Every January brings mixed emotions to my heart. Five years ago, my dear husband became so ill he almost died. He had septic shock, a raging infection which caused all his body organs to fail. We found ourselves in an intensive care unit given no chance for his survival, all while our six-year-old, three-year-old, and ten-month-old kids were home with our babysitter. The situation seemed hopeless. If I’d known then what was coming, I might have just thrown in the towel.
This is not a post about that. Thankfully, God had other plans for us. I’m here to share five lessons I’ve learned in the last five years. My hope is that what we’ve been through can somehow help you, too.
1. When the going gets tough, the tough keep going.
Hard things will come, there is no doubt about that. Miscarriage, financial hardship, illnesses, death—struggles are part of life. But how you react to them is what matters. Strong people rise to the challenge. Strong women put on their big girl panties. That’s what I tried to do. I’m not saying I did everything right, but I definitely didn’t quit. I kept on keeping on. I had three sweet kids to take care of, and a sick husband who needed me to encourage him through his own struggles.
When the hard things come, it’s so much better to have an attitude of determination and motivation. Have a positive attitude. Be tough. Keep going.
2. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Can I just say something here? I’m not saying everything is always going to be all right. For us, it meant loss and drastic changes in our lives. Still, I can confidently say we are stronger now than we were then.
Whatever it is you’re going though, it won’t beat you. You’ll survive and grow from it.
Sometimes trials remind us what is important in life. They teach us what really matters. I’ve learned that material things are worthless. What is important is family, love, spending time together, and being thankful for the gifts and provisions we have.
3. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
When my husband was in the hospital, we were surrounded by people. Looking back on it now, it was unbelievable how many family and friends were there to support us. For the nine days he was intubated, I don’t remember being alone. I remember the brown bags of food and the piles of coffee cups people brought for me. I remember warm hugs and smiles and looking into the eyes of friends who cried as much or more than I did. I recall a waiting room full of family and friends from near and far who showed up to support us.
What’s my point, you ask? It’s simple: We are stronger together. I believe this to be true in marriage, especially. Two are better than one. When one of you falls—and you will—the other is there to help you up. By the same token, if two are great, how much better are three? Think of the role family and friends play in life. Where would we be without grandparents who help us take care of our kids? How many of us have friends who lend a hand? And what about us? Do we make it a priority to help others?
Fight your battles in life with family and friends by your side.
4. Love is blind.
Even at times when you feel unlovable, you are loved. I remember a time so clearly in my mind I hope it never leaves. My middle son, who was three years old at the time, noticed one of his daddy’s strange-looking hand splints left unattended. He quickly went over and put it on, a big smile on his face. The splint was much too big, but he didn’t care. “Look, I’m Daddy,” he said. Even when Daddy was sick, wearing prosthetics and rolling around in wheelchairs, he looked up to his daddy and wanted to be like him.
People who love you don’t see your flaws; they see you.
5. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
For two years following January 24th, I felt like our family was in the middle of a terrible storm. For months I envisioned the sun shining brightly upon us after the rain stopped completely. That’s exactly what it felt like when everything settled and we reached our new normal a couple of years later. We got through it, and so will you.
My faith helped me through.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3 NASB