Monday, October 5, 2015

Deathbed Priorities, part two: My own priorities change


I wrote about death bed priorities yesterday. My neighbor is at Hospice House and is slowly dying. It's hard to watch her go and even harder to watch my dear Sam grieve. That sweet man made his wife a priority sixty years ago, and he's kept her a priority every day since. Watching them has caused me to examine my life all over again.

As promised, here's a little bit of history on how my own priorities changed. I didn't really want to write this, but it kept me up part of the night, fretting about it. If I want any sleep tonight, I'd better get with it. (There's more to come tomorrow.) 

When I found out I was expecting Ryan, one of my patients said, "You are about to find out what real love is. In fact, you're about to learn about God's love, too." I smiled and thanked her and secretly thought I knew plenty about love. I'd been in Girls' Auxiliary in my church and memorized a mountain of Scripture. I thought I knew plenty about God's love, too.

Then, I spent five and a half months on bed rest because of my blood pressure. Despite the patients waiting for me in every one of my exam rooms, my ob-gyn told me to go home and stay there until the baby came. I could see the ones in rooms and no more. I was shocked and saddened. It felt a little like all my professional dreams evaporated on the spot, but I did it, because I wanted to protect this tiny child growing inside me more than anything else in the world. 

That little baby was too small for me to see, but he was more important than my career, my dreams, or my life. 

I went to bed.

It was hard. I checked out mountains of books from the library every week and read voraciously. I read every book in my house. There's not much else to do when you're in bed, lying on your left side. I read the Warren Report from beginning to end. I learned more than I wanted to know about Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  

I cried a lot.

I grieved for the life I knew that was slipping away. 

I dreamed of the life that would come, that little baby whose arrival would make all the hard times seem like nothing more than a moment of discomfort.

At last, the day for my C-section finally arrived. Things didn't go like I expected. I felt myself sliding into a deep, black tunnel. There was not a glimmer of light in the darkness. When I heard the anesthesiologist shout, "Get the baby out. I'm losing her," I realized I didn't just think I was dying, I knew I was. I'd heard about the light at the end of the tunnel (whether it's a true thing or not, I don't know). There was not a bit of light in my tunnel. 

I was terrified and I cried out. "I don't want to go to hell. Save me, Jesus." And He did.

I've never been the same.

When the nurse put that beautiful blue-eyed boy in my arms, I understood what my patient had said. I finally knew what love was and, in that moment, I began to understand a parent's love for a child. I wondered, "Does God love me like this?" No. He doesn't, I began to learn. He loves me more. 

It's impossible for me to comprehend that God loves me more than I love Ryan, that He loves Ryan more than I love Ryan. He does, though. The only appropriate response is to love in return.

Learning to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength became a priority and it changed everything. It made me a disciple. Loving my son became a priority. I couldn't save my marriage, but I've loved God and Ryan the best I could, and every other priority took a back seat to those two.

Both my Heavenly Father and my son are more important than my medical practice.

I know people have thought I was irresponsible and a little crazy for taking a break from medicine more than once. Think what you want. When a child weeps when he hears the ringing of the phone because he knows his mother will be called away, the thing causing that phone to ring has to go. It did. When a teenaged boy needs his mother to help him through the difficult journey of puberty and his high school years, she has to be there. And I was.

I could have made much more money if I'd spent those years practicing medicine instead of making pottery and writing, but there is no amount of money that would replace the time I'd have lost with my son. I know I could have touched many more lives in medicine than at home, but no life is more important to me than this one life of my son. No heart matters more. 

I set my priorities and I lived accordingly. It hasn't pleased everyone, but it's been worth it.

As we face death, it's common to realize we could have lived differently and probably should have. The wonderful thing about priorities is that, as I've seen over the past few days, it's never too late to change. Why not take a look at your own priorities? What occupies first place in your life? Is that what should occupy first place? 

There's one thing I've learned that has helped keep me on this path. When my priorities are right, everything else falls in place

Jesus tried to tell us, but it takes living it to understand."But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matt 6:33 nasb
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Here are the links to the rest of the series: The eternal destination, The Vigil, A Little Help from My Friends, Keeping My Word, and Deathbed Priorities

#priorities #disciple #JesusChrist #lifewelllived