It was one of those melt-in-your-mouth, savor it, kind of days. The sun and breeze were what the laundry gods had ordered. Only our household’s chief laundry attendant, me, was out of commission. I’d had triple hernia surgery and was given very strict restrictions. Oh, you think I’m kidding? I am not.
I was not to bend over, not even to put on socks or shoes for 3 months. That chore, God love her, fell to Rachel. The surgeon told me that if I could avoid the chore of sweeping and scrubbing for a year, do it. I thought he was joking. He was not. I was not to lift over 10 pounds for a long time. I couldn’t look over my shoulder without feeling the strain of it in my abdomen. As you can imagine, my active lifestyle came to a screeching halt. And one of my most pleasant chores, hanging clean clothes in the sunshine, was ripped out of my hands.
I felt useless. My parents had been wonderful. Bob, of course, was still working full time and would on occasion buy groceries on the way home. The girls were doing a splendid job at maintaining the house but they also had school work to do. I would later discover that these precious girls would go off and quietly cry due to all the stress of Mama’s chores compressed with their full school load.
“You know,” they said, “we never realized how much . . .”
Wait for it . . .
I began to glow with the anticipated praise. How much Mum does. How hard Mum works. How wonderful Mum is.
“We never realized how much stuff Mum drops until we had to pick it up.”
Seriously? That was my daughters’ takeaway concerning one of the singular most difficult things we’ve had to wade through as a family? Lest you think they’re snots, they’re not. I am one of the most loved, honored, and blessed mothers I know.
Back to the laundry.
There it was: three hampers full and I could do nothing but look. I figured I could hang clean laundry but I couldn’t root through the hampers, reach to the recesses of the washer to pluck out the damp bundles, and there was NO WAY I was heaving a basket loaded with wet clothes. I couldn’t beg on the girls any further. They had to do their schoolwork. I was desperate. Then I remembered something.
A young woman from our church said, “If you need anything, call me.”
I picked up the phone.
“What are you doing, Mum?”
“I’m calling Kayla to see if she’s busy and if she really meant calling her if I need anything.”
Kayla did not hesitate. She came in record time. She rooted for, reached up, plucked out, heaved, and hung laundry. We sat in the sunshine on lawn chairs in between loads and shared the types of conversations women don’t get to have while inside the church. If she had any further reservations about me being lofty in a super spiritual kind of way, they were squelched that day. She realized we both had our own set of struggles, and she was not in my shadow as she had presupposed. I could be to her a friend, confidant, advisor, and teacher.
Kayla remained to me what I had thought. She was passionate, tender-hearted, a bit overly emotional at times (as if I never succumb to that 😉 ) and full of potential. I discovered that she could be trusted. She did what she said and said what she meant. I liked her. That day, with the breeze twirling our hair, laundry detergent wafting on the air, and smiles and secrets exchanged, a root of friendship was deeply sunk.
It wasn’t until this very week, years later, that I realized if I had not had that surgery, had not needed help, had not taken her up on the offer, we may never have reached the heights of friendship that we have. Suddenly, I applied this scripture to that period of time in my life:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
That experience was no fun. I trusted God, that He would perform a miracle and I would not have to have surgery. I vividly remember the day that I received peace concerning having surgery and I even knew what surgeon to choose. I also recall the devastation I felt when I came to and realized that the surgery had taken place. I had hoped, up until my last conscience moment, that God would miraculously touch me.
Good things did come out of it, though. The girls reached greater levels of maturity and responsibility. The LORD took me to greater depths of learning to let things go and trusting in Him. And He gave me a most precious jewel — my friendship with Kayla.
Maybe you are going through a difficult time right now. Perhaps you received a bad diagnosis, lost a loved one, have been set back financially, are in relational discord, etc. Maybe you are in the place that I was when I came to from that surgery and realized the miracle I so desired had not taken place. Maybe you don’t know where to go from here.
I want to comfort you and remind you that God truly does work all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I doubt I will ever believe that surgery was God’s perfect will concerning me, but God gifted me a beautiful friendship from the ashes of that experience.
I also want to give you a thumbnail version of what the LORD told Mum and she shared with us recently. Our sorrows, tears, joys, everything that we experience, it is hooked together like an endless chain of marquis shaped diamonds. It is beautiful and precious to God and He makes diamonds out of everything that we commit to Him.
I want to add to that a mental picture that I had while praying over someone. Picture a person being on their hands and knees, peering into placid water. Just beneath the surface is the thing for which they’ve been longing and believing. That’s where I think we are, all of us who have continued in faith. We are peering into those still waters with our answers just beneath the surface.
I hope, until you hold that thing in your hand for which you’ve been believing, that you will join me in reflection. Take the time to remember what God has brought you through, what He’s brought you to, and perhaps what He’s brought to you. Like me, you may see the face of a treasured friend.