I hate this place, I thought as I scurried down the too-familiar hallways of our local children’s hospital to meet a 30-hour-old baby with a heart like Annie’s. I took the sharp left turn to head toward the pink elevators and tried to suppress the PTSD flashbacks that suffocate me every time I walk that path.
My leftover lunch lurched into my throat when I crossed the route where I chased Annie’s stretcher when she was 4 days old. I swallowed hard and fast, shaking my head to eject the memory, and keep my frozen pizza down. Ugh. It doesn’t shake that easily though. I prayed, “Lord, I want to be here. You have to help me. You’ve given me an opportunity I wasn’t ready for.”
My thoughts were silenced, and I was able to hear a conversation happening in front of me. An older woman held the elbow of a younger woman, holding her up as she trudged each painful step. She crept along at turtle speed, obviously dreading whatever was ahead. She nodded intermittently, agreeing with the older woman’s wise words. “It’ll be just fine, dear. Because we can trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He loves us. You know that? And I don’t like it one bit and I know you don’t either, but He’s still good. The good Lord has us in the palm of His hand and there’s not a place I’d rather be. Honey, it’s time to trust Him. I know it’s not easy, but He’s with you. You don’t have to be afraid.”
And there it was, right in the middle of the place I hate: the truth. I don’t hear those conversations while cheering on the Warriors on Friday nights or shopping at Target or in the Chick-fil-A play place. We think we don’t need those truths when we’re in the Starbucks line or at the neighborhood get together.
But that’s all the more reason to love these hallways and the secret tears cried behind these walls. Maybe those hallways don’t have to be so hated after all. They’re not just hallways to elevators to ICU rooms with tangled, sick babies. They’re doorways to the heart of God. They’re invitations to sit right there in His lap, cry on His shoulder, and beg for His continued nearness because people like me that live stories like this know that’s all that could possibly get us through. Maybe they’re hallways to rejoice in, even though we’d never wish for them. Maybe they’re quite sacred after all.