By Joan Endicott
Crisis creates clarity. There is nothing like staring your own mortality in the face to remind you of what truly matters in this life and what absolutely does not!
I was a happy camper on the sunny Saturday afternoon of July 28, 2018. I had just left my favorite fruit stand with a brimming box of freshly picked peaches, red and green peppers, sweet corn-on-the-cob and vine-ripened tomatoes. Now only three miles from home with my sunroof open singing along to praise tunes on the radio – all the ingredients for another one of those best days ever in this girl’s book!
Then something shifted significantly.
Though my vision was still clear, there was an odd prism effect in the lower right corner of my visual frame – like a kaleidoscope. Having never experienced this before, I alternated closing each eye to see if it was only one specific eye – it was the same effect for both. Since I was driving and wanted to make sure it was safe for all, I called Mark (hands-free) and told him where I was so that if I needed to pull over, he could come and get me. We talked until I got home.
Mark met me when I drove in and by that time my head was pounding in pain. I immediately laid on the couch while he brought an ice pack for my head. Our fully-windowed living room is normally a favorite place, but the light made my head hurt even worse, so I moved into our bedroom with the blackout curtains drawn. He brought me pain relievers and another ice pack so I could have one on the front and one on the back of my head. After a while there was still no relief, so I called out for Mark and he came in and sat on the edge of the bed next to me. Now almost in tears and my thinking confused, I tried to say something, but no actual words came out. It just sounded like babble – nothing was coherent. Fear gripped me and I grabbed Mark and looked into his eyes and tried again. What came out next was louder and more panicked, but still no actual words. Now I was terrified. Mark’s eyes revealed his fear as well, as he said, “I’m calling 911!”
“Is this it, Lord? Am I dying?”
As Mark was answering the 911 dispatcher’s questions, I felt God’s prompt. “Joan, just go – you’re only three minutes from the hospital. Just go now!” Then I felt an actual physical force guiding me up out of bed as Mark came alongside me. I heard him tell the dispatcher, “I guess we’re going to the hospital…yes, cancel the ambulance.” (I genuinely believe had you been in our room in that moment, you would have seen angel’s wings.)
Walking through the house to the car, I cried out, “Jesus help me. Jesus help me. Jesus help me.” I knew as my soul was crying out, even if no one else could understand me, the God of the universe did.
Arriving at the Emergency Room, the tests began and a specialist from Denver was called. He was on the screen at the end of my bed, asking us questions and taking me through a series of tests.
Then the doctor asked, “Have you had a lot of stress lately?”
The thing that immediately came to mind was the full-on rejection from a loved one almost a year prior. That was the one and only thing that came to mind. As I looked at my beloved husband standing at the end of the bed, I realized I was there because I had been too stressed about what another broken human thought of me. I immediately and emphatically declared in my soul, “OH, HELL NO! This is too high of price and I’m not paying it anymore.” Worrying and stressing about another’s opinion of me must stop now!
This is when I started diving deep into understanding and practicing self-compassion. Remember what a game-changer that was for me?
Later that night in the ICU, as Mark and I compared notes, I asked if my words in my prayerful plea were understandable: “Jesus help me. Jesus help me. Jesus help me!”
He enthusiastically responded, “Crystal clear! That was crystal clear.”
We also compared notes on the assistance we both felt as I was getting up and out of bed. He too felt that wonderful power beyond our own.
Tears fill my eyes even now as they did that night, my soul flooding with gratitude at the invaluable gift of once again experiencing the incredible power in the name of Jesus.
I’m grateful God never wastes our pain, tears or heartaches. Without question this severed relationship has been one of the biggest heartbreaks of my life. But we can always find God’s beautiful gifts wrapped in struggle paper and this is certainly no exception.
So, what was happening with me? At first doctors suspected a stroke and gave me an anticoagulant. Once this medicine is given through IV, the patient needs to be in Intensive Care for at least 24 hours under close supervision. With the very extensive testing the doctors did, they concluded that it was not a stroke, rather their best guess was a TIA (transient ischemic attack).
As is normal with any trauma, it takes time, various therapies, and proven tools to help us heal so we can move through and move on. Although my brain trauma, which one doctor described as a “bruised brain,” took much longer to mend than I could have imagined, I am exploding with gratitude that I am physically healthy and well. Additionally, the spiritual, emotional and relationship lessons I’ve learned are more precious than gold.
That day I received some beautiful gifts – all wrapped in struggle paper.
Life Lessons we get to learn:
- Do what you can to be at peace with others (Romans 12:18). Then give it to God.
- Create and maintain healthy boundaries.
- Pleasing others should never be your goal.
- Control thecontrollablesin your life.
- Stop trying to please the “unpleasables.” Some people will not like you no matter what. (Yep, it’s shocking!) Remember, even Mother Teresa had critics.
- Every moment of every day, you get to choose how you will use your time and energy. (Waste it on temporal or invest it in eternal.)
- Get clarity on what God calls you to and stay focused on that.
I appreciate Eleanor Roosevelt’s wisdom: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” The same is true for how we feel and respond to anything in life: criticism, judgment, shaming, unfair treatment, or false accusations. We can never control what others think, say or do. God gave each of us a free will. The great news is, you are only responsible for how you live your life – no one else’s. God will never hold you accountable for the attitudes or actions of your family, friends, or associates. It’s your heart He yearns for.
Your power lies in how you respond – which, by His grace, is always your choice and within your power. When it feels impossible, remember, He’s right there ready to put His Super on your natural.
“You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” — St. Augustine, Confessions.
Joan Endicott is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author of “I Get To!”® ,,founder of GIANT-Slayer Coaching and “WOW!” Women Owning Their Worth©. Her coaching reaches over 30 countries. Meet her and get her FREE videos, book excerpts and content at JoanEndicott.com. Follow her on IG – she posts encouraging words daily!