Downpour of the Feline and Canine Variety: On Being Clobbered and Getting Back Up

Yes, it’s been raining cats and dogs in our neck of the woods. I’m trying to think of another cliche I can throw in there, just to pull out all the stops and show my writing prowess.  Oh, look, a couple more. Didn’t even have to try.

Well, anyway, our little guy had another seizure episode. I call it an “episode” to try and give some kind of sense of the gravity. But it’s one of those things that just is what it is–it’s scary and sad.  His seizure lasted over twenty minutes and wouldn’t stop even after I gave him his rescue meds. So, middle of the night paramedics and an ambulance ride to the ER made for the wee hours of Monday morning spent somewhere other than our warm beds.

Those warm beds were instead filled with vomit. Vomit from T’s seizure and vomit from our poor daughter who came down with a tummy bug at the same time.

And the following days of follow up, trying to understand why the episode happened again and how we can prevent it, how we navigate life with something so serious hanging about, always unpredictable, always potentiality. It’s like strolling through the fire swamp–will we fall in the sand pit? When will the R.O.U.S.’s attack?

Hence the cats and dogs in a downpour. After other emergency situations I have visualized myself responding to them with calmness and faith. Acceptance and a rational head. I have asked God to help me stay present, to lean in, to be someone whom our kids can count on, even in that moment when the visceral takes over.

And, somehow, that happened on Sunday night. I was calm, I was present, I was thinking rationally, I was praying. I think much of that was because Titus was breathing and his color was mostly good, unlike other times, even though he wasn’t doing well and clearly not “with us.”

But, even with all my sane thoughts, my perfectly following the emergency plan, my soothing voice, I still couldn’t keep control of my own body. About 10 or so minutes into it, I started blacking out. I calmly asked Tom to stay with Titus and tried to get myself to the bathroom and ended up falling on the floor once there. I stayed conscious; I just blacked out with lightheadedness. I prayed, on the cold tile, begging God to make me functional so I could be with my boy during HIS hardship–his real trial.

And thankfully, that happened. I was able to get up enough to put my head between my legs and  my sweat-drenched self was upright and working again in fairly short order.

Friends, I know this ordeal is a weird and personal thing to share–needlessly blacking out and the uselessness that ensued–but I’m doing it because I’ve had a lot of misconceptions about what it looks like to walk with God through a trial and maybe you do, too. If you’re like me, you think that the goal is never to hit the bathroom floor.

But, I’m learning I often don’t have control over that. I’ve got to rethink my goals. Instead of trying hard to keep control of things that I don’t have control over, I can ask God to help me lay on the floor in faith, not fear and doubt. Instead of worrying that Titus won’t be OK without me, I can choose to trust that he will be well cared for, even if I’m out of commission for what seems like a completely ridiculous physiological response that I haven’t figured out how to prevent. Instead of being angry with myself or God that I’m flattened, I can, in faith, get back up when it’s over.

Sometimes the cats and dogs are coming down so thick they clobber you. Or maybe they aren’t even all that thick, you just get nailed by one stray pup flying toward you. That’s OK. There’s still faith to be had, there are still promises that God is keeping, even as we’re deep breathing with head shoved below our knees. He’s still faithful and strong while we’re helplessly cold and clammy.

As a mom, I want to be there to rescue my boy. I want my hands to be supporting him, to monitor and protect him. I want my arms to carry him and my body to shield him from all harm. If only I were never weak, never parted from him, but even that wouldn’t be enough. Even if I was physically present every moment, in perfect condition, I still couldn’t make seizures stop or sustain life.

Only God’s hands are strong like that. Only he can be present at all times, never sleeping, never out of commission, never caught off guard.

And so, I offer the familiar refrain–it’s been the same my whole life: trust God. Trust him. Now really trust him. More. Trust him to get through each night. Trust him with the scary flashbacks. Trust that the fire is more than painful first degree burns, but metal made pure. Trust him that he’s got steps of obedience for you once you’ve been scraped off the floor. Trust that obedience is never meaningless, it’s union with Jesus. Trust God’s words and ways.

Facing trials with faith doesn’t mean never getting knocked down, it means trusting God when we’re horizontal. It means getting up when he gives us the legs to do it.

Those are my new goals.