After a routine check up last week, I had a minor health scare that required more testing.
I consider myself really healthy in general and don’t flip out when I get sick, because the worst that happens to me is I get a cold for a few days in winter. But this was potentially more serious. And for the first time, the state of my health worried not just me but my husband.
I was angry. I try my best to take care of my body: I eat pretty healthy (fruits and veggies are main courses for me at most meals, but I’m normal, and I like ice cream and french fries as much as the next person); I run, row, and lift weights a minimum of three times per week; I spend plenty of time outdoors; I don’t smoke; I only drink socially. Why, God, is this test returning something other than a perfectly healthy result?
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry. Psalm 18:6-7
I tried to hold it together in the doctor’s office but couldn’t help leaking a few nervous tears while the gentle nurse explained what was going to happen next. Then I tried to hold it together when explaining to my husband later that evening what was going to happen next, but in front of someone who means so much to me and for whom I want to be my best, the tears flowed more forcefully.
I’m not scared of a malignant diagnosis, a painful treatment, or further down the road, death. But I am afraid of not being able to do all the things I’ve dreamed about for my life:
- Work further up my career path
- Travel and explore with my husband and friends
- Have children
- Watch my friends’, and hopefully my siblings/cousins children, grow up
- Keep running
I rest secure in the thought of spending eternity with God and my family. But there’s so much I want to do here on Earth before then.
Husband was sweet: “I’m coming to your appointment on Monday.”
Me: “Babe, thank you, but I don’t think they’ll allow you to come back in the operating rooms. Your time will probably be better spent at work.”
Husband: “So I’ll sit in the waiting room. I’m coming.”
Me: “What if it’s malignant? What are we going to do? I’m not ready to change my lifestyle. I’m not okay with giving up or postponing the dreams we have for a family. I’m already in my thirties.”
Husband (taking a few deep breaths): “We’ll be okay. You’re not having to change anything about your lifestyle yet. Everything could turn out fine! And if it doesn’t? If we have to change our plans for kids because of your health? There are plenty of children waiting to be adopted. And I can do that if your health comes to that. All day, every day.”
He was scared, too, and while curled up and blubbering in front of him, I realized: There is a time for everything, and my time for curling up and blubbering about this obstacle is about over. God promises us protection and peace if we will give up our sense of control and give our lives over to Him. He doesn’t promise a smooth ride. But He knows what He’s doing. He’s working in my life in ways I don’t yet understand. Maybe this health news will turn out to be nothing serious. Maybe it will be serious, but will also be a lesson about how to take better care of myself, or how someone connected to me needs to take better care of themselves.
Maybe it will just be a small reminder that He protects me, even when I think I’m strong enough. He made me, and He promises to take care of me, especially when my own runaway worries are my worst enemy.
For example: While holding a plank during my workout the other day, my mind drifted to an ex, and started revving up with thoughts of what he might be doing, and what I might be missing out on since we’ve forked off on separate lives. Almost as fast as those thoughts started chipping away at me, though, another voice chimed in:
“You are so much stronger now than you ever were with him.”
Physically, mentally, and emotionally, it’s true. I’m a much more resilient, mature person now than I was with him, and stronger than I probably ever would have become if we were still together. I’m proud of that, and grateful for the growth God has pushed me through since ex and I parted ways. When that growth was painful and felt like a black hole swallowing me, He showed me how to retreat into the protection offered by His Word and His Church.
But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! Psalm 18:16-19, MSG
Now, faced with a different type of void, Husband was echoing that vow of protection from an ocean of chaos right when I needed to hear it most: I love you, and I will be your rock when you’re crumbling. It doesn’t matter that you think you don’t need this protection. I’m going to wrap my arms around you, walk with you and stand by you.
So I let my husband come to the clinic with me, and I let him be the best coffee-drinking, magazine-flipping protector he could be from the waiting room.
Today, my doctor called and delivered great news: All is fine.
I am healthy, safe, loved, and protected. He loves us so much.
Husband and I quietly celebrated with …pizza. Something healthy like a salad can wait until tomorrow.
Thank you God, and thank you husband for being my protectors. Thank you for marking out my race for me, and for the reminder that if the course doesn’t go the way I anticipate it will, the best choice – the only choice – is to watch, listen, follow Your path and work out the details in faith and trust.
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can [run through a barricade];
with my God I can scale a wall. Psalm 18:28-29, NIV