So much has happened these past couple months. My grandma went into hospice then a week later she passed away. Then another week later we had her memorial. I wasn't broken hearted as she lived a full, long life but her departure was still painful as we were in relationship with one another. We laughed and chatted on the phone and I couldn't visit Chicago without seeing her, sitting at her feet, listening to her stories. In the last week's of her life I logged 36 hours of driving back and forth from Columbus to Chicago without blinking. She wanted to be surrounded by family so we went.
In the midst of that time, my mother in law who relocated to Columbus from Chicago a year ago had a cancer scare herself. Thank God it wasn't but her tumor still had to be removed. The surgery was scheduled the day after we got back from my Grandma's memorial. The surgery was a success and they removed what they had to get her healthy once again.
In the midst of those two monumental things happening, I started to feel choked out when I would lay down. I almost didn't want to tell my husband this was going on because of everything going on with his mother and my grandmother. Lying in bed one evening I nervously shared that something was going on with my neck/throat area. His eyes widened and he went into full fire fighter/EMT mode and began palpating my neck and asking questions. He could feel the lump on the left side of my neck. It jumped when I swallowed. I had a feeling it was my thyroid. My mother had thyroid issues and a lot of symptoms I was suffering from started to make sense. My fatigue, weight gain, and joint pain might not be because I was getting older and working too hard. My thyroid might be the culprit. I decided to change my eating lifestyle thinking (really, being directed by God) it might be Hashimoto's Disease, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid. I chose the Paleo diet for many reasons; the most significant being it's an excellent diet to combat Hashimoto's.
Before my appointment, I already started to see many of my symptoms clear up including the choking feeling at night. I could feel the inflammation in my whole body decrease. My initial doctor's visit begat a battery of tests- blood, ultrasound, and finally a biopsy. The doctor told me in no uncertain terms it could be cancer- a word I never thought I'd hear in my 30's.
But to God be the glory. He placed a peace so deep in my bones that, while I was concerned and grieved for all that was going on around me and happening to me, the Evil One did not and could not steal my joy and sure footedness. It was God who sustained me. I was surprised at how calm I was. I myself could not explain it. But my results were not in yet. So the waiting started. I wouldn't receive the biopsy results back for 7-10 days. Uggggg. So I prayed and asked for prayer and waited and waited and waited.
Last Sunday morning, nine days after my biopsy, I was chatting on the phone with my hubby. He was already at the fire station for the day and I was lazing about the bed when an email notification rang. It was from my doctors office. I quickly got off the phone with him promising to call him back after I read the results. Of course it was in doctor language but thank God I received my degree in reading medical test results in 'Doctor' from Google University. I looked for one word- benign. And I found it! I called Harlan back, told him the good news and we 'yayed' together. He asked me how I felt and I said relieved and then he had an emergency run come in over the loudspeaker from dispatch. He had to go. We quickly said our 'goodbyes' and 'be safes' and hung up.
I got ready for church and decided to celebrate with a tea from Starbucks. While in the drive-thru I turned on the radio and Lexi's song In the Room came on.
'Completely unmistakably broken.....' That was it. I COMPLETELY lost it. I was boo-hoo-only-in-your-house ugly crying. I couldn't control it. This wave of raw, utter emotion had taken over. My cry was the intermingling of lament, a release of stress, and a deep deep gratitude for what God had done. I took a couple of deep breaths, enough to eek out my order and when I pulled away from the speaker it's like it intensified. Now I was doubled over the steering wheel. I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view......a hot mess. Eyes electric pink but I was gonna get my tea dammit. I rolled up to the window crying when the cashier looked at me. 'Awwwww are you ok?' I couldn't talk so I nodded yes. 'Are you sure?' The only thing I could do is nod, point to my throat and whisper whimper out 'no cancer'. I shoved a $5 bill through the window. She started to tear up and said 'congratulations' fiddled around a bit at the window and emerged with a gift card. 'Congrats again. Here's a coffee on us.' I thanked her in between sobs, rolled away and cried all the way to church, eeking out 'Thank you Jesus' ever so often. This was such good news after a deluge of death and cancer looming way too close to our family. I was levitating. My God had done something miraculous and I learned so much about myself in the process.
1. I had a choice to make. Choose to trust and praise God when I got the outcome I desired or trust God throughout the journey and praise him whatever the outcome. This time I chose the latter. But I didn't choose it because I'm some amazing super Christian. Practice makes perfect and I've failed and chosen the first option many many times before this experience.
2. When you're in the midst of a trial, the enemy will double, triple, and even quadruple down on his attack. The attacks in this season were all health related. My grandmother dying from colon cancer. My mother in law having an ovarian cancer scare. My thyroid cancer scare. And if that wasn't enough just to sprinkle a little more stress on the situation, every single person in our household got a violent stomach virus the week after we returned from my grandmother's memorial. We fell like dominos. First Harlan, then my youngest Noah, then my oldest Josh, and finally me. But it has been prophesied to me a year before all this happened that 'they will try to silence you'. 'They' I understood to mean the Evil One and his henchmen. So I was not surprised that cancer and no other place than my throat would be the area of focus- the thyroid is very close to the vocal cords and nerves that supply sensation to that area. Cancer or even a surgery meant the risk of permanently altering my voice, losing the ability to sing altogether, or possibly not being able to talk at all. None of those options sat well l in my flesh or spirit.
3. The attack is strategic and well-planned. It's purpose is to distract you from YOUR God-given purpose. I was closing out a chapter in my life I called 'groundhog's day'. I sensed God calling me to return to some places and situations that I didn't finish well the first time and I was well on my way to doing so. I also have felt the call to minister to women and give voice to the many Jesus followers that may feel maligned or marginalized because they don't quite fit the traditional church mold we're all supposed to conform to. I was sent a distraction (health issues) which in a different season would've paralyzed my life. The specific attack on my thyroid was also to silence me from talking about God and taking the next steps in my purpose. So again I had a choice to make- abandon all my responsibilities or push through, finish well, and keep speaking about and praising God right up to the very end. Again I chose the latter but not without failing numerous times before.
4. There are many tests and trials of our faith and we will inevitably fail. It's not about failing, it's about what you do after you fail. Again we have a choice. We can always stay down and roll about in our despair, denying who we really are by the mere lack of resiliency. But there's a better choice. Get up, pick up your crown, place it back on your head, and press on forward mined with a laser-like focus on God. You choose.