“I’m going to the ER.” Those words usually strike panic, but for me, they brought relief on that Monday morning in July. It had been five months since my husband, Kristofer, had begun to not feel well. Five months of sickness, weight loss, low energy and a slew of other symptoms that just didn’t add up. I didn’t doubt that the ER was the right choice, and when the ER Doctor looked at him and said, “Something isn’t right. This is not normal, and we are going to figure it out,” I was instantly filled with a supernatural peace. I can’t explain it. I just knew God had us and had us here.
This is our journey… my coming out story. Because as I’ve walked these last few months, God has continually brought me back to the importance of our stories and not hiding what we are going through. It’s not a way to get sympathy or have people feel sorry for us; it’s a way for us to use our lives to point people to Jesus. I’ll share more here as we journey how He is growing Kris and I and moving in our lives as we walk through this, but I’ll preface the rest of this post with this: our story isn’t done. There isn’t a pretty little bow at the end. We are still very much in the thick, in the valley, in the day-to-day battle, but God is right here with us.
When we checked into the ER that Monday, I had no idea we would still be there Friday. Test after test came back clear. Great news… Except we still didn’t know what was wrong. I started to lose count on how many vials of blood they drew. It was so hard to watch the man you love more than any other human get pricked again and again and again. People asked me how I was really doing, and I could honestly answer fine. I felt guilty answering that way, but I was there to get my husband back. I was there to figure out what has been ailing him for months. And each Doctor that came in and said “we will figure this out. There’s definitely something wrong”, fueled my peace in being there.
I really can’t explain it in any other way other than the fact that God had truly wrapped himself around us. I’ve been going through Priscilla Shirer’s “Armor of God” and I don’t think it was by accident. The week before all this happened, we delved into the shoes fitted with gospel of peace (Ephesian 6:15). The key to unlocking His peace (which is His gift to us at salvation) is thankfulness. I was armored up. I truly had so much to be thankful for here: we had a HUGE room! We had a private room. We had assurance from doctors that this was the right course of action. Just a week before this, I minimally tore my tendon in my ankle and was wearing one of those fashionable boots. But instead of chasing three kids around, I spent a week with it propped up in a hospital room. We had friends who said “lean on us,” and we did. Friends brought food, coffee, treats, hugs, games.
One was my dear friend, Stacey, who walked this path over the last 12 months with her daughter. She brought me coffee with an extra shot and vanilla scones. She kidnapped me, parked under a gorgeous old oak tree and just let me be real. It was the first time I tears welled in my eyes. She poured so much wisdom and grace into me and allowed me to just talk… About whatever I needed to. On that Monday, she said she felt like this was so similar to her daughter’s journey. She just felt in her gut that Kris had a similar issue. When she dropped me back off, my heart was refreshed and my strength was renewed.
The next day we readied for another day of tests… This time invasive ones. I held it together; I still hadn’t cried. But then they wheel your husband away, and you can’t hold the tears back anymore. I waited, made small talk, read a book and checked the board again. In my heart, I prayed. It may sound weird, but I didn’t feel like I needed to pray much…. Kinda like I just knew God was here, that He was protecting us, that we were going to get the answers we needed. Plus, there was an army of friends and family on their knees. They were filling in the gaps.
An hour passed.
“Mrs. Warren? He’s waking up. You can come see him now.” I kept my phone handy, laughing and documenting all the funny things he said. My sisters know that the best way to get my husband to do funny things is giving him sugar. He’s even funnier on anesthesia. And while I was laughing about his sadness over not dreaming about unicorns and rainbows, the doctor walked around the curtain and just dropped the bomb: “Mr. Warren, you have Crohn’s disease.” I honestly felt the tears well up and my knees start to give in. I forced my mind to pay attention to what the doctor said. Words like “significant case” and “aggressive treatment”. I had to be brave again. I had to keep my loopy husband in check and focus my brain and dig to find out what this all meant. We began to tell people over the next couple hours and with each one, it began to sink in. And the words from my sweet friend hit hardest: “Erin, he’s super sick.” But “He’s going to live. Well.” This was truth my sweet positive nature needed to hear. As it turns out, she was right all along. Kris had a similar condition as her daughter. I really appreciated her honesty, and I know that it was not by accident that God had brought her into my life. She told her story, even in the mess, and now we were journeying together.
Kris and I are now three months into this journey, and I can honestly say this has been the hardest season I’ve ever walked. But God is good, and He is writing a beautiful new story for Kris, our family and me. This wasn’t what we expected, but we trust Him. Thank you for journeying with us.