I handed the cashier my debit card, and she handed me my large coffee. She looked down at my arm and said, “Oh, I love your tattoo! What does it mean?” Excited that someone was asking, I explained that I got it after going through some tough times, to remind me of the power of God.
My tattoo shows an olive branch, referencing God’s anointing oil in Psalm 23. I shared with her that olives actually have to be crushed in order to produce oil, so every time I look at my tattoo, I’m reminded that even when we go through hard seasons, God is refining us. He can produce an anointed oil out of our deepest pain.
The cashier told me to have a blessed day, and I said, “You too!” and drove off. Pulling out of the parking lot, I immediately burst into tears.
You see, three months ago I went through the scariest moment of my life. I was at a Super Bowl party and felt a little weird. At 32 weeks pregnant, it was normal for me to feel a little “off,” but I was extremely swollen and out of breath.
My husband and I headed to the hospital to get checked out, and after a few routine checks, the doctors looked at me and said, “You’re not leaving this hospital until you have your daughter.”
Within minutes of our arrival, the nurse was transferring us to a permanent room, giving me steroid shots to help with my baby’s lung development, and placing me on medicine to prevent seizures. The doctors had diagnosed me with severe preeclampsia. For the next four days, I was bedridden—uncertain what was going to happen.
I couldn’t move. I had difficulty speaking. It felt as though someone were pushing on my chest. My body felt like it was on fire. My face was so swollen I could barely see, and when I could see, it was blurry with black and yellow spots. I continued swelling and had a fever. I was confused, miserable, and felt helpless.
Fears immediately raced through my mind: Is my baby girl going to be okay? Am I even okay? Why is this happening? This wasn’t in the plans, God! Zach and I were supposed to come to the hospital with our bags packed and matching family outfits. We don’t even have our nursery chair! Why are You letting this happen?
Despite this being the scariest moment of my life, I knew that even when things feel out of control, God is in complete control. And when I feel absolutely powerless, I can continue to put my trust in the power of God.
We delivered our daughter, Lany, at 33 weeks on a snowy Friday afternoon. I was able to hold her for several minutes before the doctors whisked her off in a little incubator—which would be her home for the next three weeks in the NICU.
I had to wait 24 more hours to see her again. For the next several days, Zach helped me back and forth from my hospital room to the NICU. Once I was finally discharged, I still struggled with high blood pressure and vision issues. It wasn’t until we brought our daughter home that I realized I was also battling postpartum anxiety and depression, and postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder.
So when I told the cashier about the meaning of my tattoo, I felt an overwhelming sense that God used her question to remind me of His promise and His power.
I was feeling defeated after everything I had gone through the last several months, but God reminded me that He was right there with me. He hadn’t forgotten me, and He is still taking care of me.
2 Corinthians tells us, “We are hard pressed on every side, but we are not crushed.” Even though I may be going through a hard season, I am not crushed!
If you’re walking through a hard season like me, I want to encourage you to take your worries and cares to God. I promise you that He hears the cries of our hearts. Pastor Craig Groeschel often says, “We don’t have to understand the plan to trust that God has a purpose.”
When we don’t understand, when things don’t go as planned, and when life feels out of control, we can choose to put our hope in Christ and remember the incredible power of God.