many counselors...

Plans fail for lack of counsel, 
   but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Where do you go when you are trying to make a big decision? To your friends? To family members? Self-help books, or maybe an article in a magazine? A person on T.V. who seems to have it all together? Looking back over last year, I found that I had several different "counselors" who helped me as I mulled over whether or not I should have the surgery. It was not an easy or quick decision by any means. I remember sitting with a dear friend outside of Starbucks in early summer, and the words tumbled out of my mouth...."I think I may need surgery again"....I had been quietly worrying about it to myself for a few months, but the problem was so huge and frustrating that I couldn't bring myself to talk to anyone about it for a while. But after spending that time over a hot coffee, I realized the importance of sharing my struggle and saw how it eased my burden to have others know what I was thinking.
It took me almost a year to accept what was happening to my spine, and that I needed to do something drastic about it. I wonder if it would have taken me longer if I didn't have the help and wisdom of many friends, family and fellow scoliosis sufferers to guide me. I think I prayed more about having that surgery than any decision I have made in my life so far. The permanence of the screws and rods, as well as the high risks associated with the actual procedure were prominent in my mind. I also considered the affect going through a 4th surgery would have on my 3 year old marriage. It was a lot to think about.

Hindsight is 20/20, so with that advantage I look over the last year and see how my "many counselors" helped me come to my decision.

1. I went to my close friends. I am blessed with a group of women who not only love me, but love the Lord. We spent countless hours going over the pros and cons of my surgery. I listened closely to advice and perspectives that were different than mine, because I knew they had my best interests at heart. Not one of them gave a quick and ready answer, and that to me shows their wisdom. This was not a black and white problem, and whatever decision I came to would have large and far reaching consequences. They all recognized that, and prayed for me as I wrestled with it week after week.

2. I went to my family. My husband and I prayed over this question together for months. We also fought, laughed and cried about it. It is true when you are married that "two become one" and whatever I choose to do with my life affects his as well. It was hard to imagine putting myself through this suffering, knowing that it would cause him suffering (although not physical, suffering from stress, fear, lack of sleep...the list could go on and on). His perspective was different from my friends, because he was so close to me. What they could see clearly from the outside, he could see clearly from the inside. If I dismissed his concerns, it would have been foolish, as his concerns are my concerns.
     I also spent many hours discussing the surgery with my Mom, Dad and siblings. They are like the middle ground between my husband and my friends. If they had raised any red flags, it would have been foolish not to listen.

3. I went to people who had walked in my shoes. I sought out as many women with scoliosis that I could. I asked them question after question, from every possible angle. Many times I went to them with questions or concerns that had been raised by my husband or my girlfriends. Recognizing their experience as invaluable, I eagerly listened to the good, bad, ugly, and scary. I was careful to expose myself to not only good results, but the results of those who did not have everything go the way they wanted. To ignore the possibility that my surgery could cause me more pain, or worse, would be foolish and possibly dangerous.

4. I went on my knees. I prayed for wisdom, and that God would make my path straight. I sought counsel in His Word, and from His Holy Spirit. I believed Him when He said: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight." (Prov. 3:5-6) I brought up this promise to Him in prayer over and over, and He eventually gave me peace while paving the way for me to have the surgery. I knew there was not a "right" or "wrong" answer to my question, but a "good" and "better." I wanted to make the best choice I could, and I had the advantage of knowing He wants what's best for me too.

I am thankful to have had the counselors that I did. I see how each of them were pivotal in coming to a wise choice. And as I move forward with my life, I am comforted to know that I have them to help me with whatever future decisions I have to make.

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