It was the early 80s. I had been the director of a downtown business association and let go. It was a $20,000 year job which is equivalent to about $60,000 in today’s economy. I should not have been surprised. I was their fourth director in just a few years. The job loss took a toll on me emotionally and physically. I was newly remarried and had two additional young children.
I began to get sick. Most of it was a consequence of having a gastric bypass surgery several years previously and then more recently going on the Cambridge Diet. It was a near lethal combination.
Late one night Ray drove over an hour to take me to the hospital that had done the original surgery. I was immediately admitted and sent to Critical Care.
My electrolytes were so low that my muscles in my hands and feet were drawn in caricature-like shape. To get nutrients into me quickly they put an IV into my vena cava, a large vein carrying deoxygenated blood into the heart.
With dawn came the hospital’s realization that I no longer had the excellent insurance I had with the original surgery. Ray was given three days to raise $5,000 or they were going to discharge me.
All I heard in my head was $5,000. My life is only worth $5,000. Would anyone care?
Ray called on a benefactor who was a friend of a friend. He agreed to help if the surgery was necessary. However, when his secretary called the doctor’s office, she was told it wasn’t necessary. The gastric bypass was optional. That is true, but my life depended on this reversal. We were denied help.
That afternoon a young intern came into my room. Very curtly she announced that because my husband had not been able to raise the money, they were releasing me. She took a surgical instrument and removed the IV from the vena cava and stitched me up.
Then she said I would not be receiving meals in my room any longer. She gave me a meal pass and told me to go to the hospital cafeteria. This was a large teaching hospital and the cafeteria was quite a distance. I did not know that they had to prove I was ambulatory before they could release me.
Ray was about 90 miles away with five children. I was very frightened. He came the following day to take me home. Arrangements were made for me to be seen at another hospital but they had a backlog and it would be a month before I could be seen.
Before the month was up, I was admitted through the ER and surgery was done. Because of my weakened state, I did not quickly recover. It seemed there was an infection and fever but they couldn’t get to the root of it. After about a week, I was just too weak to keep trying.
God met me in a powerful way. (That’s another story for another day.) I did not die through His intervention.
The post-hospital time was shaky at best. I tried to operate a craft consignment shop, but I simply did not have the capital to get it up and going. In less than two years, we lost everything.
We went from a 4,000 square foot turn of the century Victorian home to a 900 square foot home in the middle of a cow pasture.
I had a lot of self-bitterness. I knew if I had not had that original surgery, this domino fall I called my life would not have happened.
Now I was stranded with no phone or car. Ray worked on the dairy farm for $200 a week less than five years after he had had a good trucking job with a stable income.
I was embarrassed by my lot in life. I wanted those nice things I used to have the nice car, nice house, all the symbols of the descent up the ladder to success.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He restoreth my soul.
God showed me that was what He was trying to do, but I would not. I wanted the things I lost.
I could not see the miracles of how he provided for us. I could tell you incredible stories of provision.
But I wanted what others had.
After a couple of years we did move to a larger farm house. Nevertheless, it was patched with license plates. We even took in two teenagers whose parents could not care for them. The mom was just not emotionally stable and the dad was newly married and the new wife had no interest in having the children in their lives.
All this time I am striving. God is providing, but I had no peace.
Finally Ray decided he need to go back on the road to get me those shiny things. Things were never going to change on $200 a week.
He called the dad and told him that it was time to man up. He was going back on the road and when school ended, he needed to come get his children, ages 13 and 14.
Less 72 hours before he was to arrive, the father drove to the beach and committed suicide.
While I am not responsible for his death, when I look back decades later, I can see now God often supernaturally provided for us, but it wasn’t good enough. I always needed more.
I took my plan and moved to another town where I had it all. However within one year, Ray had blown the transmission and the engine in his big rig and once again we lost everything.
Self-bitterness, bitterness towards God, towards our circumstances, towards the doctors and so many others had brought irrefutable curses in my life.
I began to seek the Lord for Him, not for the things I thought I needed. I began increasing my time in the Word and my prayer life grew in leaps and bounds, but I was still driven by emotions and torn what I thought others were saying or thinking.
Progress was not made until I began to fully believe I was created in His image and the Holy Spirit will enable me to fully take on His characteristics. It is now my daily walk.
Before that walk could begin, I had to totally forgive myself and others. There is so much freedom in forgiveness. I have been forgiven of so much. How dare I not do the same?
We can stay in our self-righteousness or we can forgive, let go and walk after Him. Unforgiveness is a prison. Following after Him, forgiving and loving unconditionally is freedom.