God’s Faithfulness Through My DARKEST Night
Written by Marjorie Shull
Many of you are aware of the traumatic season my husband, John, and I went through when we lost my parents. Many have wondered how I am doing and how I have made it through…. how I seem to be doing well so quickly. I have decided to write my story as a testament of God’s faithfulness. I am writing this to give God glory for His miraculous work during the DARKEST time of my life and to possibly help someone else who might be going through a trying time.
If you are dealing with a loss, or anything tragic, and feel like you can’t bear it any longer…. hold on. God will see you through.
Most of you know that John and I lived with my parents for 2 years and 10 months while being their caregivers. My mama was sick for fifteen (15) years and my father took care of her, while dealing with his own health issues. The last several years, my daddy also had a home health care agency coming in a couple times a week to help.
Our caregiving journey began the night of December 25, 2011. John and I visited my parents’ house Christmas morning, as his side of the family would be gathering at Ernest and Mimi’s house (John’s maternal grandparents) for our traditional Christmas dinner. While at my parents’ house, it was obvious my father wasn’t doing well. We were concerned, so we excused ourselves early from the Christmas dinner to return to my parents’ house and check on them.
Upon arrival, we discovered my father had injured himself. John bandaged him up and we decided to spend the night. I stayed awake for as long as physically possible to keep an eye on Daddy until I fell out at 3:00 am.
On December 26, 2011, I awoke to a representative from the home health agency telling me that she found my father passed out on the front porch. Guilt immediately began flooding my mind. I thought that if I had just stayed up, I could have prevented this from happening.
The health care representative helped my father into the house. We called 911.
And our journey began……
John and I thought that Daddy would only be in the hospital for a couple of days and then be released to go home. We stayed at their house to take care of Mama. Then, we received news from the doctor that it was a case of DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis), as well as other complications. The doctor explained that for my father to live, they had to do a procedure that he may or may not survive. They would have to cut off his breathing for a time. John and I spoke with Mama and released the doctors to do whatever they had to do to save Daddy’s life.
What we thought would be a two-day hospital stay turned into three weeks, followed by the news that Daddy could not be released to go home in his condition. The DKA had affected his mental state to the point that he was unable to function normally or care for himself. My father had to be released to an institution to be rehabilitated and regain his strength.
I was in shock… in shock at how life had turned on a dime… in shock at seeing how Daddy’s health had taken such a rapid turn overnight. He was such a strong, resilient man. How could this be happening? What would it mean for my parents? What would it mean for John and me??
John and I jumped in and started learning how to take care of my parents and their household, while also maintaining our own home. We had NO IDEA what we were getting into. We took over EVERYTHING for them. All we knew to do was pray and talk to anybody who would listen and ask what needed to be done. In July 2012, John and I decided to stop renting our place and move into their house, as we were caring for Mama 24/7 and were never home.
Those 2 years and 10 months proved to be tough and gruesome. I don’t think most people really understand what goes into being a caregiver. There were scares and close calls with Mama’s life, many ER visits and hospitalizations with both parents, dealings with nursing homes, and on and on. There are many stories of red tape, long waits, and in the end, just wanting what was best for my parents and wanting everyone whose care they were under to understand that and get on board with us.
Our stress level was through the roof and it was affecting our health and lives in every way possible. We were completely spent physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our spiritual lives were not in good shape and we did not have the time for God or church events that we once did, so that connection was not there. I craved worship. There were times all I wanted to do was scream or escape, but did NOT want my parents to think they were a burden. I stuffed my emotions and felt like I was not even myself most of the time. We received warnings from some that many marriages in our situation did not last. We were DETERMINED that this would not be our story.
In a situation where I didn’t think anything positive could come out of it, God was faithful to His promise that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. Yes, even in this. In the midst of all the stress, anxiety, and anger, I was able to talk some things out with Mama privately and God brought healing to parts of my relationships with both of my parents that I don’t know if anyone in my family even knew were damaged. It is because of this that I am glad I had the opportunity to take care of my parents. Other than wanting to take care of them because they are my parents, it is because of this that I chose to do it. I have no regrets.
Almost two years into caring for her at their house, an opportunity opened for Mama to move into the facility at which Daddy was receiving care. Mama requested to be with him.
June 7, 2014 Mama was in the hospital and not doing well. They did not know what the outcome would be. I didn’t tell anyone, but I was secretly hoping that my parents wouldn’t pass because I feared that if they did, I would lose my faith in God completely and walk away from Christianity. I’m part of a church that believes in divine healing. After watching her suffer with illnesses for so many years and not seeing her healed, I had been angry with God and didn’t think I could take losing her.
The doctor asked if we wanted to make her a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order). I couldn’t bear the thought of it. As her power of attorney, if I signed that paper, would it not be the same as me taking her life? I did not want to be responsible for that. My sister, Cindy, explained the situation to Mama and Mama said, “Do what you think is best.” My siblings and I talked about it and spoke to our father, and we agreed. The decision was made to make her a DNR order. My only internal question was, when would I have the courage to inform the nurse of our decision?
Without communicating to my family where I was going, I left Mama’s hospital room and went to the hospital chapel to pray and seek wisdom. I didn’t have the strength to talk about it, and I figured my family would understand I needed time to myself.
When I entered the chapel, I was the only one there. I sat on the front row and to my surprise, did not cry. I think I was emotionally numb. I simply asked God what I should do. I told Him the family agreed with making her a DNR order, but wouldn’t I, in effect, be killing her? I told Him I couldn’t do that to Mama. God very lovingly and gently spoke one sentence to me… ”It’s okay to let her go.” Immediately, a peace came over me along with an internal release that it was okay and I would not be harming her. I looked up at the clock on the wall and saw that I had only been there for a couple of minutes. I was thankful that God had answered so quickly. I was thankful for His comfort and peace to see me through.
I left the chapel and returned to Mama’s hospital room. As soon as I saw the nurse, I informed her that the family agreed to make Mama a DNR order. THAT WAS THE HARDEST DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE.
My family and I decided to go to the house to get some rest. We said our goodbyes to Mama. I said, “I love you, Mama” … and she mouthed “I love you” back to me. Those were the last words we would speak to each other on this Earth.
June 8, 2014 at 10:30am, I received THE call… the one I had been dreading. Mama had passed. I knew she was in Heaven, but I was devastated. I didn’t know how to go on without her. I didn’t know how to act… what to feel… or what to do. I knew many decisions had to be made, but how would I even have the mental capacity? All I could do was lie in bed and weep. Every morning I would wake up and cry. Depression set in. There was an outpouring of love and support coming in. I didn’t even know what to say to people, or what I needed from anyone. All I could do was mourn. I had no desire to do anything. I was in no state to keep up with the house or go to work. I didn’t want the TV on… no radio… no computer… nothing… I just wanted to mourn. That was all I could handle for days. Just when I thought maybe I was starting to feel like I could get more of a handle on my grief, the next call came.
It was twelve days later. On June 20, 2014 at 4:52pm, the nursing home called. “We don’t know what’s going on. Can you come right away?” Something inside me just knew, although I wanted to deny it.
Upon arrival, what I already knew was confirmed. He was gone. It was like someone pushed the reset button on my grieving process. Both biological parents in twelve days? How could this be?? How would I get through this?? I pretty much isolated myself and grieved for a long period of time. I couldn’t function. I had lost both parents. I didn’t know how to take it all in and deal with it.
Let me preface this next part by saying that I’m revealing these things because I know that as humans, we all deal with the same things, and I’m sharing how God helped me through it. This is not intended to startle anyone.
Losing both of my parents had the opposite effect of what I feared it would have. Rather than losing my faith in God and wanting to get revenge on Him, it SOLIDIFIED my faith. I don’t know HOW God did it, but He did. I KNOW that God exists and that Jesus Christ is the healer.
Even though my faith was strengthened, the grief was so deep that I found myself tempted to drink. I’ve never been a drinker, but the thought crossed my mind to drown the pain and depression by getting plastered.
The night the thought came to me, I was feeling very weak and vulnerable, and the temptation hit strong. I thought about what alcohol would do for me in the moment, and I thought about the consequences. I knew I didn’t want to become addicted to alcohol and have my life crumble before my eyes. I made the decision that I was not going to give in, but didn’t know how to overcome the temptation.
I had recently been listening to Darlene Zschech’s album, Revealing Jesus. I felt like God was telling me to watch the video and dance before Him. I didn’t want to, but decided to be obedient. I started watching the video, and within two minutes of the first song, “God Is Here”, the temptation completely left. I was reminded of the power of praise and worship and how vital it is to yield to the Holy Spirit in the very moment that He speaks to us. Without the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, I may very well have given in and lost everything I have.
Later, I began having thoughts that the grief was too much to bear and I didn’t want to be here anymore. There were many emotions involved, and even though I know there are countless people who care, I somehow became convinced that no one would care. However, I thought about my husband and how much my family had been through, and I knew I did NOT want to put them through even more pain.
I was surprised by both temptations, but when the suicidal thoughts came I chose to pull myself out of the depth of grief and depression in which I was drowning. I made the decision that I would NOT allow myself to go that deep into depression again. I reached out and received the help that I needed.
Having dealt with two serious temptations that I didn’t want to deal with again, I asked God how in the world I was going to get through this. I knew I could trust Him to see me through it.
God’s Supernatural Healing Power
And He did it! On June 8, 2015, the one year mark of Mama passing, I was becoming grief-stricken again. I told God I didn’t know what to do and asked for His help. I know there is always worship going on in Heaven, so I decided that at 10:23am, the time that she passed, I would have worship music going to join in with what Heaven is doing.
I put on Kari Jobe’s “Majestic” DVD. At 10:23 am, the song, “Majestic” was playing. When she sang the line, “How majestic is Your Name”, God revealed to me what Mama’s entrance into Heaven was like and what it was like for her to see Jesus for the first time!! I saw Heaven open and it was a GLORIOUS sight beyond comparison to anything on the Earth!!! Jubilant dancing and celebration!!! COMPLETE joy… no pain… no sorrow. Not even remembering her illness or the suffering she endured on the Earth. My heavy grief immediately lifted and I was happy… happy to know that she is filled with joy and how ecstatic she was when she saw Jesus. I felt the Holy Spirit infuse supernatural strength in me and I was able to go on. I was stunned in amazement at God and His supernatural power. I’ll always cherish “Majestic” as a song that has a special meaning in my life.
That was the beginning of my supernatural healing process. A healing that only God could do. God was showing Himself strong in my life. What Satan had meant to absolutely destroy me, GOD was turning around for His glory!!
Keep the Faith and Don’t Give Up
I wanted to share this testimony with you for three reasons. One, to share with you how God is getting me through and how I’m doing so well so quickly.
Second, to say that NO MATTER WHAT Satan throws at you in life, KEEP your faith in Jesus and DO NOT give up under any circumstances. It’s by faith that we overcome the world. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God and we do not have the Armor of God.
Ephesians tells us to put on the FULL Armor of God. Without faith, our armor has holes in it, rendering it useless. Faith is essential to stand against the wiles of Satan and his demonic attacks.
And third, to encourage you that the power of God is real. The Holy Spirit is not weird and His power is nothing to be feared. We need God’s power to make it in this life, especially the days we’re living in. God’s supernatural power gives you the ability to do what you cannot do in your own strength. He can heal you in the broken areas in an instant where it otherwise would have taken months, or even years. All you have to do is believe His Word and receive His gift.