JJ Heller and her daughter faced a difficult circumstance, and found that God somehow turned what was hard into a gift.

JJ Heller
JJ Heller

Earlier this year my daughter Lucy went to the orthodontist and found out she needed surgery to remove four baby molars. They were fused to the bone and would never fall out on their own. I scheduled the surgery several weeks out and proceeded to worry about it every. Single. Day.

If you are familiar with my story at all, you know that fear is my least-favorite ever-present companion. I'm the queen of what-ifs, and unfortunately, it appears I've passed on that worried nature to my daughter. We both spent weeks dreading the surgery.

When the day finally came, Lucy was doing surprisingly well on the drive to the doctor's office. But as we began walking down the hallway to check-in, I heard her little voice giving herself a pep talk, "I can do this. I can do this," she said over and over as she balled up her fists. And then my mama heart shattered. How I wished I could've taken her place so she wouldn't have to go through the surgery!

The time finally came and they called us back to the operating room. They connected her to all sorts of tubes and wires, and she took it like a champ. She was so loopy she started "dancing" in the chair right before they put her completely under (she doesn't remember any of it)!

As they sent Dave and me back to the waiting room I tried to choke back my tears. Even though it was a minor surgery, it was so hard to see her unconscious, surrounded by doctors and beeping monitors. Everything in me wanted to protect her from the pain, but all I could do was wait.

The procedure only took ten minutes. I couldn't believe it!! They called us back into the operating room, put an ice pack on both sides of her face, and told us to she was ready to go home.

For the rest of the day, she took up residence on the couch, watched a ton of TV and had a really great attitude about all of it. That night as I tucked her in her bed, I told her how proud I was of her. I couldn't believe how brave she had been that day! She started smiling, but then her smile quickly vanished. She looked into my eyes and said, "Yeah, but I wasn't really that brave, because I started crying a little bit before I walked into the doctor's office."

In that moment I told her that she had it all wrong! I told her how incredibly courageous she was, and that being brave means being scared, but doing it anyway. I said you can't be brave without being a little bit scared first. It took a few moments, but as the words sank in, her face lit up and she gave me a great big hug. It was a moment I will never forget.

As I turned out the light, I suddenly realized the event I'd been dreading for over a month, the event that loomed ominously on the calendar for weeks, had somehow turned into a gift. God used the scary surgery day to show Lucy how strong and courageous she could be. He gave me a sweet mother-daughter moment with her that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life.

He showed me that beauty can be found in the hard things, and that He's still here with us. Always.

What if the world doesn't end when the fears come true?
What if we have what we need to make it through?
There is manna from heaven and mercies new
What if God is still here in this desert too?

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.