1st John 4:7
- Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
Last night a good friend of ours had a family emergency. We were in Church at a worship song service, and our pastor walked up front and told us someone was in great need of urgent prayers. One of the things I love about my church, is that there is no hesitation in dropping to our knees when someone needs it. I listened to many prayers including the prayers of children for this person. I felt the Holy Spirit washing over me in waves during this. This is just the purest form of love. People pouring out their hearts for the life of someone, and to many it was someone they don’t even know. It got my thoughts rolling.
About 9 years ago, before the saga of Fluoroquinolone damage began in my life, I got very sick. I had been dealing with a fever for a couple months and feeling generally yucky, and the doctors were running lots of tests and even checking my lymph nodes for cancer. They didn’t know why I was sick.
One night, my Mom and Dad in law had my kids and I was home alone. I was feeling awful. Super exhausted, and I could feel each heartbeat distinctly. It didn’t hurt, but I had a really strange inclination I couldn’t explain. I felt like I knew I was going to die.
This notion rested on me in almost complete certainty. I sat on my couch mulling this over. What should I do? This sounds nuts. I’m not in horrible pain, but I know deep down that something is gravely wrong with me. I prayed asking God to please forgive me if there would be anything between me and Him. I asked forgiveness of my sins and prayed for my husband and kids. I asked God to please help them in the case of my death, that He would be with them to comfort and protect them. I decided that I needed to just call my husband and tell him that I love him so much. I needed to tell him. Even in all of this, I had such a strange peace. There was no panic, just reflection onto my life and my loved ones. I wanted to make sure that I left things on good terms for them.
I dialed his number and he picked up. He was on patrol at work and I asked him how he was doing and tried to sound as normal as possible. I told him, I loved him and the kids so much and I was so thankful for them. My husband paused and said, “Amy, your voice sounds funny. Is something wrong?” I didn’t want to tell him, some because I wondered if I sounded like a crazy person, and some because I didn’t want to freak him out. He asked me if I felt okay. I just told him that I didn’t feel good. My husband has some EMT training and he asked me what didn’t feel good. I told him that I didn’t hurt, but every heartbeat in my chest felt heavy and prominent. He told me he wanted me to call an ambulance. I flat out said no and that I would probably be okay. I didn’t want an ambulance because I probably looked fine and they’d think I was overreacting. He got irritated with me and told me he loved me, but he hung up pretty fast. I sat there for T minus 4 minutes, mulling my situation over, before my doorbell rang. I opened the door and my Father in law was standing there and he said, “Aaron called me and he is really worried something is wrong. Get in the car, and we can get you checked out at the ER.” I felt stupid, but relented and got in. I felt dumb and mildly relieved at the same time. I got a pep talk from my Dad in law while we were on the way. He said, “Amy, usually when you think something is wrong, something really is wrong. Don’t belittle what you’re thinking, just tell the doctor what you are feeling and let them figure out what is wrong.”
We checked in and they got me back immediately and hooked me up to an EKG. I wasn’t having a heart attack, but something wasn’t right. They got me back in a bed and though I was laying still, my heartbeat was very fast. It was hovering between 140 and 150 beats per minute. Normal is about 80-90. They took blood work and while we waited for the results, the doc examined me. Of course because I’m a young woman and he was jumping to the easiest conclusion, he told me I was probably just having an anxiety attack and needed to calm down. (Eye roll so hard, I just glimpsed my own brain.) I remember looking at him and thinking, Great, my worst fear. He thinks I’m overreacting. Fabulous. So glad I’m about to waste 1 million dollars on an ER visit.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment that he and a nurse re entered my curtained room. The nurse hurriedly was hooking a new medicine to my IV, and he started talking. He said, “Your potassium is 2.7. That is critically low. We are admitting you to ICU. If you hadn’t come in tonight, you probably would have developed a fatal heart rhythm and died.”
My Father in law shot straight up in his seat, and at the same time, he said “What?!” I said ,”Huh?!” The doctor repeated what he had said and told me they had to give me oral and IV potassium to regulate my heart beat and they put a monitor on my heart.” I still remember my Dad in law looking at me with his eyes big. I remember looking back at him and knowing we both were thinking the same thing. Probably paraphrased, our thoughts would be, “Whoa! That was scary close.”
I clearly remember the whole first night in the ICU. I remembered some of it because the woman I was sharing a room with, coughed so hard and so grotesquely all night long, that I thought her lung would shoot out and hit the wall by the clock. If my low potassium didn’t kill me, I was sure going to catch whatever she had and I’d die anyway. I still wonder what happened to her. Anyways. I sat there processing everything of the night. That feeling that I thought might just be paranoia, was actually an urgent whisper from God that something was very wrong. I believe that same voice urged my normally annoyingly calm husband, to jump into action and I also think it prompted my Dad in law to pep talk me into getting this thoroughly checked out. It just wasn’t time for my face to face reunion with God yet.
A very distinct clarity rests on you when you think you may not have long to live. My only thoughts past myself and if I was in God’s graces spiritually, was thoughts of those I would leave behind. Are they going to be okay? How can I make this easier for them? Is there anything in my life that is not resolved?
From that very day 9 years ago, I changed. I may strike people as too mushy sometimes or sentimental or sensitive, but I don’t give a flying hoot. I need to know in my heart, that they knew how I loved them deeply. If you are close to me, I will randomly tell you that I love you, or hug you, or share mushy thoughts. I once sent my brother a text about how much I loved him, and he sent me a text back asking if I had some premonition of some sort that I or he was going to die. Hahahah! Sorry Caleb. I didn’t mean to provoke any anxiety.
The truth is that nothing else matters on this earth, as much as the love we show and give. God is love.
1st John 4:21
- And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brotheralso.
The only real true regret I’ve ever had about people, is when they have passed and I’ve wondered if they knew how much I loved them. Did they feel my love? Did I show it enough? Did they know that their soul was more precious than any earthly thing to me?
I find myself randomly overflowing and struck with my love for the souls in my life. I treasure random things about people. The smile lines and gray hairs coming in on my husbands head, that signify 15 years of the growing older together and precious territory we have covered hand in hand. The older he gets, the more I love him. The more the imprint of each other shows. The influence of years shared.
The way I love my children is profound. It drives me to my wit’s end sometimes. It compels me to protect them and cheer them on in tenacious ways. I feel a mama bear ferocity to help them succeed. I see their potential and all of their positive qualities in a way that swells me with hope and pride, and I feel their weaknesses and failures even more profoundly than I feel my own. There is a love that knows no bounds.
I look at my friends and siblings close to me, and I treasure the sound of their laughter, the way they furrow their brow when they are passionately expressing their stance on a belief, or the way they use their hands when they talk, the sound of their voice shooting out sarcasm with a brutally hilarious one liner. Nicknames given out of affection. The pain and love in their eyes when they share concern. Even the protection I see surface when they feel the need to defend my honor somehow.
I look at Aaron’s parents and my parents. I see their hair growing ever whiter. The lines forming from years of love and struggle. The way they say our names. The deep concern for our souls and our kids. I look at their hands and recognize that the same hands that hold my children’s growing hands, are the same hands that held my hand and steered me in the right direction. My heart can’t even contain the overflowing appreciation for their love, support and friendship in our lives.
How did I look to those around me that see me intermittently at church, the doctors office, at work, or even on a street corner? What was my face like? What did my voice sound like and portray? Was I kind under all circumstances? Did they know they are valued? Did I smile? What did I look like when I was driving? (This is constantly a struggle for me.) I try to never be mean or foul, but boy do I question intelligence behind the wheel…I’m still working on it.) Can we somehow just leave the driving folder out of our judgement file?
Luke 6:29-38 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thycoat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
No? Ugh…okay. I’ll keep working on it.
What I’m trying to say is that when we are about to leave this planet, the most important things come to mind. Where am I with God, and did I love people well? I think on these things often. In a bittersweet way, the death of a few close friends and family, has been a beautiful gift. It’s taught me what to treasure while my feet are planted on this earth dirt. Keep your eyes open today. Who are you privileged to love? Do they know you consider it a privilege to love them? Tell them. Tomorrow may not come.
1st Peter 1:22:
- Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: