Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Parting the Waters by Jeanne Damoff
God, save me because the water has risen to my neck, I’m sinking down into the mud, and there is nothing to stand on. I am in deep water, and the flood covers me…..But I pray to you, Lord, for favor. God because of your great love, answer me. You are truly able to save. Pull me from the mud and do not let me sink. Do not let the flood drown me or the deep water swallow me or the grave close its mouth over me.
Psalm 69:1,2, 13-15
For Jeanne Damoff, this would prove to be a symbolic description of her journey but for her son, Jacob, it was a literal life changing event. During a church outing, 15-year old Jacob and a friend, Jeremy, were swimming when they both went under. By a conservative estimate, they were under 10 minutes before being rescued. Jacob was pulled to safety and after 20 minutes of CPR, they were able to revive him. Jeremy was found, but not as lucky. He perished in the water.
Throughout the story, water becomes the thread that holds the next few years together. True, it was water that caused a permanent amount of brain damage that changed Jacob’s life. But it was also the ripples from the accident that Damoff chose to concentrate on instead of the accident. It was this “uninvited, undesired affliction” that would create a ripple effect throughout their family, their church and their community. “I was beginning to understand the good God could accomplish through pain and suffering.”
As a reader, you are tempted to ask God why for the sake of the author. Here was a teenager that served God with his whole being, excelled at school, was well liked and stayed out of trouble. He was the perfect teen, barring the messy room. He was with a church group at the time of the accident, and an experienced swimmer at that. And yet, here he lay, in a comatose state, unable to function without the help of several people. Not that Damoff never asked why. She doesn’t sugarcoat their weaknesses nor pretend they never existed. Yet, instead of repeatedly telling God this was unfair or giving God 101 reasons why this shouldn’t have happened, she decided to focus on how God would use this event for his glory. When their local community could have jointly raised their fists to God, they didn’t. They decided to work together to remind others to pray for Jacob. They wrote poetry and songs for and about him. In fact, after the reading the book, you are impressed with how much right and honorable was done considering.
As candid as you can be, Damoff describes the slow process in subtle victories that led to Jacob’s new-normal. When others would have written a recovery off, the staff at Baylor insisted on maintaining the strength in Jacobs’s legs and hands to prevent atrophy. They planned on his recovery through vigorous and aggressive therapy, even if his prognosis wasn’t that optimistic. It was this bull-dog grip on faith that gave Jacob a functioning future.
When Damoff was torn between giving all of her children the attention they needed, or when she felt overwhelmed by the future for both Jacob and herself, or when depression and oppression sought to capsize her, she dug in with conviction and kept going.
Damoff is quick to credit much of her strength and Jacob’s recovery to the prayers of those that would not cease. Parting the Waters is a testimony to how prayer, positive thinking, faith in action, and a central belief that God does have a plan actually plays out in the end. Parting the Waters is pregnant with faith building hope for whatever situation the reader may be facing.
Jacob’s relationship with the Lord is as good if not better than before the accident. His expression of praise challenges others to a call of abandonment when in Gods presence. Jacob still loves the Lord and still has his sense of humor. Some things remained the same through their journey.
Parting the Waters is an expression of gratitude from cover to cover. It is a commitment to following God, even if it means going through “the water”. The reader is submerged face first into a mother’s worst nightmare and emerges a broken but new creature with her. You can-not read this book without conceding that there is a plan to even the tragedies we experience. I have a feeling the ripple effect from Parting the Waters will be far reaching and to a degree that Damoff could never have estimated.
Paperback: 256 pages
Released October 9, 2008