What the Hospital Taught Me About Trying to Do It All

I joked after my book was finished that now I could go back to doing the work of the home again. I thought finishing the book meant I needed to get back to actually doing the work. I needed the perspective and the headspace to do it. But what I didn’t know is that I needed to experience the work. God wasn’t concerned about me getting back to work. He was concerned about humbling me and making a recipient of the work.

Of all the things I wrote in Glory in the Ordinary, perhaps the hardest thing for me to accept in the book is the fact that I can’t do it all. I wrote it. I’ve spoken about it. But I have a hard time believing it and living it out.

And then I went to the hospital.

Literally overnight, my life changed. Doing it all wasn’t an option. Instead I was doing nothing, besides trying to keep a baby alive. Our kids had round the clock care from fellow church members until my mom could get a flight to Little Rock. For four weeks I only knew what was happening with my boys intermittently. I received pictures and updates via text, but for the most part they were in the complete care of someone else. Meals were prepared and delivered to my house for my kids and the caregivers. Friends finished painting the twins’ room. Laundry, mowing the grass, checking our mail, bathing my kids—all done by someone other than Daniel and me. I didn’t even pack my own hospital bag. Turns out I didn’t just need to write a chapter to find out I couldn’t do it all. I had to get put on hospital bed rest too.

But seeing firsthand that I can’t do it all wasn’t just for me. It turns out it was for others, too.

“You have some great friends,” one of my nurses said to me one day. After hearing about the care our kids were receiving, seeing the visitors, and hearing of the prayers, she marveled that our church would love in such a way. The high-risk unit is a hard place to be, and many women are left with no options when they are admitted. Some have even checked out, knowing the risk to their unborn babies, because they couldn’t find a way to care for the children who were outside of the womb. In my humbling, in my inability to do it all, the world was seeing a better way to love. With every remark from the hospital staff, we were able to tell of a God who loves in abundant ways.

The world doesn’t understand a church that loves, a church that sacrifices, a church that drops everything to meet the needs of the beloved. And if I’m honest, I don’t either. I am apologetic. I am quick to say I don’t need the help. But the church is not a debt collector. It’s a family. And families step up. They sacrifice. They defer. They love. Sometimes family members get more care than others, but there is always a tradeoff. God gets glory in this. “How can they love like that”, the world asks. But we have been placed into a family through Christ, our brother. We love because he loved us first. We love because it’s our family. And that’s what family does.

This is what we lose when we try to do it all on our own. We lose the help, but we also lose the witness. One of the things we want our kids to learn from this ordeal is that God never leaves us. Even when mommy and daddy have to leave, God doesn’t. Even when things are scary, God is there. Even when we can’t be there to help them, God is there. But we have learned it too. God shows up in the care from his people. He uses others to display his love for us. Doing it all is an illusion I tried to live out for far too long. I can’t do it all. But God can. And he always shows up.