I struggled to get out of bed today.
Despite a bluebird sky and abundant sunshine, my soul was heavy, seemingly anchoring me to the bed. Another day of waiting, another moment of crippling fear and depression trying to steal the day from me. The enemy had his claws in me, threatening to take me away to devour.
I noticed some strange pain and bloating a few weeks ago. Ironically, while visiting a friend who had just had surgery for similar reasons, I voiced my concerns. Thankfully her nudges landed me promptly in my doctor’s office (a place I constantly avoid at all costs) and a few days later with a diagnosis…an ovarian cyst.
Of course off I go, consulting friends and Dr. Google (curse that never-ending worm hole!), my mind spinning with what and why and when and how. My husband and I have a trip and I debate cancelling, but then I figure I might as well get some rest and relaxation in while I can, so thankfully we go. Although I’m mildly uncomfortable and on an emotional roller coaster, I am surrounded by the most amazing people who speak truth into me when I need it most. I spend precious quiet time with my husband and my mom. The giant oaks and Spanish moss and ocean breeze are medication for my soul.
Until the phone call from my doctor.
This isn’t the type of growth that will go away on its own, she mentions…it has to come out surgically. Also I have a slightly elevated levels of cancer markers in my blood test, so they want to schedule my surgery with an oncologist. They tell me my cyst is roughly 10cm. Not too big I think.
Until I’m having a conversation with a friend about all the information I’ve just received and realized I have miscalculated. I was thinking in millimeters.
My cyst is roughly the size of a GRAPEFRUIT.
Oh. My. Goodness.
It’s fine. It’s fine! Everything’s fine. Is it fine? What if it isn’t fine? What should I do? Should I move? Should I lie down? How is it just floating around in there?! Should I go home?! I want to go home!! I want to see my kids! Will I see my kids again? What do I do?!!!
I calm down(ish) and make some phone calls to schedule the MRI and the meeting with the surgeon, which all seem like light-years away. Until then, all I can do is…wait.
Wait and pray it doesn’t burst.
Wait and pray there’s no cancer.
Wait and pray I survive the surgery.
Wait and pray that they don’t have to do a complete hysterectomy.
Wait and pray, wait and pray, wait and pray…
When I was a waitress, almost 20 years ago now, one of my regulars used to tell me I had the patience of Job. Not being raised with bible knowledge, I didn’t really understand the reference. With some quick research, I learned that he was a good and successful man that was tested by God and still managed to keep his faith. But I never did read his full story.
It’s not a particularly uplifting story, but definitely one about the pain of waiting. Job was subjected to enormous suffering, an unsupportive spouse and friends, and enormous frustration in trying to understand the reason for his suffering. He claimed he did everything right. He was arguably the first person who cried out, “why, God?”. Since those ancient days, it has been proven time and time again that most likely we will never know why, but our unshakable God does. After extensive groaning and pleading, Job surrenders and humbles himself fully to God, and is eventually provided for ten-fold.
I took comfort in relating to Job’s cries as I read each chapter; I needed someone at my pity party. Although I didn’t loose my children, all my belongings or break out in painful boils (I mean, poor Job had it rough!) I had my own suffering to dwell in and grumble about. An unexpected health scare, of which I still don’t know the outcome. Two canceled winter break trips. Debilitating pain leaving little for me to do but sit around the house (ok, so there’s a silver lining in that…although my messy house is driving me a little nuts).
I look around outside of my own circumstances and see so much pain. I’ve had a friend loose a child recently. Others unsure if their marriage will survive another day. Friends losing parents and trying to best care for sick children. Human suffering isn’t uniquely mine, and I’ve been spared more than I probably deserve. Sadness, despair, injustice…why, God?
Like Job, we’re angry, we are confused, desperate and tired of suffering. We want reasons, answers, justification. We want to know how it all ends.
But then God humbly reminds us…that’s My job.
And so we are reminded, although we stomp our feet and pout about it, that as much as we want answers and want them now, we must wait and hope and trust. While we desperately search for truth on the internet or in people’s opinions or out in the world, that only God is all-knowing and understanding and truth bearing.
It’s in the waiting that we grow our faith.
I managed to drag myself out of bed eventually, and one of the first things I noticed were my houseplants, withering and drooping from neglect. Slowly but surely, I filled up an old plastic cup leftover from a college football game (I’m a sucker for a souvenir cup, mind you) and gave each one some life-giving water.
One by one, I was reminded of how we can become so blinded and distracted by fear that we end up forgetting to nourish our hearts and minds. We forget to just be still in God’s goodness and truth and just sit and hold hands with Jesus and tell him how scared we are. We cry and plead and beg for everything to be okay. We pray our cries are heard, even though answers aren’t always given when or how we want them.
We have to trust the waiting.
We must nourish ourselves, a little each day, not on fear of the unknown, but in the goodness of what is known, the goodness of the small moments in front of us. We must rest in the truth that maybe there is no blueprint for life…maybe there are just next steps. There is beauty and light but also loneliness and darkness. There are small steps forward and maybe a few backwards but always security in knowing we are known and loved no matter what.
If I focus and dwell and obsess about my ability to control the unknown, I will miss out on the moments and the memories and the gifts of what is known, what is true in my life now: that life is good, God is good, and that every minute of this life is a gift.
So here I sit, with my blanket and my heating pad and frozen lasagna in the oven, (also trying to figure out what I’m going to watch now that the Winter Olympics is over) realizing that I am…calm. A little bored and uncomfortable, maybe…but at peace. I’ve fought with God these past few days, grumbled and cried and resisted, but now I’m finally ready to receive.
Okay Lord! Here I am! You’re right…you’re the only one who knows. I surrender it all to You. I’m here to be watered.
And just like that, my leaves start to perk up a little.