Lenten Devotion, Thursday, March 18, 2021: By Melinda Villaseñor


Thursday, March 18, 2021

In Darkness, There is Light
By Melinda Villaseñor
Terrifying fear, numbness, and heart-wrenching sadness are a few of the emotions I experienced the day Johnny received his diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease. Our lives changed instantly. To survive, Johnny would need to go to dialysis three times a week for four hours. Our life now depended on us learning what a renal diet was and respecting how important it was to follow it to keep Johnny alive and well. In the midst of all this change, I was still trying to wrap my brain around what was happening. I felt so sad, scared, alone, and helpless to do anything but watch Johnny grow more fatigued with each dialysis treatment. I spent countless hours crying on the phone with close friends. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I felt alone.
Many days it felt like I was choking on my own sadness. There was no escape from it. We could only take one day at a time. I hated knowing how out of control and how powerless I was to fix this for Johnny. But what I didn’t realize is the thing that was keeping him alive would also slowly take a toll on his body. As hard as this felt for me and as much as I used “we” when describing what we had to do; I was very aware that he was the one sitting in that dialysis chair. He was doing the hard part all by himself. We were both isolated in this experience. I had a front row seat for watching him suffer with an ever present fatigue because dialysis was sapping his energy away.
While coming to terms with Johnny’s diagnosis, we made sure to do the things that had always remained a constant in our lives for years. We came to the preschool hall on Sunday mornings and greeted our family. We continued to worship and I kept singing in choir. I even discovered new ways to cope with my own emotions, by spending more time in the garden, listening to my favorite hymns on Facebook, which included “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” and I was more intentional about texting or calling close friends to try to gird myself for the next day or week ahead. I cried out to God everyday with tears and pleas for help. I was not strong enough, I could not do this, how do I do this? What I discovered through this nightmare is that my ability to take in new information was limited to kidney issues so my comfort came from what I already had within me; what I had already learned. So the bible verses that came to mind and comforted me were Psalm 121, Joshua 1:9, and Psalm 34:18. And through all of it I am grateful I was able to see and feel God’s presence.
Because God is merciful, I gradually found hope and joy in the midst of all the terrible and hard realities of Johnny’s diagnosis. Every single time someone asked how Johnny was, wrote us a note, brought us a meal, took me out to lunch, let me cry with them, took us on a weekend away, knit Johnny a blanket, or sent me a text, I felt loved and cared for and was reminded of God’s faithful presence in our lives.
Here is a link to my playlist of South Main’s choir videos which have sustained me. Sign in to Facebook to see my playlist and follow if you choose.
About the Author
Melinda Villaseñor has been a member of South Main since 1987 after she and Johnny were married. They have both taught, volunteered, and served in the preschool hall for 31 years. She has two daughters, Sarah & Amanda, serves as a deacon, and sings in choir.

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