My husband and I stood on the beach with our two oldest children. We had been looking forward to this getaway for months. We stood there, holding hands with our daughter and oldest son as waves rushed up the sand, covering our toes with icy water.
“Let’s go farther!” my daughter exclaimed. We shuffled forward a few small steps and now every wave bathed our feet in a mix of foam, sand and water.
With each rush of water, the giggles of my daughter and excitement of my oldest son brought a smile to my face. We desperately needed this time. I pushed my brain to soak in their bright smiles.
“Let’s go farther!” my daughter squealed again. We stepped a few more feet forward. The waves were hitting pretty hard as the tide went out. Every couple waves would start closer to shore and hold massive force. As we waded just a little bit father, just over ankle deep, the waves began to hit harder. I noticed the waves that were hitting Kris and I in the thighs were hitting against the chest of my daughter. A few big ones splashed water up into her face. She’d run away laughing then return quickly, grabbing my right hand and Kris’ left.
Then the biggest wave yet hit. It hit hard and our girl completely lost her footing. She flailed trying to catch her balance, but Kris and I saw the wave coming. We knew the force it carried and we rooted our feet down in the sand and tightened our grip on her hand. We didn’t let go. As the undertow began to pull at her feet, we again steadied our stance and held her up. We kept her from being overtaken by the wave.
Can I be honest for a moment? I feel like a little girl, standing in the sand getting beat by wave after wave. Our last report at the doctor’s office was a promising one, but there was one symptom that had returned. Kris’ doctor ordered a test to check the effectiveness of the treatment he is on. I pushed publish on my last update and not a day later, more symptoms began to return. The weeks that followed seemed to be a spiral down and on the morning of Kris’ birthday, we got the news we feared: his treatment isn’t working.
We found ourselves back at square one: the place we thought we had kissed goodbye and watched disappear in the rearview mirror as we hightailed it out of dodge.
I’ve spent weeks processing this. I mourned. We were starting to find the new rhythm. I cried out to God, begging Him to heal my husband. We thought we had been doing everything right. This is Crohn’s. This is the unpredictability of it all. This is why most people who have walked this journey will tell you it’s an 18-24 month process to figure it out.
We are back to square one.
I had surprised Kris with a few nights away for his birthday, and I’m so glad I did. We needed some time to think, rest, and break away from the stresses that seem to keep hitting us like those waves. We were gifted a photo session while at the resort, and the photographer captured the happiest moment with big smiles. I love this photo, but I know what’s hiding behind our smiles: pain. Physical pain for Kris. Emotional pain for both of us. I’m learning there’s always something hiding behind the smiles we see on Social Media. (Another post for another time – but know it’s true. There’s always something hiding behind the smiles; don’t let Satan tell you otherwise. No one has the perfect life even if their Instagram account looks that way.)
I wanted to post an update, but my heart wasn’t ready to admit the setback we were facing. We do have a new treatment plan. Once approved, we wait again. We are fully prepared that it may be another 4-6 months (or longer) before we know if this one is working. We are changing at home too: taking advantage of the slower rhythms of summer, using it to plan our meals better and creating even more margin. I haven’t lost my propensity for the positive, but I want to be real too.
I didn’t want to admit we were back to square one.
This past week at the beach wasn’t perfect, but we are learning to better prepare. My sister Lauren came with us. Man-to-man coverage trumps zone. We packed a ton of food so Kris would have lots of options that settle well with him. Kris had to rest a lot. We let the kids watch way more TV than recommended. We let go of expectations. We didn’t make plans. Despite the imperfection of it, it was as wonderful as it could be.
God continues to bring me back to familiar passages that have been my source of life on this journey:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:1-5
God never promised a trouble-free life. I have peace with God because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and I can rejoice no matter what comes my way. He’s using this journey in our lives and producing endurance in us that I didn’t know I was capable of. We have hope.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7
I can be thankful and rejoice while still pouring my heart out to God. I do not need to be anxious or worry, because when I approach Him with joy and thanksgiving, His peace is guarding my fragile heart.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
I think it’s interesting that this will be Kris’ third type of treatment. And like Paul, three times we have come before God asking this to be the treatment that brings his disease under control. I’ve never felt more weak in my life. The waves have come again and again and again. I feel like a small girl, fighting to keep my feet in the sand as waves crash against my chest and the undertow threatens to sweep me away. But you know what? My Daddy saw the waves coming, and He’s much bigger than the wave. His feet are rooted down, and He’s unmovable by the waves of life. His hand is firmly holding mine, and He’s not letting go. I may feel too weak to stand there, but my God is strong. We can’t do it alone, and I am so thankful we don’t have to.
We are in Good Company at square one.