Faith | We can understand our heart through adversity in life

My son, Jared, was born with a congenital heart condition — three major things wrong — with the most striking, a single ventricle.

The wall was completely missing between the bottom two chambers of his heart. Therefore, his blood was mixed and much less oxygenated blood as it went through his body. I would go to the grocery store or run errands with a blue baby.

Jared did not grow or gain weight well.

His little brother, Justin — three years younger — was pink and healthy, and as time went on about the same size as his older brother. At stores, I could see the reactions of people, with one gentleman I knew finally asking, “Are they twins?”

Our family prayed for help.

At age 4, Jared’s cardiologist convinced Spokane heart surgeons to operate and correct his condition. (I was thrilled.) Late the night before, the head surgeon came and drew a diagram of what would happen the next day.

My husband looked surprised as he completed the drawing and said, “That’s the wrong procedure.”

The surgeon looked again at the drawing and said, “No, that’s a Rastelli.”.

Again, my husband said, “That drawing is different from what you showed us before.”

The surgeon left, then came back an hour later and humbly stated, “You’re right. Your son needs a Fontan procedure.” He then added, “You know in life, we are here to learn.”

I’ve never forgotten those words from over three decades ago.: “We are here to learn.”

Back then, I was much more comfortable teaching literature or making bread. Transposition of the major vessels, tetralogy of fallot, heart lung machine — the cooling down of my son’s body until the heart stops — none of that was comfortable for me.

So, as our scriptures state, I had to learn. Doctrine and Covenants 19:23, “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.”

The next day Jared returned from a long, nine-hour surgery but he was pink, no longer blue. To me, it was like going from night to day. He was pink!

My husband, a farmer, telling a head heart surgeon he was wrong could have had a very different result had that doctor not had enough humility to acknowledge a mistake.

Do we acknowledge the good, the blessings in our lives and accept the difficulties?

Jared did grow and did learn. He had trials, yes, and several procedures — 13 in all.

In middle school, he experienced heart failure and had a large, distended stomach. At that time, he never got used to hurtful comments that he looked pregnant.

As a high school teacher, I do notice the put downs. Mocking seems accepted.

Yet, no one leaves the person who makes them feel small and says, “Boy, I like them. I want to spend more time with them.”

I learned to ignore those who lacked understanding and tried to grow comfortable with medications, oxygen in the home and blood draws. I was amazed at how Jared could give himself shots in the stomach as needed.

I now realize that his condition helped me to learn patience, compassion and a thorough understanding of the heart — the turning from blue to pink — the acceptance of low, “blue moments” replaced with striving for high “pink moments.”

What trials have helped you, not forced you to learn? What causes you to turn from “blue” to “pink” in living God’s commands?

Our reactions to trials, the large difficulties down to the small worries, help us to learn as we prepare to return to our Father in heaven.

Madge Peterson Kristin Hunt
Madge Peterson Kristin Hunt

Guest Spiritual Life writer Madge Peterson serves as a teen girls’ (11-18) youth leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 4253 W. 24th Ave., Kennewick, WA 99338. Or email