Written by: Amanda Manning
I’ve always struggled with hearing God’s voice. When I was little, I thought you only heard Him if you were doing something bad. He would scold you in a big, bad voice when you were stealing cookies out of the cookie jar. As a teenager, I thought only the crazies would hear voices, right? As a grown woman, I was still not hearing Him. Is it an actual voice in your head that speaks to you, or a whisper in your heart? Is it a feeling, a cosmic sign, or a lightning bolt that hits you hard? For many years, I felt that maybe I just didn’t have a very strong relationship with God because I didn’t “hear” him talk to me. In the last 10 months, I’ve had plenty of conversations with Him.
I’m a registered nurse at a pediatric hospital in an intensive care unit. At least, I was. I was at the top of my game. Saving babies, making a good income, living in a nice home. I had a loyal husband, two great kids. We went to church, I taught a Cubbies class. I worked out at the gym. Marriage was….pretty good. If only I could work a few more shifts, we could pay off a few more bills. I’ll just pick up another shift this week and we can buy a new car, and be just like the neighbors. Man, look, they have a new boat. I know my husband, Bryan, would rather I didn’t work five 12 hour shifts this week, but it will be a big paycheck. I’ll just sign this bonus contract for 6 weeks and work really hard and then we can afford that awesome vacation.
Maybe that’s why I couldn’t hear God talking to me. I couldn’t even hear the man in the bed next to me talking to me. Or the kids I was raising asking me to stay home instead of working so much. But I got greedy. I was covetous. Then, one day, I started coughing. It got hard to breathe. It’s just bronchitis, the doctors said. A couple days later, I went to work and I couldn’t safely take care of my patients. I couldn’t catch my breath and I just COULDN’T STOP COUGHING! I had to take time off. My heart rate was extremely high. I had had this problem before, but my medication wasn’t controlling my heart rate anymore, and now I just couldn’t breathe!
I called my husband home from work one day because my throat was closing up. I couldn’t draw in a breath. He raced me to the hospital. On the way to the hospital that day, I had my first real conversation with the Lord. But, first, I heard another voice. There was a very slick, soothing voice telling me, “It’s okay. You don’t have to breathe anymore. You can stop now. It will all be fine.” This was such a relief. Every breath was such agony. They were getting farther apart and more difficult. So I stopped. My vision got darker. Then, suddenly, there was a much stronger voice that interjected. “Amanda, breathe. Take a breath. Take a breath, now, Amanda.” It was so commanding. So, I did. I took a big breath. It was so refreshing. “Now take another,” He said. So, I did. And I started breathing again. I looked over at Bryan and told him I loved him and then went unconscious.
Later, we found out that I was having a reaction to my heart medication. It was causing my airway to close up. It was no longer controlling my heart rate, a problem I have dealt with for a long time. So, we spent the next 8 months trying to find a substitute medicine to do the job.
During that time, I tried to return to work unsuccessfully and eventually had to quit my job. Financially, we were devastated. We had to sell our house because we could not afford the mortgage. Fortunately, my in-laws were wanting to move closer to us and bought our house. We all moved in together. Bryan missed so many days from work rushing me to the hospital or sitting beside me in the hospital that we lost count. The medical bills were enormous.
Physically, I was almost bed confined. When I tried to do any physical activity, I either passed out due to my high heart rate or had to use an inhaler because I went into a coughing fit and could not breathe. On good days I was able to get the kids to school in the mornings and pick them up in the afternoons. On bad days, I depended on neighbors or Bryan to help. I occasionally made it to church, but usually had to leave early or skip altogether. I had to have a friend or family member drive me to my numerous doctor appointments. Housework was a huge effort, if it got done at all. The kids cried because I wasn’t able to play with them, and had to spend most summer days watching movies instead of running around outside.
Emotionally, I was a wreck. I had lost the job that I felt defined me. We had to move out of the master suite of our house into a small guest room and share the house with my in-laws. The kids were now sharing a room. Most days, I wasn’t able to cook, straighten up the house, or contribute in any way. I spent most of my days sleeping because I was so exhausted from my heart rate being so elevated. I couldn’t take care of my own children or even be a true wife. I just felt stripped of all of my roles in life. Nurse, mother, wife, all gone. I was now just an invalid. I started to wallow in self pity and depression.
One day, I came out of my own funk long enough to notice that Bryan was struggling as well. He was in the middle of a rant and had his Bible in his hand and tossed it down and said, “What’s the point in all this if He’s just going to do this to us?” Well that got my attention. It was one thing for me to be depressed and upset. But I didn’t enjoy seeing my better half that way. That was another way God spoke to me. Sometimes he speaks to you through others. Bryan felt as lost as I did, if not more. God was telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself and be the helpmate that I was meant to be. I tried to be there emotionally for Bryan more. I encouraged him to have more quiet time. I defended my savior and we discussed how God is there even in bad times. It strengthened our relationship with God and pushed me back into daily devotionals, where he whispered to my heart. He healed my hurt tenderly and slowly. Instead of pushing us away from God, it pushed us towards him. We grasped for him desperately and prayed fervently.
It can be hard to see God working in your life when you feel like your drowning, but He is there. Not only was he strengthening our relationship with him, he was strengthening our marriage. While I was at home struggling to make it through each day, my husband was at work. He was grocery shopping and taking care of the kids and keeping our family going. I saw how strong he was and how much he loved our family. I watched him sit by my side all night in the hospitals and sacrifice everything for me. I saw our marriage go from “okay” to strong. We leaned on each other through this struggle. We told each other how much we loved each other and how much we appreciated each other more than we ever have.
In June, the doctors finally admitted that medication was not the answer. I had a procedure called a catheter ablation. So far, it has controlled my high heart rate and I no longer have any trouble with coughing or shortness of breath. I had a problem shortly afterwards with high blood pressure and we are still controlling that with medication. Other than that, I’m doing much better. Praise the Lord! I am slowly getting back to where I can exercise and do the same activities that I used to be able to and have started applying for nursing jobs. We are in the process of buying a home. It is possible for me to relapse back and have to have the catheter ablation again, but we are optimistic.
As I look back at the events over the last 10 months, I feel that it has all a big message from God. He is telling me to SLOW DOWN and appreciate what I have. I was so worried about working “one more shift” and making just a little more money, that I wasn’t enjoying the family that I had or hearing God’s voice. I was also running myself ragged. Although the whole ordeal has been awful and trying, it has helped my marriage grow stronger. It has also brought me closer to God. Now I know how to hear Him when he speaks to me. It is a whisper to your heart. It is a huge lightning strike. It is through others. Sometimes is in your head. It can be through a ten month ordeal. It can be any way that He chooses. You just have to be open and willing to hear Him.
Biography of Author
Amanda Manning is 29 years old. She is a Christian child of God, wife, mother, and registered nurse. She is trying to remember to keep it in that order. She lives in central Arkansas and attends First Baptist Church, Cabot. She lives with her husband, 8 year old daughter, 5 year old son, and wonderful in-laws. Her family hopes to soon transition back into a home of their own. She is also hoping to return to the work force. She would appreciate your prayer for her continued good health. She wanted to share her experience and what she learned from it with others. We hope you enjoyed her story and will use to strengthen your relationship with God.