I heard my husband gasping for breath the other night. It was that awful wheezy choking sound that patients make when they’re just about to lose their airway.
I’ve heard that sound before – the one that has you reaching for the code button the instant you find them fighting to suck in air through an opening that seems about the size of the hole in a coffee stirrer.
Yes, that’s the sound I heard.
Coming not from a patient this time, though. This sound was coming from the other side of my very own bathroom door. In the middle of the night.
Most nights I sleep right through his nighttime ritual, never even realizing he’s come to bed. But not on this night. My sleep must’ve been light at that point because I stirred as he came into the room.
I stayed quiet in the darkness, though, as I watched him fumble his way towards the bathroom.
I remember hearing him close the door behind him. I remember seeing the light come on beneath it. Even though it was just a small sliver of brightness, I still remember that light being a shock to my eyes.
Just close your eyes, Debi. He’ll only be in there for a few short minutes.
I laid there waiting for that light to go out, to hear him fumble back through the darkness, bumping into the bed just a bit like he always does when he finally finds his way there.
But instead, that’s when I heard that awful sound.
I called out to him.
Before I could go flying out of the bed to get to him, I heard a very shocked, but groggy sounding, “WHAT?????” coming from the other side of the bed behind me.
Well, apparently one of the things that I don’t remember about that night is that I actually had fallen asleep again while I waited for him.
So, yes … the unmistakable sound I’d heard had only been from a terrifyingly realistic nightmare of a dream.
Thankfully my husband was absolutely fine – just lying there beside me the whole time, snoozing away. Needless to say, though, Debi was definitely not fine after that. And I never did get back to sleep the rest of the night. I just laid there thinking. For hours.
I actually know why the dream happened. I had been relaxing with some Netflix as I got into bed (The Office, if you’re wondering).
After a while, I accidentally hit the “back” button one too many times and I booted myself right out of the app and onto a local channel. The newscaster’s voice was blaring out to me how dreadfully awful the COVID-19 situation was, and how it was only going to get worse from here. Much worse.
There were patients suffocating to death without enough ventilators, and those on the frontlines – my brothers and sisters in scrubs – were being forced to care for these patients without proper protection.
That was the last thing I heard before quickly hitting the “off” button. I wasn’t really sleepy yet, but I just couldn’t listen to it. Not another word. And I couldn’t even bear to think about it anymore that day.
At that moment, I felt like the coronavirus, and all of the chaos surrounding it, was absolutely consuming literally everything, smothering my own breath right out of me. And I wasn’t even sick with it.
That’s why I had that terrible dream.
When the sun finally started to rise that morning, I fixed my coffee and headed outside to sit on my porch, thankful to actually escape that awful night. I sat there looking out at my back garden – so beautiful even in the early darkness – and I prayed for all those who were actually living out my terror of the night before.
They were still stuck there.
Gasping for life, for air, for healing, for freedom, for peace.
Either for themselves, or for those whom they watch struggle.
They all needed some peace.
I prayed for God to just show them some beauty as they waited. Some little something to remind them that good, amazingly breathtaking things were still happening in the world.
Even while this nightmare continues to rage on.
After a while I got up and went out into my garden. Recently we had been teaching our 3-year old granddaughter, Ruby Wren, about the amazing metamorphosis that would happen to all those caterpillars we’d been seeing on Mimi’s plants lately.
Thankfully, the last time she was over, she got to see this chrysalis that had formed on my oyster plant. This was just before we all became separated by this wretched sheltering-in-place.
Well that morning, when I went over to check on the cocoon, this is what I found instead:
The butterfly was finally out. Resting a bit from his epic fight for freedom. I sat there mesmerized, looking at the size of the butterfly compared with the size of that cocoon. How incredible it must’ve felt to finally break free.
And after just a moment …
He pushed off, finally leaving behind all his confines – all that had been hemming him in, not allowing him to move. Or breathe.
He faltered a bit as his wings found their strength …
… but he was free now.
Completely transformed … unrestrained and finally able to breathe and flap those incredible wings.
I watched as he fluttered away. Thankful. Amazed. And lifted.
I don’t really know exactly what happens inside that chrysalis, but wow – the results are stunning, aren’t they?
This incredible creature could never have flown like this if it had not first been confined to the point of becoming completely changed. Without this process, he was destined to be literally grounded. Stagnant. For life.
Think about it.
We don’t know if the process is uncomfortable for the caterpillar or not, but regardless, we do know that this tiny creature was kept safe – intentionally wrapped up and held tightly – through each and every moment of this mysterious, life-altering process.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
All these terrible, awful things that are taking our breath away right now – all those unknowns that are causing us to worry … or hoard … or have terrifying dreams in the middle of the night – do you know that we’re being held tightly through them all?
That they’re all part of the process of transforming us into who we are truly meant to be? Not who we were before these things happened, but who we are now as we stand in the ashes of what was?
Do you know that as we struggle against these confines that can feel so suffocating, that God’s grip is unwavering?
That he will continue to hold us right there until we finally, finally realize that this isn’t some tight, tiny cocoon we need to break free from so we can stretch and get fresh air.
No. It’s the total opposite. This is actually that place where we can finally be free to breathe. To truly relax. Enjoy stillness. And peace.
It’s called faith. It’s called trusting that the Lord of the universe – the Creator of everything both easy and painful – is sitting firmly on His throne. His plans cannot be thwarted, my friends – not even by a disgusting pandemic that’s threatening us all.
Our God is right here with us holding and leading each of us through our own unique journey. He doesn’t promise it will be easy, but He does promise that He will never leave or forsake us. Even when we forget sometimes and struggle against his grip.
Now go outside and find your own something beautiful to be amazed by. Remember that whatever it is, it’s a gift full of love from our great God. Take a moment and just enjoy it. Breathe it in. This helps, my friends. It really, truly does.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)