I’ve been a little more silent on the blog and social media this Lent but probably not for the reasons you’d imagine.
Prior to the start of this holy season, I had great ambition to stop wasting time on things that weren’t the immediate will of God in front of me. This meant my phone would be out of my hands most of the day. I’d be present to my kids and the household duties. I would pray more, read more, and be less distracted. I had decided my Lenten fast would be to not check my personal Facebook page at all. I was ready.
This desire was the result of a quote by St. John of the Cross that’s been tugging at me for years. A bird can be held by a chain or by a thread, still it cannot fly.
Whenever I read this quote I would think of all the little ways my heart is tied to this earth. Things I’m attached to. Ways I prefer human comforts or relationships over communion with Jesus. And this Lent I wanted it to be different. I wanted to stop saying to myself it’s just.
It’s just five minutes on Facebook…
It’s just two more bites of ice cream…
It’s just one more Netflix show before bed…
But the bird still can’t fly.
And all while I was preparing and ready for this detachment that I would accomplish, we had a life threatening emergency in our family.
At the tail end of a virus that swept through the house, our one-week-shy-of-being-four year old wasn’t getting better. He kept complaining of tummy pain on and off, until one day it was non-stop and he didn’t want to even walk. So we rushed him to our children’s walk-in ER. After tests and scans, it was determined that he had appendicitis and he was transported downtown for surgery.
It was scary for him and for us. I needed people praying. I needed a lot of people praying. So I hopped on Facebook and begged friends to lift up our little guy and the doctors. And miracles started happening.
When they got in there, his appendix had ruptured and the infection was everywhere. They had originally planned for morning surgery. I can’t even fathom the outcome if they had tried waiting until the morning since there’s no telling how long it had been ruptured at that point. They changed their minds pretty much as soon as I had posted the prayer request.
When they were doing the surgery they found a congenital ligament that is supposed to disappear before birth. It’s extremely rare and there’s no test for it or symptoms to know a person has it. The danger is that later in life it can randomly start wrapping around the intestine tightly and cause serious complications. After surgery, the doctor turned to my husband and said “I don’t know if you’re a praying man, but there’s a reason your son came in here this young to get his appendix out and we found this ligament.”
(This is my own speculation and I’m happy to be proven wrong by someone more knowledgeable.) They did a laparoscopic surgery rather than the classic way cutting at the site of the appendix. This meant they entered the abdomen at the belly button and the camera had to make its way to the appendix. This is how they encountered the ligament. Had they done a typical appendectomy I don’t think it would have been possible for them to find the ligament and fix that problem.
I need another post for it, but I’ll let you know his birth story also has a miracle in it. God has big plans for him, I’m certain. Because he’s here. Alive. With us. Healing. On too many antibiotics but that’s okay, he made it!
We picked my husband and the little guy up two days before Ash Wednesday and we have just been recovering from the stress of it all since then. I’m now finally just processing a lot of what happened. It’s incredible and terrifying. And that’s how my Lent started.
As I’m processing and praying, I am getting a better picture of what God really intended for me this Lent and the meaning of that quote for me. A bird can be held by a chain or by a thread, still it cannot fly.
My sweet little four year old had to endure the pain of a ruptured appendix, surgery, and recovery. Wouldn’t that normally seem unfair and harsh to us? Why would God allow something like that? Yet because of that journey of pain and suffering they found a ligament that could have been even more dangerous later on. It was just a small ligament. Just… but so many more terrible things could have happened because it was hanging on. It wasn’t that small once we understood it’s terrible power.
And after it all, instead of seeming unfair, it seemed unimaginably merciful. How good of a God do we have that He allowed that suffering that would end in a miracle? How often do I hyper focus on the suffering at hand and lack trust? Isn’t that the entire journey of Lent summed up? To walk with Him to the cross, filled with trust that Easter will somehow come despite the darkness in front of us?
I understand now that Lent this year is meant to be a sort of surgery for my soul. A time of intense prayer and fasting to allow my heart to be opened up. The Divine Healer wants to begin His good work in me and it’s time to surrender. And I’m sure He’s gonna find parts of me I don’t want to hear about that need fixing. There’s going to be threads and probably thick ropes that need cutting. The point is to let Him and to have trust.
It’s about more than simply not logging in to Facebook for a few weeks. Facebook can be used for good. The miracles that happened and support we received through this whole experience thanks in a large part to online connections showed me that.
The thread is deeper. What causes me to waste time on Facebook? What causes me to say it’s just? That’s what needs to be cut. And that’s what I’m letting God show me this Lent. Then whatever He finds, to let Him fix that.
It’s not just another Netflix show. It’s a heart that has grown lukewarm and would rather check out than spend the last 27 minutes of my day in prayer.
It’s not just two more scoops of ice cream. It’s a soul that has forgotten how to arm herself for battle through prayer and fasting.
It’s not just a thread.
It wasn’t just a ligament in my son.
The small things are big things when it comes to divine love.