Have you ever seen answer to prayer unfolding, a masterful solution, so timely, so beautiful, that it took your breath away? Then just as quickly as it all came together, it unraveled. That perfect plan turned out to be an oasis, an optical illusion.
Those are the times that truly try our souls and force us to exercise complete faith in God whether we feel like it or not. Those are the times we lay down all our expectations and pick up His will - whether we feel like it or not.
My last blog post began the story of one of those times in my life. The rest of the story is below:
Plodding Through Muddy Waters (part two)
Soon after my stateside arrival, my mom and I traveled to Duke Medical Center where we met with its legendary kidney transplant team. After a battery of preliminary tests, they were ready to do an ultrasound on my kidneys. It was during the ultrasound that God spoke loudly and clearly. An almost inaudible grunt from the technician was heard as he shifted his feet and sighed. The probe hovered over the same spot for another minute before he lay it down, telling me to lie still; he would be right back. He left me reclining on the white sheets with medical equipment humming softly around me. I had no understanding of what he had found that would send him to find one of the doctors.
Eventually, two surgeons came in, looked at the ultrasound monitor, spoke quietly to each other as they took pictures from several different angles of my left kidney. Before long, all three men exited the room; I was again left alone. After ten agonizing minutes, the door opened and an entourage of white coats took up every space in the small room. This is a teaching hospital, I kept reminding myself - to dispel the panic I felt running through my bloodstream. They spent about four minutes pointing at the screen and fielding questions from some of the other white coats in the room. Intrigued that my kidney would be getting so much attention, that quickly switched to concern when I was asked to have a CatScan performed on my left kidney. A suspicious spot had been detected on the ultrasound image, and they wanted to see it more clearly. They told me that I should not worry. At all. Yea, don’t they always say that?
Of course, I agreed to do it, and was promptly wheeled into the CatScan area. After all the procedure, I met with two of the surgeons in a generic office as they described what they had found. My right kidney was very healthy, but on my left kidney was a slight 9 millimeter benign fatty tumor. Most likely it would never give me trouble and probably had been there for some time, nonetheless; because of it, I could not give my brother a kidney. Not understanding why, if the tumor was benign and probably harmless, they were rejecting me as a candidate to give my brother a kidney, I kept pushing for more clarification. They explained it was because of medical ethics. I honestly had quit listening to their technical explanations and could only see my sweet brother’s face. In a last ditch effort, with tears in my eyes and a tremble to my voice, I pleaded, “Well, just give my brother the kidney with the tumor! He doesn’t care! If it’s not going to bother me, then it shouldn’t bother him. Please, doctors. Don’t shut the door on this. Please.” As soundly as I was begging them for a reprieve, they did shut the door on our hopes. They gave me all the patented answers. I wanted to hurl the closest potted plant at their faces. Blame them for the disappointment. Eddie’s future looked bleak without a transplant. Could they not see that? Did they not care?
Walking blindly out of the office, I found a bathroom, needing some time before I would have to face my mother and tell her what they had found. I felt like a failure, like it was totally my fault for harboring the ridiculous tumor and chiding myself for not taking better care of my kidneys. Grief and loss brings all kind of emotions and irrational thoughts. Denial. Anger. Disillusionment. Bargaining. Where was God? He could take this silly fatty tumor away! He could. If it was part of His plan. Yes, He could. But He did not...and that was also part of His plan.
As I found my mother flipping through a magazine in the waiting room, she looked at my face. Before I said a word, she knew that the tests had not gone well. I fell into her arms and blubbered my way through the explanations though I could not look her in the eye. I felt so ashamed for letting her and Eddie down. After gaining my composure, my mother and I walked quietly back to the car; each lost in her own thoughts about what had just happened and what it meant for Eddie’s future. God had answered. He had said NO. We called my brother, telling him everything. He honestly seemed to take it better than either of us. Eddie had given God his life many years ago and was determined to live smack dab in the middle of the faith God was teaching him to embrace. I was not feeling too spiritual at the time. Disappointed with God’s clear answer, exhausted from the surging emotions of the day, I slept most of the way back home. Within a few days, I flew back to be with my little family waiting in Jamaica. Life, though, had changed. Without a transplant, Eddie had very few years left on this earth. It took me a long time to let go and believe it was not my fault. That God was good all the time. All the time, He was good.