the midst of the pain of suffering.
One joy that has come for me is getting to see what is in my heart and how God is refining me. Suffering brings all of it to the surface, doesn't it? I see where I place my partial hope and it's far too often in my husband or my plans or the way other people serve me or a sense of control I think I have. It is a joy to have life instantly put in clear focus and see where true hope is truly found, and that is in God alone.
I'm not saying it's been all peaches and roses and rainbows. At times, as the sole decision maker for our family, communicator of needs, and primary caretaker, I haven't felt as if I'm doing this very well. What I'm saying is that in moments where I want to dwell on any bitter or anxious thought, I'm choosing to look for the gifts in all of this, and I'm finding there are many.
Will you please join me in praying for my husband as he recovers? Will you pray for me as I care for him and my children? And when you do, will you also pray for a dear friend of mine, whose brother also suffered a head injury last week and is in the ICU. His name is Will. I will be taking a break from the blog to care for my husband and family (and celebrate the marriage of one of the pastors of our church!) but will update you soon. Thank you, dear readers. I'm grateful for you!