God's Brave Women - Ashley's Story
I live my life like I’m in control, but really it's the illusion of control.
I want to be in control; I have plans I want to accomplish. I realized I was living in this illusion when, in one quick day (over the course of one night), I went from a healthy, high energy, go-getter to laying in a hospital bed, nauseous, exhausted, unsure about what was going on in my body. My life screeched to a halt, and all I could do was wait. Wait for more information. Wait to hear from the doctors.
After the emergency room assessment and MRI scan, we briefly learned I had bleeding in my brain. By now other close friends and family were gathering. But we waited for more information from the Radiologist. Eventually the Radiologist informed us, it wasn’t cancerous, (a relief). The thing that caused this brain bleed was a cavernoma. A cavernoma is an abnormal cluster of blood vessels. You can be born with it or it can form over time. You can have it your whole life without knowing it as it doesn't always lead to complications. But when it bleeds, that’s when it causes complications. There’s really only two options—leave it and live with the chance of further bleeding and complications or have brain surgery to remove it. The doctors advised brain surgery. As the doctors left and this new information settled, questions surfaced: Was this going to be the end of my life? Would I become a vegetable? Would I be paralyzed or need hospital assistance the rest of my days. The illusion burst—I wasn’t in control.
“It’s going to be okay” a well-meaning family member stated, but in fact, I didn’t know it was going to be okay, nor did anyone else. Only God knew how my story would end.
“It’s going to be okay” a well-meaning family member stated, but in fact, I didn’t know it was going to be okay, nor did anyone else. Only God knew how my story would end."
In the midst of all of the uncertainty about my present and future, I was grateful for the decision I made nine years prior, my freshman year of college. I realized I grew up knowing a lot of things about Jesus but I didn’t know Him relationally. That April day of my freshman year sitting across from a friend, Becky Beresford in fact, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. It wasn’t super emotional, but that one decision opened my life up to certainty in God, His unwavering character, His love, and His sovereignty. When everything else around me was changing, I clung to what I knew was unchanging. In the hospital bed, I surrendered and trusted in God and His plan; maybe this was the plan He had for my life. Maybe this is how He wanted to use me. Even though this all was a surprise to me, I found comfort knowing God wasn’t surprised by my current reality.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” ~Psalm 139:13-18
In His grace, God protected my mind before going into surgery from fixating on all the “what if’s.” God gave me great peace as I clung to two of His attributes from Psalm 62:11-12: God, you are strong. Lord, you are loving.
As I slowly began to come out of my anesthesia after surgery, these two promises about God comforted me as I repeated them while fading in and out of consciousness. God you are strong; you are stronger and bigger than my current reality. Lord you are loving; you see me, you’re with me, you tenderly care about me.
"God you are strong; you are stronger and bigger than my current reality. Lord you are loving; you see me, you’re with me, you tenderly care about me."
The journey to recovery was longer and harder than I ever anticipated, physically, mentally and emotionally. I was physically weak; I couldn’t walk on my own or bathe. Mentally, I had trouble with complex thinking as by brain was swollen. Socially, I quickly became over-stimulated and exhausted through conversations. These areas where I had found a lot of my identity before were suddenly taken away.
I waited as I didn’t know what God would give me back or what would become permanently lost. I waited and prayed (along with others in the body of Christ), asking for God to heal. It felt like my life had paused while others kept on moving. I slept and when I couldn’t sleep, I spent countless hours lying in bed trying to sleep, as my body and mind were exhausted. God continued to be my comfort, especially during the long sleepless nights of recovery. He saw me and understood what I was going through when no one else knew the pain and difficulty I found myself in. God was with me.
Whatever you’re struggling through, may God’s unchanging character give you strength, comfort and courage to continue walking through today – taking one day at a time, knowing God’s with you.
Ashley Dortch lives in North Dallas with her husband, Chris. She loves learning about culture, helping others feel welcomed, and having conversations around Jesus. She works with international college students through Bridges International at UT Dallas and SMU. Feel free to contact Ashley through Facebook.
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
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