Beep, beep, beep.

I remember the sound of my heartbeat monitor like it was yesterday; how it felt to be tied to the breathing and feeding tubes like I had grown two new limbs on wheels. Rolling that monstrosity of a beast into the bathroom, supervised as if I were a toddler trying to learn how to use the big girl potty.

I was 22.

Because of one wrong car turn, I had been in the hospital for the previous two months, fighting to get back to the independent, driven, and newly-engaged girl I was before.

I felt stripped down. 

Not just because I was in a hospital gown, missing my engagement ring and half of my hairthat type of superficial stripping I could’ve handled. 

Rather, I was stripped of my life.

At the age of 22, I had lost the ability to work, drive, see my friends, and go on a date with my fiance. I was no longer trusted to do life’s bare essentials. 

Thinking back to the anguish I felt from that room is still raw.

Every morning, I woke to the nightmare that was six months of recovery, wanting to equally punch a wall and sneak across the parking lot to inhale some Chick-Fil-A nuggets and Diet Coke.

Instead, there were vocal exercises, “How many BM’s have you had today?”, hand therapy, and walking on the treadmill at the speed of 1.0 which felt like an absolute joke. 

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Someone gifted me a journal to write and pray it all out since this was something I faithfully did before. My first entry . . . 

God, why??

I loved you. I was serving you as a campus missionary, for crying out loud. I read my Bible near every day and prayed faithfully in my old journal.

Why?

All of us have asked that question at some point in our life: God, why . . . did my friend die from cancer, I lose my grandpa, that relationship fall apart, are so many people dying from this bloody COVID-19?

A thought occurred to me I scribbled before the nerves in my hand started to tighten and lock . . . 

This, too, shall pass.

It’s something I still have to remind myself often.

When I’m struggling to make quality new friendships or grieving the loss of old ones.

On days our three little girls are at each other’s throats all. day. long.

As I watch my grandparents age and receive diagnosis on top of diagnosis.

While I sit in anxious uncertainty over what fall 2020 will look like.

This, too, shall pass.

As I looked up, light shimmered over the cross hanging on my hospital wall, and I remembered.

Christ gave His life for us and sat in His grave for three days.

For three days, his parents, his disciples, grieved the loss of their son, their mentor, their friend.

For three days, they thought they had lost Him forever.

But then, their grief passed.

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As his mother and Mary Magdalene found the stone before his tomb was rolled away, an angel said, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said . . . then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed . . . Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached his feet, and did him homage” (Matthew 28:5-6,8-10).

As they went forth from His grave absolutely “overjoyed,” they were also “fearful.” This residual fear struck me belted to that hospital bed. It still strikes me now.

The going forth from difficult times isn’t always easy.

There’s a fear things will never look and feel like they did before,

There’s unrest at how long the re-build process sometimes takes.

There’s uncertainty when the return to normalcy looks nothing like we expect it to.

But, more than anything, there can also be hope. A hope that does not disappoint because we know the end of the storyno matter how long it takes, no matter how frustrating or scary the journeyis good. 

My 4-year-old daughter just woke up and ran across our dining room to climb in my lap. As I type while she snuggles in this home we’ve built after walking through hell, my heart is so thankful for the other side of suffering.

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These things we didn’t think were possible from that hospital roommarriage, kids, graduate degrees, half-marathons, etc.have all come to be and, I think it’s an important distinction here, they look nothing like we expected them to.

But I wouldn’t have them any other way.

There’s a hopea peace in the stormwe find by looking at how God’s carried us through dark seasons, allowing us to trust no matter how bad things are right now, joy is on the way.

No shadow lasts forever.

The things that keep you up at nightfears, doubts, mistakes, longings for the past?

They, too, shall pass.

Ashley Stevens

Ashley Stevens is a speaker, writer, wife, and mother of three. While serving as a campus missionary shortly after getting engaged, she was T-boned by a Mack truck and nearly lost her life. They got married on the one-year anniversary of the accident to redeem the day and she writes to encourage those whose life isn't going according to plan at www.mountainsunmoved.com.