I got my diagnosis on my mom’s birthday. That just doesn’t seem right does it? My surgery was that Friday, only five days later. What a whirlwind week it was. My parents dropped everything and drove to St. Louis to be with us, even though my dad was a pastor with a busy schedule. I don’t remember how many days I had to stay in the hospital, I think only two. I just remember with clarity an early morning blood draw to check my white cell count to see if I could go home.
Shortly after the lab tech left the room, my dad walked in. He was carrying his garment bag and told me he was about to go back home but wanted to come see me first. While he was with me, my surgeon, Dr. Billy, came in to tell me that my levels were low and I was going to have to stay longer in the hospital. My heart sunk into a fearful thought that there might be more cancer. Then Dr. Billy noticed they had drawn blood out of the arm that had an IV and it had diluted the blood sample. He had them come back in and draw from my other arm, it was okay, and I was able to go home!
It may not sound like a big deal, but it helped so much that my dad was there. I didn’t have to be alone through that brief unsettling moment. He was thinking of me that morning and wanted me to know. He was there because he loves me. What did I do to get my dad to love me? Not a thing. He just loves me because I’m his daughter. I really don’t think there is anything I could do to make him stop loving me either.
God reminded me this week that He loves me. I still need those reminders. What have I done to deserve His love? Nothing. Don’t need to. He just loves me. I read Psalm 139, a passage I’ve read so many times and for the first time was struck by this verse: “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” It hit me: God thinks about me? He thinks about me so much the thoughts outnumber the sand? The realization was amazing and wonderful and comforting.
There’s a lot of pressure from within me and without to try to be perfect, to do everything right, to be a “good” Christian by doing lots of good stuff, to always be unselfish, to not mess up, to always have it all together. You know what? That’s a losing battle! No matter how hard I try, I make mistakes and miss the mark over and over. There are so many times I feel I don’t have it together I’ve lost count. God reminded me that his love doesn’t depend on those things. In fact, I think He would rather me just rest in His love. How I wish I could get my heart and mind to fully accept and grasp that and that I wouldn’t beat myself up over “failures” but be confident in God’s love.
Rewind to that Monday afternoon before my mastectomy surgery, the day I got my diagnosis. After hearing Dr. Billy say I had cancer and that he recommended surgery right away, John and I walked to the front desk in somewhat of a stupor to schedule pre-surgery testing and so forth. It seemed the receptionist’s voice was down a long tunnel and I was drifting away inside, fear rising up, my mind racing to worst case scenarios. I told her I felt I was going to pass out so she told me I should sit down in the waiting room. There was no one else there.
John ran downstairs to get me a Sprite and she, the receptionist and also Dr. Billy’s wife, came to sit by me. I was leaning over with my head on my knees when she put her arm around me and said, “It’s okay to be afraid. You don’t have to try to be strong.” The tears came in a rush and I leaned over onto her crying. She squeezed my shoulder and said, “You know, Michele, knowing the diagnosis you were going to receive today, Dr. Billy and I have been praying for you.”
In that moment, clear as can be, I saw God as if He was standing around the bend on a curved path in a sunny place, looking back toward me with his hand outstretched. At that moment I knew without a doubt He had been preparing the way for me and was with me all along, even though the time waiting for test results was filled with anxiety. I had been crying out to Him asking Him to help me not be afraid. Now, finally, peace covered me from head to toe. The fear left when I remembered and realized He was there.
He was there with me the whole time. He was there with me at that moment and would always be.
Because He loves me.