Kathy Sebright

Writer. Speaker. Believer. Runner. Truth Enthusiast.


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The Pit

Originally posted at http://www.erinelizabethaustin.com/blog/stuck-in-a-pit

The truth is I don’t know what it is like to be sick. I am 30 years old and have been in good health most of my life. I am a distance runner that regularly puts more mileage on their shoes in a week than on their car. I don’t take any medications, I don’t have any specialists, I don’t undergo surgeries or procedures, and I don’t have a medical history. So why am I even talking to you? What on earth can we possibly have in common?

I have been down in the pit, you know the one. Down so deep, I couldn’t be reached, reasoned with, or comforted. The pit is empty and hopeless, full of only fear and uncertainty. There is only lateral movement allowed in the pit, never up and never forward. You are stuck there in this dark limbo until you choose to climb out. When I hit the bottom of that pit, in true Kathy Sebright fashion, I crossed my arms and refused to let anyone help me out. To call me stubborn is a laughable understatement. It is true ten thousand times over. Why shouldn’t I just stay in the pit?

People started to gather at the top of the pit, staring down at me. I heard their voices high above me and saw rope after rope thrown down until it was an overwhelming tangled mess. They wanted to help. I dug my feet in deeper. I saw some give up and walk away, their lifeline they once offered to me now at a pile by my feet. Some came and went at odd times, showing up only so they could see the disaster up close and personal. Still others belittled my pain, spoke of how much worse they had it, talked about me, and condemned me both for my lack of faith or faith in the first place. “Where’s her God now?” they wanted to know. When days turned to weeks and weeks to months, there were only a small group of people left. I saw the concern etched on their tired faces as their tears sometimes fell into the pit. I still refused to grab the rope. God put me here. God can get me out. He knows what to do. Heal my child. Make him better. Take it all away. That was the only way I would be ok again.

I was at war with God, in a hostage situation even, trying to force him to meet my demands or else. I spent months in this stalemate, the refusal to budge, the refusal to see this as anything else but underserved punishment, and blinded by the eyes of a frightened mother. I raged at God. Do something. Anything. Don’t just sit there.

There are no words for what it is like to watch your child suffer. I have searched the depths of my soul for a way to paint this picture to those that have never been in our shoes, but I can only come up with an example. More times than I can count or that I would even like to admit, I have begged God to let me trade places with my 2 year old son, until I am crying and screaming reduced to a pile of a person on the floor. I have begged God to strike me down dead this very minute, in the middle of this prayer, in order to spare my son. I will die right here, right now if he will only heal my little boy’s brain. Take away the malformation, the lesion, the hemorrhage, the pain, the seizures, and the uncertainty. No more surgeries, scans, medications, therapies, or alarms in the middle of the night. Dear God, just take it all away. Sounds desperate, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

The pit consumes you, engulfs you, and changes you, whether you want it to or not. You can never be the same person again once you climb out and that’s not all bad. The day I grabbed the rope and decided it was time to trust God with my son is the day that everything started to change. It was like turning on a light in the middle of the night. At first it hurt to look at, but then it was brilliant and beautiful and I don’t know how I ever saw anything without the light.

If you are in the pit right now, I want to personally throw a rope down to you. Do not despair. You are not alone. You are not forgotten about. God is still holding that rope down to you, even if others are not. Start climbing. He will not leave you there. Trust him. The rope is full of promises for a better tomorrow, a hopeful future, and peace that passes all understanding but only if you take it. You must surrender control. Throw your arms into the air, grab hold of that rope, and let God pull you up.

Today is an ever fleeting moment, gone before we even realize it has slipped through our fingers. I have learned to trust God with whatever will be of my sweet son Emmett. Thy will be done. Emmett is His first, mine second. It was the only way I could be ok again. You can be too. Keep climbing. Live in the light.

Job 33:28: God has delivered me from going down to the pit and I shall live to enjoy the light of life. (NIV)


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The Sign

Originally printed in the Penasee Globe – December 21, 2014

It was cold, dark, and snowing as the brisk wind cut through me. My headlamp illuminated the snow covered road beneath my feet as I ran. There were no tracks to follow. No one had been here anytime recently. There was only me. And I was making my own path.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the road. The road with the house with the sign, that is. Almost 2 years ago, I had been slowly plodding through some serious snow in this same exact place, when I saw the sign on their garage. In cutesy black script, it proclaimed “Life doesn’t get much better than this.” When I saw that sign 2 years ago, I was struck with an irrational and overwhelming urge to pull it down and attempt to break it in half beneath my feet like I would a brittle tree branch. Things were so very different then (although strangely the same). I took off for a long run one particularly bad morning and that’s when I saw the ridiculous sign that almost seemed to mock me.

A gust of wind brought me back to the present. As the snow swirled around me, I found my feet angling themselves to turn onto that road. It was a decision I didn’t consciously make myself. I looked at the sign as I got closer. It was unchanged by the previous 2 years. What a difference. It was my polar opposite. There wasn’t anything about me that remained the same. Everything about me had been touched in some way, shape, or form by what life had thrown at us. IMAG1916_1

I closed my eyes and the past 2 years flooded through my mind. Pools of blood from my son’s broken skull.  My son’s laughter from the next room as his big brother tickled him. Screaming mid run in fear and sheer desperation. Laughing until I cried in the ICU with my husband. My son unconscious and seizing on the floor in front of me. Clutching a friend’s hand so hard it must have hurt, trying to convey everything I couldn’t say. Crying on the floor of a hospital room that smelled faintly of floor cleaner. It was devastating and beautiful and painful and amazing all at once.

I’m not sure when exactly the change took place. It was gradual and it snuck up on me. One day I could clearly see what I couldn’t before: hope, gratitude, and life. I found myself smiling at the sign, seeing it now with different eyes. I turned and continued to run, unsure of my destination but sure of my ability to blaze my own path.

It’s so easy to focus on everything that went wrong. Even at Christmas we all can lose sight of what matters. The greatest gift I have ever known was finding hope, gratitude, and life despite our circumstances. I wish everyone the ability to see things with different eyes and the persistence to make their own path.


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The courage to stop pretending

Originally posted at http://www.mops.org/blog/courage-to-stop-pretending

I could tell you stories of pregnancy and loss, and of holding a tiny lifeless baby in the palm of my hand. I could tell you about the leap of faith it took to try again and the heartbreak of losing yet again. I could tell you about months of bedrest with another baby not expected to live. I could tell you about the first time I called 911 while I watched that baby, my 1 year old son Emmett, unconscious and seizing in his crib. I could tell you about putting on a brave face for my 3 year old son Travis, trying to figure out how best to explain it without terrifying him. I could even tell you about the treadmill run in the hospital for Emmett’s first surgery, while I ran for exactly 7 hours and 26 minutes waiting and praying he was going to be ok. But none of those are quite it.

I think the most courageous thing I have ever done was stop pretending. I was a great pretender. I could smile even though I wanted to fall onto the floor and cry. I could laugh even though I felt hollow and empty inside. I could cite my strong faith while raging against a God that would allow Emmett to suffer so greatly. I could sit calmly in public when just hours before I had been screaming and breaking things up against the wall. The pain emptied my very heart and soul and hung me out to dry. The fear of the future, of the unknown, and of what would happen to Emmett ignited me with a fire so fierce, it threatened to burn me to the ground. The old me was gone, swallowed whole by this wide-eyed insomniac clutching a medical binder as thick as phonebook and pretending to be ok. My old world was gone, replaced by a new one with sterile white walls and words I couldn’t pronounce. This was the life that I pretended to live for much too long. There was no big pivotal moment that spurred me into action. One day I just woke up and said Enough. It has to get better. For me. For them. For all of us. I can’t pretend any more. I sought counseling. I learned to manage my fear and anxiety and let go of what I couldn’t control. I learned it was ok to not be ok and that I didn’t have to pretend for anyone. I learned to stay in the present and eliminate what if questions. Most importantly, I learned to live again, even happily in spite of our circumstances, and that took the most courage of all.