As people, we want to control the situations around us, to make us safe. But we also have to learn, as we mature, to be able to discern which battles we should enter, and which battles we simply need to accept. Not accepting them in terms there is nothing we can ever do about it. But accepting that there are some battles we just need to leave to one side.
And the Bible tells us not to be anxious. But, it also tells us that, when we are anxious, we are go to God.
So when you have a month like we had – our November troubles – how do you find or maintain peace through that?
Andy B reflects a little on what he, and his family have endured, and how God so very evidently never left their side.
Just a thought…
So it's time for another Andy B 2 Minute Video. And if you watch these on a fairly regular basis, you'll realise there's been about a six week gap to everything to do with the BerryBunch. The reason being we've had kind of a rough November.
But this got me thinking about how, as humans, we like to be in control. And how do we work out what battles we need to fight? And where do we need to let go? So I thought I'd share our November with you. And then talk a bit about how God's been using that to help me become more like Him. How he's redeeming some pretty harsh stuff.
So, starting on the first November 2021, my wife was, went down with COVID. I went down the next day, our three boys all went down as well. My throat, as you can hear, isn't brilliant. We're still recovering, and we're into the 3rd of December, ao that's a month and two days, possibly a bit more. So that was a start of our November. We were ill for about 3 weeks, going into 4.
At the end of those three, four weeks, I was really starting to feel quite ill. And I just thought I'm not recovering like Jo is so I ended up having some what I now know are palpitations on my chest. So, I went to hospital. They said everything's fine, but you've got a lung infection. So, my heart was good, but I had lung infection. Very mild, almost indiscernible on the X ray. So, I had some antibiotics and they sent me home.
That was that!
Roll on a couple of weeks and I'm having much more severe palpitations. I go back to A and E, and they diagnose me with atrial fibrillation, which is a heart arrhythmia. Which isn't great. It's not particularly fun. I was in A and E from three o'clock in the afternoon, till half past one in the morning, when I got onto a cardiology unit. That was kind of scary. I was hooked up to a defibrillator, just in case, apparently for my ECG. I didn't buy that one either. And I had really nasty drugs to try and increase the pause in my heart, kind of like stopping it, but not quite.
Then I went to cardiology, and they put me on beta blockers. So, I am now on three types of medication. Blood thinners, we'll come back to that. Beta blockers to slow my heart and blood pressure meds because my heart rate spiked.
Also, in November, I discovered my strange father had died.
Also, in November, Jo was confirmed for a job that she was headhunted for, which is great. But now we're going to have to move, and the consequences of that, however positive they're still stresses we need to deal with.
Also, in November, I'm starting these medications. And they're really vile. And now I'm having to not shave because, being on blood thinners, which is a really good thing, so I don't stroke and die. As a family, I don't like a beard, and we prayed, and we decided that actually I should have a beard, because they don'tt want me to die while shaving. It's not quite that extreme. But hey, kind of need to make fun of these things a little bit.
So, I'm now on three types of medications, probably for six to eight months. I'm about 20 years young for all those things. And there's a lot I can't control. An awful lot.
I can't stop my heart arrhythmia from happening. I can't prevent it.
I couldn't prevent COVID At the start of the month. I, I can't prevent an awful lot of things. But they happen anyway. And how often do we as humans think? Well, we want to control the things around us. We want to control what goes on.
You'll now realise this is not a two minute video. But hey, it's been six weeks. I'll go a bit longer today!
But we have this desire to control what's around us. I can't control, my, my, voice isn't great yet. It's getting there. But it's struggled a bit.
I can't control my heart arrhythmia. In many, many months, maybe we can. The medications working for now. If I can lose a bunch of weight, maybe that will help, and maybe I can come off the blood pressure meds. And, maybe, maybe, maybe. But I can't just get rid of it. I can't get rid of the fear of having COVID. Or the lung infection.
I don't want to go to hospital and have a cannula stuck in my arm. It's bad at the best of times. But, when you've got heart issues, it's even worse.
I didn't want to be in A and E for the best part of eight hours, lying on a bed in resuscitation where people, next to me, were in really, serious, critical health issues. And I'm thinking well if I'm in here, and they're short of beds, I'm probably got a pretty critical health issue, too. I couldn't prevent that. I couldn't prevent them failing to get my heart to slow down with a syringe. Or with the really nasty injections into my blood to try and get my heart to slow down, and increase that pause between the top half, and the bottom half. I couldn't control that either. And I couldn't control the medications that I need to now be on, so I can keep alive and be well.
I don't like not having a clean shaven face. No issue with people having beards. Personally, I just like to have a clean shaven face. Now I'm growing a beard because it's safer than shaving. While we were out and about, one of the days recently, we, I cut my lip, inside. I bit it ever so slightly. 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. It's kind of a bit scary! But we got there. We sorted it.
But in our lives, we wanna be in control of what's going on. That's why I see theme parks so popular, because people want a little bit of out of control, but they know it's really safe.
Well, November for us was pretty hard going and yet we came through it with peace. We still love Jesus. We know He still loves us. There's some pretty rough things. Most of the things that happened in November, 1 of those within a year will be considered stressful. They think stress is probably the reason my heart triggered.
There's hope that I can get this under control. With medication, and possibly even without. And that'd be great! But it's not going to be now. It's probably 6, 8 months until I can get to an arrhythmia specialist, however long that takes with the NHS at this time.
So, I'm waiting for things that I can't control. And how does that impact me as a Christian? Well, really simply, I titled this one piece through the trials, because November was a trial. We're into December, it's still a trial. But we're coming past that.
BerryBunch stuff that we do, you know, we've got some activities planned for later this month. A Christingle and Crafty Christmas. We were chatting. Can we do it? Can we actually manage to do that. We're not gonna put ourselves under pressure.
I've got two weeks, I'm halfway through that now, nearly, when I need to do everything I can to keep my heart rate low, let it rest. And at the end of those 2 weeks, I can go and exercise and get it back to normal. So I've just bought a heart rate monitor to make sure my heart's good. I know it is! I can feel it! It's wonderfully peaceful. But we want to control everything around us to keep us safe. So, we can be happy and all those things. But there are things that come along, that prevent us from being able to control them. And as Christians, we're called not to fight everything that comes our way, but just to stand. And as we stand, we trust God. And that's really, critically important. As I come through this, I've got a phrase which I want to share with you, which I've heard in a film somewhere, no doubt, and maybe you have.
"It is what it is!"
I do have a heart condition. It is what it is!
I have to take medication, which I don't want to take. It is what it is!
We had COVID. It is what it is.
We're all gonna face battles of different kinds in our lives. But, as a Christian, my goal is not to deal with everything, or to control everything, but to give everything to Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Saviour, who I was singing psalms to, in that hospital ward, as they're injecting me with things to try and stop the pause in my heart, well increase the pause in my heart, it's terrifying! It's not fun! I didn't want to be there! I had to be there!
Thank the Lord we have the NHS in the UK. I'm on medications, and it's costing me pence really. I'm so blessed. And as I come through this ordeal, as we come to the other side. As my family learns to adjust to the number of things I can't do.
I can't shave, I'm not enjoying growing the beard, but better than dying, hey! So, that's one thing!
I can't eat an apple because I could have a cut on my gums. So, now my family have to cut an apple for me and peel it. Peeling is the one thing I do, where I quite frequently cut myself. So I can't even eat an apple without assistance. But it is what it is!
And I've got a really loving wife, and three fantastic boys, who are doing everything they can to help me adjust to a new normal in our life as a family. When we can't control things in our life. When things are blocking us. When they, we can't have a say over them, we have a choice, we can fight it or we can just be at peace.
I heard a great analogy. Karl Gesseler who's a wonderful guide from the States. He's a good friend now and he said "be a leaf on the river". And basically let the tide carry you. We don't accept everything. I had a really bad mood the other day, and my friend Olli, from Nigeria, we text and chat every day. It's great. I've got a really good friend in him. A great brother in Christ. But he said, Andy don't let mood swings affect you. You're a happy, joyful guy. Don't let your mood swing. Yeah, you're going to have that, and the meds are going to screw you up and mess you up, and they do. I quite frequently have a tired spell. A couple of hours when I just get really, heavily tired. I'm really blessed that I haven't had that for two days. That's good. But these things that we can't control, we can still experience peace. And I can tell you, having just been through a terrible trauma in hospital, there was still peace. It didn't end. it didn't go away. Why did that peace remain? Because I know where I'm going if I die.
Now this particular condition I'm told shouldn't kill me. It'll be really horrible. Get to hospital, all good. But it's still quite terrifying as they're trying to put needles in you. And injecting you with stuff to try and control your heart, and all of that stuff. But I still knew peace.
I don't say that with arrogance. I say that with confidence. Having been through a traumatic November. Having been through hospital, and being admitted to a ward in the middle of the night, being told you can only see so many people. And will I see my kids again? And I still knew peace.
And I desire for whoever you are, watching this, to know that same peace that I've experienced through one of the most hellish months in our, in our lives, as a married couple. It probably only comes close to losing our daughter, when she died.
I can't think of another similarity of, of difficulty in trauma. But we got through it and we have peace and I desire for you, whoever you are, to know that same peace. And you can, if you know where you're going when you die, and if you choose to follow the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. If that doesn't mean anything to you, you need to know who Jesus Christ is! Because through the traumas of all I've been through, through November, I knew God's peace. And that's worth keeping!
We cannot fight every battle that comes our way.
I cannot fight, having my heart condition. It is what it is!
There are things I can do to meet it, mitigate it, and med, use medicine to control it, and all that stuff. And there are a few things that maybe they can do in terms of surgery stuff, but it is what it is!
And I think, as Christians, and as people, we need to be more accepting of what we see around us, just as Jesus Christ accepts us as we first come to him, but also not accepting that it can't change, just like Jesus Christ doesn't see us as we are, when we first come to him, accept us. He then desires for us to change to become more like Him.
And that's my desire for you, whoever you are watching this. Is to knoew the peace of Jesus Christ, which goes beyond all human understanding, no matter what you go through.
I was terrified in the hospital. I was crying. I was sobbing. But, I had peace. And that peace didn't go away.
So, when you can't control stuff around you, we need to pray. We need to go to Jesus Christ and say, Lord, where are you asking me to stand? Where do you want me to surrender this stuff to you?
And the thing that encourages me from Scripture? Do not be anxious. But it also says when you're anxious, come to me.
So whatever burdens you've got, I know a God who's big enough.
Just a thought…
Written by The BerryBunch