It all hit within 48 hours of one another.
First, my husband left for a week of work travel overseas while our two daughters were sick, hacking and sneezing in between fever-induced sleep. Then, I received word that my dad was admitted to a South American hospital with COVID. Finally, the blow: a pelvic exam that warranted surprise ultrasounds. I was two steps out of my doctor’s office when my discouragement rose with a resurgence.
In the days leading up to the tests, my mind became a breeding ground for every possible scenario (Side note: attempting to self-diagnose with “Dr. Google” is never a good idea). My emotions teetered on a pendulum between trust and terror.
God is in all of this… I’m going to be okay.
This is it… I’ve got cancer. What if it’s terminal?
One Diagnosis After Another
As I tried to relax my body and drift off to sleep the night before my tests, the fears snuck in as unwanted companions to all my unanswered questions. I could already hear the sorrowful tone in my doctor’s voice as she delivered the prognosis. Worst-case scenarios played out in my mind while I broke into a cold sweat and my gut churned in defiance.
I know this must all sound negative and even overreactive. But fears around health have eaten away at me for the last twelve months, leaving a metallic taste in my mouth. My younger years were marked by physical, emotional, and mental challenges that carried over into adulthood. My struggle with health ultimately inspired me to study, learn, and become certified as a wellness coach. I wanted to walk alongside other women navigating similar struggles.
But after battling COVID, mono, pneumonia, shingles, and then a surprise autoimmune diagnosis for my youngest daughter this last year, I felt like I’d been beaten in a cosmic arm-wrestling match. By the time my doctor felt masses in my pelvis, I was numb and dulled by the ache of sickness and exhaustion.
How Should We Respond to a Health Scare?
Health scares have a way of waking a person up, though. I know it may be cliche to say, but like an electric surge of energy, the scare jolts one to the realities of her life. It allows her to examine her days introspectively before God. She asks herself, “How should I live and love right now, at this moment, because I may only have a limited amount of time left here?”
Isn’t this the question we should all ask ourselves, no matter what our health status looks like? The reality is we’re all dying. It may be depressing to acknowledge or think about, but we need a wake-up call every once in a while.
The morning of my tests, I stumbled into the living room and poured myself a coffee. I paused and watched as my dog shifted onto his back in a lazy daze, his paws shooting upward toward the ceiling. I lit a candle and stared as the light danced across the room. I noted the warmth and nutty aroma of the coffee as it slid down my throat. These tiny shreds of goodness were ones I often glossed over and ignored.
The fog of discouragement I’d been fighting against the last year was gradually lifting, and I could feel the changes taking place within. During those days of waiting for the results, it was as though the clogged valve of stagnation, fear, and exhaustion began to release and flow out of me. I became more attentive to the needs of others around me. I spoke with more patience to my daughters. I laughed and played without restraint. I spotted what was around me and noticed all the blessings I often took for granted. There was an overwhelming desire to make amends and let go of the emotional weight of any unforgiveness I still harbored.
This newfound lens of capturing the small glories of my life reminded me of the lyrics in a Tim McGraw song, “Live Like You Were Dying”:
“Asked when it sank in, that this might really be the real end
[…] And he says,
‘I went sky divin’
I went Rocky Mountain climbin’
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying
And he said someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’.”
Though I didn’t go skydiving or ride a bull, it was as though God was saying, “I am waking you up to the goodness in front of you, Rachel.”
A New Appreciation for What’s In Front of Me
No matter what the results of the tests were nor how many more times my body capsized under sickness, He was waking me up to the gifts I hadn’t been able to see because I hadn’t wanted to before. I had zeroed in on what could be taken from me rather than what was being handed to me.
Psalm 116:7 (NLT) says, “Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.” Our souls can be at rest, even amid trials, when we name the gifts God relishes upon us with abundance. I know all of this can be exceedingly hard to conjure up when we’re facing an unknown diagnosis or are exhausted by the weight of life circumstances.
Yet, our faith asks us to hold unrelenting trust in the only One who knows the outcome. So stay present and alert each day, dear Sister. We’re all here for a finite time, so why not live as though we’re dying?
Struggling to find your faith amid a season of health scares? Here’s why you can hold onto hope: