In the ICU With My Dad

Well, this wasn’t where I was expecting to be today.

I have had the craziest last month: fighting an intense sinus infection and bronchitis and traveling and speaking throughout – to awesome churches in Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon, and Florida; a corporation in Baltimore; a school in Virginia. (That looks like too small of a list! I’m sure I’m forgetting someone!) I had a great time despite the coughing and wheezing, but boy was I looking forward to my upcoming three weeks at HOME! Yesterday, I was finishing up a long 8 days on the road at a wonderful church in Fort Lauderdale, and so eager to get back home to Jeff and the kids that night. My staff, seeing that I was desperately in need to “find rest” and NOT be a hypocrite as I release my new devo/book by that name, had cancelled everything on my calendar for today, so I could sleep in, relax, laze around, and get a few good naps in.

Instead, I ended up sleeping on the visitor lounge sofa in an ICU in Virginia.

I finished the final pastoral interview of the weekend at the 1 pm service yesterday at Calvary Fellowship in Fort Lauderdale, walked offstage, picked up my phone, and saw a text that my dad had just had a stroke.

The wonderful people at Calvary rallied fast, praying, packing me up and and driving me at high speeds to the airport so I could try to catch an earlier flight back to Atlanta, then grab a connecting plane on to Virginia that night. Everything worked. Delta was amazing, getting me on an earlier flight that was technically overbooked, putting me up front so I could get off the plane fast, race through the airport, and catch a 24-minute connection to the next flight.

Enterprise was amazing, going out of their way to give me flexibility on the rental car, since I don’t know how long I’ll be here. I drove quickly through the night to the semi-rural area where my parents live, and arrived in the ICU at almost 10 pm, to hug my daddy.

And that is when all the rushing came to a screeching halt.

It is amazing how something like this puts everything in perspective and forces someone like me to slow down. Suddenly, instead of bright airport lights, the low light of a room in ICU. Instead of a bustle of 400 women packed into a fun, loud, larger-than-life women’s conference, there’s a wide, quiet hospital floor with a few night nurses at the station and a lot of space. Instead of loudspeaker announcements, the gentle beeping of machines and the gentle whisper of my mom talking with the nurses, monitoring how my precious father is doing.

And he is doing okay. He is stable so far. He hasn’t had bleeding in the brain or any of the scary things that come from giving the anti-clotting meds they used. But he’s frustrated. He can’t remember the names of his grandchildren. He loves them so much. But he can’t retrieve their names right now. His depth perception is off. Letters and numbers don’t make sense at the moment. My brilliant, Ph.D economist father was impacted three years ago by a massive stroke and he has been clawing his way back. Now, a smaller stroke, on the other side of his brain.

And this the greatest adjustment for someone like me: dealing with absolute uncertainty. I’m a problem-solver. I figure out how to get stuff done. But I can’t do much about this. And the answers are all uncertain. What will the impacts of this stroke be? No one knows. It’s simply too early. Let his brain rest and see what comes back. When will we get the results of the MRI? We don’t know. Give it a few hours. When will the doctor be by to talk to us? There’s no way to tell. It depends on what else is going on. How about the PT and OT people? They might come by today. Or they might not. It depends on his results, and other factors. There’s no way of knowing.

For someone like me, those are very frustrating answers!

And yet. Those answers really do capture reality. We don’t know. There’s no way of knowing. We’re not in control.

Today, I’m grateful that our family knows the One who is in control. My parents had so many plans for their next few years, involving selling their house and moving to a retirement community near us. Oh, I pray that is still possible! But no matter what happens, we do not have to worry. We are uncertain but our God is not. And we’re praying for Him to bring full and complete recovery to my dad. And for peace for my mom and us in the process.

Shaunti received her graduate degree from Harvard University and was an analyst on Wall Street before unexpectedly becoming a social researcher, best-selling author and popular speaker.  Today, she applies her analytical skills to investigating eye-opening, life-changing truths about relationships, both at home and in the workplace.  Her groundbreaking research-based books, such as For Women Only, have sold more than 2 million copies in 23 languages and are widely read in homes, counseling centers and corporations worldwide.

Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge, is catalyzing a movement of kindness across the country and beyond. Dozens of prominent organizations and leaders are coming together to do The 30-Day Kindness Challenge, and encourage their followers to do the same.

This article was first published at Patheos.

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  1. hi Shaunti my dear am so sorry for what the family is going through now but i know you are a strong and brave woman,above all i know God will help you cause no situation is beyond him and no condition is permanent, remember he is the God of all man kind there is absolutely nothing impossible for him.please get time and be encouraged with phiilipians4;13,bye

  2. Dear Shaunti, I am so sorry your Dad is in the ICU. I’m a nurse and a Christian, and I will add my prayers to the countless others who are praying for him! May God give you His strength during this difficult time, and may He restore full health to your Dad! I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  3. Hi, there, Shaunti, I’m so sorry for what you & your family are going through. It saddens my heart, to know what good people go through. I know, you are a strong gal & you & your family will get through this. The Lord is standing right there by your side. You all will get trough this, because good people are stronger than any adversity that may come there way!!

  4. Fervent prayers for comfort peace and Gods strength , unity with your family , letting God show Himself strong . This is no surprise to Him??❤️

  5. Such a trying and testing time for you and yours…..
    Praying the Lord almighty who is fighting the battle for you, and who is victorious, will sustain you in and through this, for His glory !

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