On the Side: July 2022
Trusting God in the Gap
We were doing a residency rotation in Florida when the triplets were four. One dreary overcast Saturday we were enjoying family time even though Wade was on call. We didn’t understand that in Florida rain can turn to sun in less than a minute. That day it did just that. And three four-year-olds began to wail. I couldn’t understand why the sun was making them cry. As I attempted to console them, I was asking why they were sobbing: “Daddy will have to go to work now.”
Apparently, it doesn’t take long to learn that if your dad is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, the sun coming out means children ride bikes, jump on trampolines, ride skateboards and sometimes those activities lead to injuries. In other words, for three 4-year-olds, the sun equated to Daddy going to work.
A couple of years later, we were on a highway somewhere in Texas when a car lost control in front of us. We pulled over immediately and Wade ran to help. One of my crew began sobbing in the back. I thought he was scared and immediately started to assure him that we were fine, unharmed. “But this is Daddy’s day off!” He wailed.
Dear ones, I know that many of you are beginning residencies this month. You are not sure what the next years will look like and perhaps you are a little worried – how much time will your husband have for you? Will he be called in every time the sun comes out? Will he ever get a day off? Or perhaps you are right in the midst of training and wonder what effect your husband’s schedule will have on his relationship with your children, his relationship with you.
Perhaps you are feeling the need to wail.
I know. I remember. I still tell the story of the day Wade told me he might want to go to medical school. We had been married less than a year and though my mouth said I would support him in whatever he chose to do, my mind was screaming that I need more attention than a doctor could possible give me. I still do.
And then we threw in triplets while that man was in med school.
I used to wonder if the preschoolers who were almost always in bed before their Dr. Daddy came home from his long hours of residency would have a relationship with him. I wondered if they would know him. I worried to be honest. In one particularly worrisome season, I wailed. And then I found this verse in Hebrews and immediately felt like God was giving me this as a reminder.
“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” Hebrews 6:10 (ESV)
In the middle of residency, I clung to this verse. I thanked God for this promise not to look past the work I and my Side By Side sisters were doing in holding down the forts at home while our men worked all the hours at the hospital.
As time passed, the trio grew – and we added another – and Wade wrapped up training. And I still prayed for the words of Hebrews 6 in order to comfort me in the raising of our family. I prayed that the work being done in love would be blessed by God. I prayed that He would stand in the gap created by my inadequacies, by the complexities of our family, by the work my husband was called to do.
Oh God, stand in the gap.
We are 23 years removed from the summer we began residency with three two year olds. This is what I know:
Our triplet daughter just graduated from Occupational Therapy school. I have watched as she and her dad spend hours discussing treatment plans, brainstorming about best practice methods and researching first schools and now jobs.
One of the triplet sons is working on his second archaeology master’s degree. This one in BioArch. He is literally studying ancient bones. He sends x-rays to his Dad on occasion with “Don’t you think this looks like this ancient skeleton had hip dysplasia?” or whatever….it is amazing.
We were sitting in the van enjoying the air conditioning this weekend between softball games (our 16-year-old loves loves loves softball) when our daughter ran to the car and told Wade that a girl was down on the field and they needed him. He took off running with her.
Now let me be clear – there was intentionality that created the relationships our four have with their Dr. Dad. Time was not always abundant in quantity, but Wade prioritizes vacation time and from the earliest days – when money was tight and time even tighter – he carved out ways to get away and focus on just our little family.
But let me be also clear…God was faithful to stand in the gap.
My prayer for you is that you wail when you need to wail – God will comfort you. And oh dear ones, he will faithfully stand in the gap.
Carol Mason Shrader
Carol Mason Shrader is wife to Wade, mom to Benjamin, Mason, Claire, and Cate. She is currently spending most waking moments on the softball field as her youngest chases her dreams.