Over the last couple of weeks I have found out what it is like to have major surgery. There has been pain… which has affected me on not just a physical level but mentally and spiritually as well. The fact is, going under the knife has a unique way of slicing through the unimportant stuff and forces one to consider what is really important and what is not. There is also an overwhelming sense of powerlessness, a recognition that you cannot do all those things that you take for granted, and having to accept that I am no longer in control.
At this point the key to my survival is trust. I have faith that the doctors have made the right diagnosis, and that they took the right kidney and not the wrong one! I have to trust the nursing staff to look after my physical needs and relax in the knowledge that my body has what it takes to continue the healing process… even when it hurts! The biochemist in my brain tells me that one kidney can handle things, though the other voices in my brain voice their doubts, I choose to remain positive.
In my role as a chaplain and a pastor I have spent many hours in hospitals, visiting, supporting, encouraging and just being there, but this is the first time I have been on the receiving end! A humbling experience… in which the support of family, friends and colleagues has been tremendous… thanks… though some of those visits are just a vague blur. The doctors and nurses at Nepean Private did a great job, and I am now home (at Woonona) trying to get my body and soul back together.
So, where is God in all this? The why questions are still there as well, but out of that confusion I was reminded of a quote from Helen Keller (who had more than her share of trials and struggles being both deaf and blind) who was able to write this:
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet,
only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened,
vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”
Without doubt this experience has deeply affected me, I hope my soul has been strengthened, and I have definitely learned to rely more on God. My vision of the future is still somewhat blurred, but I still firmly believe that God is in control and that he still has a plan for my future whatever the RAAF MEC board says.
As the old hymn says:
I do not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future
……..and that makes all the difference!
Chaplain Ian Whitley