what now?

I’m kind of at a loss. Not for words (always plenty of those), but for the right words. What do you say after you’ve already told the story of an event that changed your life and yet you don’t have any clear definition of what that “new” life should look like?

What if you want to be forever changed and pursuing Jesus with everything in you, but apparently, you’re just as human as you ever were? And more tired. With more responsibilities. And more what-ifs.

Once before I got up to speak at a MOPS group (about s-e-x), the leader told the group that the sister of one the MOPS gals had lost her husband in a car accident the night before. Then she turned to me and said, “I’m sorry to share something so heavy right before your talk.”

And I said, “Oh, goodness. If anything, it should put this in perspective for us. I’m getting ready to give you all a pep talk about wanting to make love to your husbands, and this dear wife will never again be able to hold her husband in her arms.”

And from that moment on, I’ve tried to remember that young widow whenever Gabe wants to do something I don’t. Or when he chews food (because even if he does it as quietly as possible, I still can’t stand it. I’m OCD like that.). I say to myself, “Would I rather him be sitting in his recliner eating Doritos or would I rather him be dead?” It’s a sobering question (if not a little funny).

And yet, here I sit, four days after I almost lost him, and I’m cringing at the sound of him eating raw almonds (not even CLOSE to Doritos on the obnoxious noises scale) in his recliner all the way downstairs.

I admit my hideousness not because I want to try to outdo my crappiness confessions with every blog post, but because I’m struggling, and I need you to know that.

This ordeal has made us stronger and more grateful for what we have and more in tuned with God and his mercy and sovereignty, and a whole host of other amazing things.

But it has also exhausted us. And whipped our world out from under us. And opened our eyes to some things that aren’t pretty. And made us question what our future will hold and why we’re here on this earth.

It feels like we’re in a battle, and not one that’s over just because Gabe’s life has been spared. God was responsible for all of that; now we have to keep up the fight. The fight to be healthy, the fight to keep depression at bay, the fight to recover physically, the fight to make the best decisions…

And when I feel this tired after four days, I wonder if we have the strength to keep this up for the rest of forever.

Thankfully, God promises we don’t have to do it on our own. We have him. And we have all of you. Thank you. And we are so, so, so, so blessed.

My prayer (well, one of them) for today is that God will show me how to make this whole heart attack thing all about HIM and not about us. And I’m praying for an extra helping of grace for the times I just don’t get it right.

God, help us to seek nothing but you and your glory.

35 thoughts on “what now?

  1. Ben

    Just letting you know that prayers have been going up from Australia for you Tavianos. Although I’ve been really slack in keeping up to date on your blog posts—I read about Gabe’s heart attack a week or so ago, and since then I’ve been processing… Both of your blogs have had a huge influence on me & my relationship with God over the last couple of years. I can’t even remember where I found Gabe’s blog… it’s seemingly always been in my Google Reader, only about 6 months or so ago I clicked through to ‘his wife’s blog’ and you’ve been beside him in my reader since then.

    Through Gabe’s heart attack I’ve been reminded how fragile life really is, how much one needs to rely on God especially in these hard times and that He ultimately just wants a friend in us. Because I’m so far away and I only interact with you two by reading your collective blog posts, the reality that someone *I* look up to could go through this (especially when so young) has taken quite a while to sink in and become real.

    Life really is fragile, and as humans we don’t deserve even 2% of the blessings God gives us… but thank goodness He’s unfair! Thank goodness he think otherwise! Someone once said that God spreads grace like a two year old spreads peanut butter… they can’t help but get it on absolutely everything!

    I simply wanted to return the favor and encourage you at this time… (any time of change or unrest God can use to draw us closer to Him) and let you know that your blogs and your open attitude toward life has helped people come closer to God even in the far reaching parts of the globe! Prayers will keep rising from Australia 🙂

    P.S. In regards to your self-confessed OCD attitude towards the sounds of people eating… don’t worry, you’re not the only one. If that was the only thing I had an OCD-ish attitude towards I’d be rejoicing :p

  2. Beth in Baltimore

    Hi Marla, I just wanted to offer some words of encouragement. I think it makes total sense that you are tired after “just four days” !!!! This is so new. So startling. So exhausting. My experience has been that even with really hard things, we get better at them with time for adjustment and practice. I still do not like it one bit that my husband works the evening shift, but I have found things to be thankful for even in this and I have adjusted. I still can’t wait for him to have a shift change! I still can’t wait for the new and exciting thing that I think God is going to be doing! I’m still lonely and have to fight depression. I’m no superwoman, that’s for sure. But given time, the hard things get routine. I guess that’s my word. That, and the amazingly bountiful grace of God upholds and provides for me!

  3. Becca

    Oh friend, I totally know how you feel . . . well, kinda. I think everything with Caden has taught me a lot of the same lessons . . . Know that I’m praying for you!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Oh, Becca. Of course you know how I feel–and then some!! Your precious baby boy almost didn’t make it. I’m sooooooo thankful for his life and for YOU and your beautiful family. Prayed for the four of you just now! Hugs!

  4. Rachelle

    Oh my, there must be a street in Heaven where we’re going to be neighbors! Our situations may be different but we’re battling some of the same questions. “I wonder if we have the strength to keep this up for the rest of forever”. All I have is to throw myself on the mercy and grace of a faithful God.

    Praying for you today.

  5. ann

    Dearest Marla, Lots of questions after a life-altering event, I know…been there, done that. Just allow yourself to rest for a while. You’ve been through a ton in a short period of time and you don’t have to process it all at once! God has all of you written on the palm of His hand…let Him carry you.
    (and tell Gabe we all say to chew quieter, heart attack or not!)
    many prayers for all of you!

  6. missy @ it's almost naptime

    I am speaking at a retreat next week on suffering so I am consumed with the topic right now.

    One thing I have learned, a bit begrudgingly, is that suffering is one of the greatest means that God uses to conform us to the image of Christ. It is never random, it is never wasted, it is always a part of his plan. Suffering is the chemotherapy that eats away at the sin of our souls.

    This is only a promise to the believer. All suffer, but only those who have put their faith in Christ Jesus come out on the other side looking more like Him, who suffered on our behalf and even now pleads your’s and Gabe’s case before the Father. Only when we cling to the cross does suffering bring glory to God and lead to holy joy. THIS is what it means to work out our salvation with fear and trembling!

    Spurgeon said, “the greatest earthly blessing that God can give to any of us is health, with the exception of sickness. Sickness has frequently been of more use to the saints of God than health has. A sick wife, a newly made grave, poverty, slander, sinking of spirit, might teach us lessons nowhere else to be learned so well. Trials drive us to the realities of religion.

    “I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable …”

    Love you Marla. Being in the stable is cold and confusing and stinky. It’s not a happy place. But it’s the holiest of places to be.

  7. valerie

    Oh my goodness, I’m so glad it’s not just me that can’t stand the chewing food sound! 🙂 Praying for you, Marla, that the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus, and that our God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  8. Angela

    Thank you so much for sharing this today – especially the chewing food part. I’m OCD that way too and it drive me crazy! But your reminder that I’d rather hear him chewing than be without him is just perfect!

  9. Cheryl Pickett

    First, let me say that hopefully, I will be able to explain my thought so that it doesn’t come across as contrary to faith because that’s not it at all. So that said, here goes.

    I think you may be putting extra stress on yourself trying to make the heart attack about God and not Gabe/you etc. Giving it over to Him to worry less and knowing He will help you through the situation is one thing, but making it have other meaning it may not have (about God) is different in my mind.

    Our bodies are mortal and not perfect. What we do to them is never perfect. Things like disease and heart attacks often happen because of those imperfections, not as a teaching moment from God. Sometimes they are yes, but sometimes it’s life happening. If we can learn something from it, grow somehow, that’s great. But is there always some big lesson directly attached, I don’t believe there is.

    As someone else said, it might cause less stress to deal with here and now, figuring out today. Once you’re through to some sort of normal, then maybe look back to see if there’s a bigger lesson. And if not, don’t push to find one. There may not be one, or if there is, it will be revealed in His time (whether that’s your/our time or not).

    Again, hope this both helps and makes sense. Peace to all of you.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I probably didn’t explain myself very well. What I meant was that when I go on and on and on about Gabe’s heart attack, I want to make sure I’m bringing glory to God and not just drawing attention to myself.

  10. Betsy E

    Marla, at age 28 or 29, I learned that I would spend the rest of my life taking medicine for an illness I had when I was 10, that just then started to affect me. I realized then that I had to accept what I was given and adjust if I wanted to live a “normal” life. My advice to you is to accept, and go on. And I praise the Lord that almost 30 years later, I’ve been able to take my medicine and live my life pretty normally with just a few bumps in the road.

    More advice: Live one day at a time. Don’t think far into the future. Just go one day at a time. And remember, the Lord is already IN your future.

    Praying for you all.

  11. Deidre

    Surely we all hold too tightly to our dreams. I believe God gets that and is patient with us until we ‘get it’. Thanks for your honesty.

    So happy Gabe is recovering well. Praying for you, him and your family. And, ofccourse, the trip!

  12. janelle

    I just know…..HIS MERCIES , HIS…..MERCIES are new every morning…..like with MOM….each day…HE RENEWS for what YOU, Marla need..in this ” season”….to be Marla, to Gabe, to Livi, Ava, Nina, to YOURSELF…and to others…I pray deeply…for your life.

  13. Megan at SortaCrunchy

    Listen, sister ENFP. There are a lot of details right now, and details are exhausting to us. But you know what we do well? We look at the big picture. Focus on the big picture. It’s hard right now, the learning curve is steeeeeeep, and there is so much to learn. A few months from now, a year from now, it will be the new normal.

    It won’t be this hard forever.

    There is grace for the moment. What are you doing for self-care? I’m serious about that, friend. Take a few moments each day to take care of yourself in a way that restores your soul, because all of the focus on details will drain you.

    Praying, praying over you today.

  14. Rachel

    It’s so hard to see the “why” when something is happening. And sometimes we never know the “why” and that can be frustrating. And it’s hard to remember that God loves us and only wants the best for us when everything is going wrong….Praying for you and your family.

  15. Charise

    I am praying for you and Gabe every day. I’m so glad you’re going on your trip. I probably would send a link to the blog post to the doctor…controlling much? My husband will scrape the fork with his teeth when he eats.

  16. Krysten

    Beautiful, beautiful bare honesty. Thank you for sharing your heart. So so so happy that your man is home and doing better. I’ll keep praying for you & your family.

  17. Bethany Peters

    I love your honesty in this post. I will be praying extra hard for you, Marsy. I totally get that thankful yet irritable mood. God’s grace and unending mercies will get you through!

    p.s. Would Gabe be interested in our air popper? (no oil needed)

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