Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Know

Currently, Katherine’s favorite expression is “I know.” We’re not sure why this is. It could be because it doesn’t contain any hard consonants, which are killing her right now. ‘P’ comes out as an ‘M’ for instance. Mama and Papa sound exactly the same. But the “I know” just glides off her tongue like olive oil over a tomato.

We’ll be rattling on, trying to fill the room with funny, cheerful words, when that forceful “I know” beats us to the punch line. The emphasis is on the second syllable. Coming out of the mouth of that Georgia girl, it’s delivered in a vaguely Wisconsin or Minnesota accent. Although it sounds almost parrot-like at times, it also reminds you of a wise old medicine woman who’s seen it all, done it all, and could write a book about it if she could still hold a pen. The wisdom of the ages is contained within that confident, emphatic “I know.”

Perhaps it is that Katherine is trying to let us know that it’s all still in there. She may not be able to speak it yet, she may have suffered some short-term memory loss, but it’s still there. Everything that makes her Katherine. Twenty six years of loving, learning, leaping, losing, leaning on God...a young life’s cumulative experiences....have not been wiped out by this devastation.

Maybe one day she’ll tell us of the “treasures in the darkness” she’s received during her time in the cave. I am praying that God will restore her true voice and that eventually she’ll be shouting out to the mountaintops the revelatory wisdom she’s received in the crucible of suffering.

In the meantime, the reiterated “I know’s” challenge me to define what I truly know. When I was on a study abroad program in Russia during the Cold War, our group was smuggled into a (relatively) luxurious ‘writer’s colony’ close to where Pasternak wrote Dr. Zhivago. We were the guests of Yuri Nagibin, a writer who is as equally esteemed in Russia, although he has not been as widely translated in the West. It was a great honor to be in his home. After a lavish meal, we gathered for an intense discussion conducted in slaughtered Russian and awkward English. He posed a question to the group of young, spoiled Americans: “What do you know?” Think about it for a moment. There was a pregnant pause as each of us tried to figure out the right answer. “What do you really know?”

Nagibin’s questioning helped us to see the dangers inherent in our self-indulgent, affluent society of becoming a nation of dilettantes. Our culture has created an environment where it is easy to have a surface knowledge of a lot of things, but an in-depth knowledge of few. “Don’t know much about history...”as the song boasts. This discussion has haunted me for 28 years.

It challenges me now.

I search through the barrage of thoughts, feelings, inclinations, emotions, and habitual patterns for what I really know. What causes a swelling chorus of “YES!” to resonate through my entire being?

There are many things I don’t know. There are many things I think I know that I don’t. There are many feelings which I erroneously accept as facts.


I know that God is good, even when circumstances are not.
I know that He loves me beyond comprehension.
I know that he will never leave me or forsake me.
I know that He is for me, not against me.
I know that he loves my children even more than I do.

And I know that there’s a happy ending, when He will wipe away every single tear.

Yet I’ve also come to know that it is only in the crucible of suffering that Sunday school platitudes are transformed into certainties.

Jesus loves me, this I know...

Be still and KNOW

...beyond a shadow of a doubt.


paulacrosby said...

Kim, I am so very grateful for your writings. God has given you a very special gift to chronicle the events of Katherine's illness and recovery, and I feel blessed to be able to read your words. I lift Katherine, you,Brooks and the girls up to God in prayer daily. I pray for strength for all of you, as you offer love and support to Katherine, Jay and baby James. I wish I could be there to give you a hug. Please know that I am with you in thought and prayer. I hope to see you soon and please let me know what I can do for you on the Athens front! Hugs and ten million kisses! I love you!

Kristen said...

I am amazed she is saying words...I pray for an encouraging week for you and your family.

Jessica Billings said...

I've been going through a time in my relationship with God where I'm feeling like I really just don't know... I feel like I've always just believed, but I want to know why I do believe... for some reason, reading this made me think about this and was very encouraging. I know that God has worked miracles in Katherine's life and He is working miracles in the lives of those that hear her story. Thank you for sharing your heart during this time - especially to so many strangers. Your words are cathartic to me... I keep coming back wanting more. I'm so glad to hear that Katherine is improving - you all are still in my prayers.

Drew Hill said...

Kim, We saw a video on Youtube of one of the lead singer's from the Hillsong worship band in Australia. He is
singing a song he recently wrote after being diagnosed with an aggressive form
of cancer. Go to and search for "Hillsong Live Healer" and you can watch it. It was encouraging to us and we hope it will be to y'all and Katherine. We also have a cd that we'd like to mail to Katherine. What is a good address to mail it to? Praying for y'all, Drew and Nat

teeter506 said...

You don't know me and I don't know you but I have been reading and praying for your family since my sister shared with me last spring. (she knows the Wolf family) Your writing has blessed me in so many ways, especially today. You don't want or need to know my circumstances, but be assured God is using this blog to minister to others. I was reading past entries to catch up as I have been away for a while and I think it was in the "Roller Coaster" that you talked about being knocked down and getting back up. (I think it is Bill) Charmichael(sp?) - the one who wrote "Butterfly Kisses" - wrote a song titled "We Fall Down" and get up, that speaks of the same. I don't know much about search engines and such, but if you get a chance you might want to try to find that song and listen. Just wanted to share. I am grateful for your wonderful words and willingness to be obediant to this calling that God has placed on you.

Kim Godawa said...

HI Kim,
I have been following your blog since I heard about Catherine on our church prayer blog. Although I don't know her, the postings make me feel as if I do. thank you for being willing to be so honest about faith, uncertainty in the journey, and the need for God's help constantly. As a nurse, I am inspired by Catherine and her progress. I continue to pray for her daily and that God would get so much attention for His grace and love being shown to you and through you.
Kim G.

P.S. A book that may interest you is "How the brain changes itself" written by Norman Doidge, MD. It is the most fascinating book on brain recovery after brain injury that i have read...