What No One Tells You About Going Into the Hospital

After two and a half decades on this earth, I found myself strapped to a stretcher, my legs pinned down to keep me from kicking the cute EMT. 

Maybe an hour before that, I was in the emergency room, hurling my guts into a trashcan while precious Nurse Marco wrapped me in warm blankets and filled my IV with the medicine I so desperately need. 

Maybe four hours after the stretcher incident, I awoke to find one of my oldest Florida friends right by my side, tagging in for another friend who had previous obligations. 

For the first time in my life, I was admitted into a hospital. And my family was states away. 

But in those hours that are all now blurred together, I came out on the other side, incredibly grateful for surprising things, things no one ever told me about being in the hospital. 

1. Make sure your undergarments are comfy and breathable. I once heard you should always wear cute underwear because you never know when a firefighter will have to cut you out of a car. Three days before Christmas, I can’t tell you how many doctors saw my panties, and how grateful I am they were both cute and comfortable. 

2. Shave your legs. Sadly, it’d been about a month since I did this (it’s winter, leave me alone), and I was mortified as nurses moved about my body to clean me up. If you perpetually keep your legs shaved, it saves you the embarrassment of mumbling apologies to the kind man or woman who is keeping you alive. 

3. Count on the faith of others. Studies show patients who have faith are more likely to pull through a tough accident or illness. But I was barely coherent enough to form a prayer in my head, much less utter something out loud. But before I left for the emergency room, my coworkers laid hands on me and prayed over me. Two different pastors’ wives sat with me in the emergency room and in my hospital room. My phone was blowing up with prayers from around the world. In those fuzzy moments, I knew God had me because His body was reaching out. 

4. Man cannot live on bread alone, but a woman can manage on Jell-O and broth. Bread may have been the whole reason I was hospitalized to begin with, but Jell-O is a life saver. It’s nostalgic and delicious, surprisingly filling when you haven’t had anything to eat in a few days.

5. You don’t necessarily know the people who will show up. When I came to at one point, a new friend sat beside me. We’d hung out maybe three times prior, but she was there with a blanket and cookie pillow and socks and a coloring book. My daddy flew to me. A colleague’s husband–someone I’d never met–picked him up from the airport. My CEO called me. My friend’s mom, who is rapidly becoming a personal friend, joined me in the ER. Another colleague went to my home to feed and walk my dog. All of them I’d classify as lovely human beings, but I was incredibly touched when they stopped their lives to assist mine. 

6. God will show up. Y’all, I’ve stood on the other side of a hospital bed and watched a respirator mechanically pump my friend’s chest up and down moments before his parents pulled him from life support. I held my cousin while my family said good-bye to my great-grandmother’s lifeless body hours after her death. I know many do not equate hospital with hope. But, today, I do. God used nurses and friends and doctors and strangers to prove to me that I still matter to Him. In the pits of depression, I find myself doubtful of His goodness; but the moment I was hospitalized for chronic IBS, He was there. 

He was there in Nurse Marco who called me “my dear,” and kept my body as stable as possible in the emergency room. He was there in Mrs. Nancy, who dropped everything to sit with me. He was there in Heather, who showed up after my convoluted text. He was there in so many others, more than I even know, who lifted me up to Him. 

What no one tells you about the hospital is that it doesn’t have to be a dramatic life-or-death situation to encounter the Living God. 

I’m Not Where I Thought I’d Be

I didn’t expect this. 

Not the job, not the apartment, not the friendships, not the church.

I didn’t expect the crippling depression that runs hand-in-hand with my growing faith. I didn’t expect to spend my nights crying out to God, desperate to feel His love in the midst of frigid isolation.

But when you’ve been a Christian for two decades and run in circles that emphasize the Holy Spirit, your priorities get out of whack. Well, maybe I should say my priorities got out of whack.

In the last six months, I’ve discovered just how fragile — and paradoxically, deep — my faith has become. It’s in this journey that I’m writing to you.

When God gives you a gift, He expects you to pass it along. It’s doubtful most people think a major depressive disorder is a gift, but I’m learning that the emotions driving me can crack the most hardened of hearts because of empathy.

As I grow closer to God, learn to follow Jesus and trust in the Holy Spirit to guide me, I’m learning that I don’t need a shatter-proof faith. Rather, the holes I’m seeking to fill are precisely what strengthen me in Him.

In Justice I Am, I want to share with you my journey — the hysterical, the ugly, the painful, the redemptive — as I walk with my friends and community.

I want you to see the perspective of someone who has followed God her whole life and still has no idea what tomorrow will hold.

I want you to experience doubts in the faith that make you cling to Christ for answers.

And also, I want your prayers. I want you to pour your heart out to God on my behalf, and I’ll do the same for you.

I didn’t expect to be where I am, and no pat Christian answer will satisfy the longings of what my adventure still holds.

But if you’re on the ledge like I so often feel like I am, take my hand and we’ll walk these next steps together.