This was one of those weeks that remind me that I'm technically dying, but today was a day that I really felt the enabling power of Christ's Atonement. I was able to go to the full 3 hours of church, and apart from very swollen feet, I haven't even felt too badly today.
Never in my life have I had so much reason to rejoice in the promise of the resurrection as I have now. It was this time two years ago that I was passing through the valley of the shadow for the first time, and now as I pass through it again, I look and feel very much the same as I did then -- except that instead of a baby in my belly, there's only a catheter.
When I was in labor with Sunbeam, I had prepared ahead of time a playlist of soothing music to listen to. It was something like 28 hours long, and we listened to the whole thing and then half again before she came. At one point on the second afternoon of labor (on pitocin, pre-epidural), I started to weep. My husband and the nurses thought it was because of the pain, but it wasn't. Frankly, the pain was beyond tears.
It was because Enya's rendition of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" was playing, and at that moment I felt more exquisitely than I ever had in my my life what the Atonement meant for me. It was as close as I would ever come to experiencing what Jesus did: passing through unimaginable pain and effort to give life to one who was helpless without me and whom I loved with my whole soul. I also felt, more than ever before, how desperately helpless I was, and how much I needed the power of His grace to save me, both physically and spiritually.
That was a very acute trial. This one has been more incremental and long-lasting. The pain has been less, but the exhaustion greater. I hope the worst is soon to be over, as I begin dialysis this week, but I know that more valleys will come as the years pass. We all have to have experiences that help us to keep our sights on the life to come. Pain robs death of its terror. If we felt completely at ease on Earth, we might not yearn for our Heavenly home. If mortality was nothing but bliss, we wouldn't value so highly the great gift of eternal life that Christ offers us.
When I compare my trial to others' tests, I can't say I would willingly trade with any of them. I have friends whose children have life-threatening diseases. I thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for giving this burden to me and not to my baby! I have a neighbor with four young children who just lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. He was 37. Thank Thee, Father, for my little family! I have friends who have come from abusive or dysfunctional families. I thank Thee, dear Father, for loving and righteous parents, and for siblings who are my best friends!
Thank Thee for giving me disease instead of warfare or famine or tsunami. Thank Thee for giving me kidney failure in a first-world country, where I can receive the best treatment available. Thank Thee for the comparative poverty of medical bills in a clean, safe apartment with plenty of food and furnishings. And most of all, I thank Thee for the assurance that death is not the end of life or of family!
I know that my Redeemer lives; that because of Him, I will one day run and not be weary.
Happy Easter to us all!