The last year or so has been quite challenging for me. I keep saying, “I think I’m full up, but, apparently, God disagrees because He keeps sending more my way.”
I had my second son, Jeremy, in March 2022. Truly a blessing. Additionally, we decided to move to Bergen County. Given the crazy real estate market, it made sense to sell our apartment first, move in with my mom, then find a place to buy. Our apartment sold quickly, another blessing. But, when Jeremy was three weeks old, I was at my mom’s with our two boys while Andrew met the movers at our apartment, and, suddenly, I felt off. I told my mom something wasn’t right and that is the last memory I have.
My memories don’t really solidify for 36 hours. My mom called Andrew and 911 right after I said something was wrong. The ambulance took me to one hospital. Everyone thought it was dehydration or something given new motherhood. However, at the hospital, a CT scan showed a massive brain bleed. I had had a stroke. I was immediately airlifted to another hospital and underwent emergency brain surgery.
I spent almost two weeks in the hospital recovering. Miraculously, I was okay physically and mentally. Emotionally was a different story. I struggled (and still struggle) with anxiety. One night in the hospital, I had a vision that I was dangling over a pit. I looked down and only saw darkness. I was holding on to a little string, but felt my fingers slipping and began to despair. In the dream, I looked up and saw God holding me. Gripping my wrist so I wouldn’t fall. I didn’t have to hold on to anything He had me. I may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but I wasn’t alone, God was with me (Psalm 23:4).
Since then, it has been quite the journey to regain my strength and pull the pieces back together. During one of my MRIs, in my effort not to push the panic button from being in that tiny tube with the clanking of the machine all around, I recited Proverbs 3:5-6 over and over in my head–with one brief break to tell God that I hoped He liked these verses because He was going to hear them a lot the next 15 minutes! Balancing two little kids, follow-up doctor’s appointments, and moving has not been easy. I had a setback this spring when I had a seizure as I was weaning off some of my medications followed a few weeks later by a panic attack where they weren’t sure if it was something more serious. Nothing like a couple more ambulance rides!
Recently, I have reflected on the thought I opened with that God thinks I’m stronger than I think I am and decided that’s not right. I AM full. I alone cannot handle more than I thought. But, with God, I can handle anything. It’s more accurate to say, “I’m full up, but God plans to sustain me through more.” All of us only get through every challenge, every day, every hour because He is with us. We can endure all things through Him who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). Our weaknesses give God even more opportunity to show His power.
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Pamela Schopp and her family have been members of GRC since 2023.