Flying Free of Guilt or Everyone Has Their Own Story

Posted on: December 18, 2012

A lot of folks are worried about me, about all of us, this week.  A beloved aunt drove up to spend yesterday with us; another loved aunt met us for coffee.  A close friend of Patrick’s – who is now one of my girls – arrives in an hour.  His best friend arrives Sunday.  Friends and family are checking in with tender notes of love and care.  Consoling words I couldn’t bear to read for the pain they kept bringing to my attention a year ago, I can now process with the same love with which they are sent.

I do approach this first anniversary with apprehension, though.  I see that I’m still emotionally vulnerable, but I’ve read that’s to be expected. In the day-to-day that means I can be having another “good day in a row” when suddenly the lyrics to a familiar song in a concert pierce me like a knife – “through the years we all will be together – if the fates allow,” and I am instantly transformed from a happy and contented soul into an unstoppable river of tears. Or, for no obvious reason, I burst into tears on a drive home from the grocery store and sit sobbing in the garage unable to go in.  And then – I blow my nose, wash my face – and have 2, 5 or 10 or more good days in a row.  I do believe my intense grieving was lifted on August 29th – that first good day.

In the midst of my healing and processing, friends all around are facing suffering and loss of their own.  One good friend dashed to her ailing mother’s side two weeks ago with plans to bring her home to live with her family, only to experience her passing.  She wrote this morning of her feelings of sorrow, disappointment and even guilt.  When I read her thoughts, I watched my fingers hit reply, and then rev to their happiest cruising speed of 100 wpm.  Below is part of what I shared with her that I think I’m supposed to share with all of you today.

Thank you for your prayers and love.  They have been felt all year long, and are seeing me faithfully through this next week.  With much love, Mardy

Dear Sweet Friend,

Have you ever heard my story about how I thought I caused the death of one of my best friends?  It’s a long story, and I’ve shared it in the moms’ group meeting and at workshops.  It turned out to be a turning point for me in not taking on false guilt anymore. It was 1993 and my friend had cancer.  The children and I drove to spend time with her and her family.  The children played together in her sprawling farmhouse, and in fields dotted with cattle and hay and wildflowers.  But, inside, my friend lay so ill.  I had to lift her into the tub to bathe her, lift her back out again, dress her, and feed her soup – she was too weak to even hold a spoon.  My friend had chosen the route of alternative medicine, and refused surgery, radiation and chemo.  She was on a waiting list for an alternative  medicine clinic that she believed would cure her.

One night she was so ill that her husband and I took her to ER. When they pulled up her records, they said she was AMA (against medical advice), and as compassionately as they could, shrugged their shoulders. Their shrugs said the answer had been surgery, but it was too late for that now. We took her back home and made her as comfy as possible.

The next morning, while she slept, I saw the phone number of the alternative clinic, and wanting so much to help my friend, I called to ask what healthy alternative meds or products we could use to ease her suffering until her interview appointment. They asked me to describe her symptoms and I did. They said they’d call back. When they did, they told her she’d been dropped from the waiting list.  According to the symptoms I described, the cancer was too far along for natural remedies to help.

My friend was utterly devastated. Until that call, she ‘knew that she knew that she knew’ she would be healed, and that God was going to do it His way, through natural remedies, and not “man’s way” of radical surgery and chemicals. That night she sobbed uncontrollably with what little strength she had, whispering that she didn’t want to die and leave her children. I sat by her side racked with guilt. Why did I make that stupid call? Why did I interfere? If it weren’t for me, they wouldn’t have diagnosed her without seeing her, could have treated her, and her prayer for healing may have come true. I felt like an idiot. Now we would never know if her choice was right or not, because I had “helped” in the wrong way.

I flew back for her funeral a few weeks later, but carried the guilt of my phone call and her separation from her husband and four children, all 12 and under, for the next 12 years.  I developed a drastic fear of flying on the flight home from her funeral and it gripped me on every single flight until 2005.  Poor Bill had my fingernail marks on his arms for every take-off and landing, and every time we hit even the smallest amount of turbulence.

One day in 2005, a friend’s wise pastor husband found out that I wasn’t going to accompany my teens, his wife and their teens on a short mission trip to Ecuador because I was afraid to fly.  When I called to chat with his wife, he asked me about it.  May I ask when your fear started?  Were there any traumatic events surrounding it?  Hmmm, why yes, but I couldn’t imagine any connection.  As I told him of my thoughtless actions in unknowingly alerting her alternative health care providers of her condition, he acted surprised, even shocked.  He said, “So, let me try to understand what you’re saying. You think you’re so important that you, doing something out of good intention, are able to thwart the sovereignty of God? You believe that your friend’s number of days were in your hands, and not in God’s hands? I am sorry to be the one to tell you, Mardy, but you’re not that important. You’re not that powerful.  Your friend’s story is your friend’s story. It is between her and her God. You got to play an important role in praying for her healing and comforting her in her illness, as Jesus asked us to do.  But to take on guilt for the power to change the number of her days through a phone call is power you do not posses.  This guilt is a trick from the enemy. Let her story be her story. That is enough.”

The dots that connected for me that day were in entertaining irrational conclusions to irrational lies (why should I be allowed to live and go home to my children, when I was instrumental in my friend’s separation from hers?).  I didn’t remember this being an actual thought-out thought, but rather a very strong feeling.

I was crying my eyes out by the time he finished.  Bill dashed to my side when he heard me crying, and I tried to nod “I’m really okay” while crying.

The truths my friend’s husband shared with me that day are the same truths that have helped guide me through the last year.  We each have our own story with God.  We can offer help and comfort and advice and prayer when friends and family face their trials – in their stories.  But, we cannot write their endings.  Each of us have own personal story with their God.   He writes the endings.Airplane Flight

You brought your gift of comfort and love to your mom at exactly the right time – not  the other times that she almost failed – but in her very last chapter. You played an important role in visiting those who are sick. One day you will hear the Savior remind you that you were really ministering to Him those two weeks.  But, you’ll have to wait for those words until the end of your story.

Keep blessing, keep giving, but don’t become a victim of the lies of false guilt. As my friend’s husband reminded me, as His child, you are destined to, and have the right to, a higher calling – flying free of guilt.

Love, Mardy

5 Responses to "Flying Free of Guilt or Everyone Has Their Own Story"

Thank you for all of your writing. I have admired & adored you ever since you spoke at a home school meeting I attended at Northland Church in Longwood. Thank you for allowing God to use you as He does.

love you Mardy. you are in my prayers and have been.

~Angela Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 15:24:57 +0000 To:

Living and learning is all part of life; so good to hear you are healthy, my friend! Praise God! Moving right along… ♥

“like”…I couldn’t find a “like” button

I am amazed how you are comforting others with the comfort that you have been comforted with.

Thank you, my friend.

Love you,

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