REMEMBER THE WAY
by: Julie Johnson
Several months ago, I discovered a lump in my chest.
The first two times I said that sentence out loud, my voice caught on something – anxiousness, sadness, the realization I could cause my family grief. I assured the recipients of the news it was nothing. I was tough, strong, the whole bit.
In September, I began the process of seeing a doctor. This will not make sense to you, but it’s the way the Lord planned it: I ended up in my dermatologist’s office. After the examination, he said, “I don’t think it’s anything. But I want to see if I can get you an appointment with an appropriate doctor. If I can’t, I will schedule you for an ultrasound.”
I’m pretty good to have as a sidekick during emergencies. I’m calm when it comes to others (though adrenaline-y). What’s frustrating is that I cannot control how my body reacts to being in a doctor’s office. Or how it reacts to being examined. Or how it reacts to words being spoken. I’ve been on the brink of passing out enough times to know the drill. What I’m saying is this: An ultrasound sounded decent. The idea of a mammogram did not.
My next appointment involved both.
I sat in the waiting room with my mom. I ate lunch. A lady from the finance department called me to her cubicle. I felt the urge to spill my guts, to tell her how I am a horrible patient because my insides betray me. I sat there. Friendly as could be. Answering all of her questions with an added, “Thank you,” here and there. Finally, I asked her, “Do you have any advice?”
Yes. She said. Yes. She too had many near misses when it came to these sorts of things. She knew exactly what I was talking about. She even had a name for it per her doctor. I felt relieved. Taken care of. Not being alone really is powerful knowledge. Not to mention, I had friends/co-workers/friends praying for me, asking the Lord of all to prohibit me from passing out.
Before the appointment, I went to the ladies’ room because my nervous bladder was super nervous and super full. In my moment of calm and quiet, I talked to God. I whispered to my God, “Be with me, beside me.” We both know God is always here. Near. Always with His children. What I was facing, though, what I was on the verge of embarking upon – I didn’t need answers. I didn’t need a plan. I wasn’t looking for a clean bill of health. I didn’t want to seek promises of ease and comfort. What my heart needed was to know without a doubt, my Jesus was with me. If I hurt, I needed Him by my side. If I felt weak, I needed Him by my side. In my secret moments of being scared, I needed Him by my side.
My name was called. I followed a nurse to a room a few doors down. She reassured me she had no intention of letting me pass out. I laughed. In the middle of the mess, I laughed. We talked about my interest of being a detective. And how she passed out c-o-l-d while watching an autopsy. We talked about her dogs and how one had been abused.
“I’m so glad this room has a window,” I said. It helped me focus on something other than what was happening to my body. I watched cars and people and clouds. “It’s the only room of this sort that has one,” she said. I knew instantly God prepared it for me. The window was too important for it not to have been from my Father.
After all the tests were completed, I went back to the waiting room. I prepared my mom, “I think something’s wrong.” The second technician was equally as nice as the first. I noticed, though, the ultrasound paddle she was using stayed in one spot a very long, difficult, painful amount of time. So I asked her. “What’s going on?” I explained how I prefer to be given off-the-record bad news before the official on-the-record bad news. It helps me process, I said. Her lips held tight. She couldn’t confirm nor deny.
Yet, I was calm. Though the examining team gave me no absolutes, God did. He allowed me to wonder, but He held back the fear and pushed through with peace.
The doctor sent for me. My mom and I went to a small little room and sat on a small little couch. The doctor walked in, introduced himself. Shook my hand. Met my eyes. “The mammogram was clear,” he began, “but the ultrasound found a mass in a spot away from the original issue.” He said non-cancerous masses were smooth, but what he saw from my ultrasound was smooth on top and jagged on bottom. He could not say with certainty whether or not this thing inside me was or was not dangerous. He went on to give the size and explained how, even if it were cancer, it was so small it would be easy to take care of. Hopefully, though, a biopsy would show it to be benign.
“Do you have any questions?” He sat in his chair, his eyes still with mine. He didn’t look away. What God did was send me a doctor who had nothing better to do and who was willing to wait for me.
“No,” I said. “Not right - Actually, yes. I do.” I paused. And apologized. Recapped for this man what just happened. “I said I didn’t have any questions, but as I was saying that, I realized I do. So I’m not sure why I said what I said.” He chuckled. “It’s okay,” he assured me. I may have taken a breath.
I asked my question, which boiled down to me asking this long-suffering doctor to repeat himself. He obliged. “Even if it is something,” he reassured me, “it’s very small.”
The morning of my biopsy, I ate a good breakfast and went for an hour’s walk. I felt fine about things – until I arrived at the clinic. Hearing people talk and make noise nauseated me. The TV in the waiting room was airing a Rachel Ray show. She was super pumped about some men cooking Italian food. I was not. At all. A nurse called for me before any damage was done. I was half-and-half relieved.
I entered the room, ready to tell all who would listen how weak of a stomach I have and how I didn’t want to know the nitty gritty details of what was to come. What I found behind Door No. 1, though, was one of you.
I wouldn’t find out until after the biopsy, but what God gave me while I was exposed and vulnerable and not sure about days to come was a member of Ridgecrest. Someone who comforted me and assured me the next few moments would be all right. She was kind and gentle. Though she had a job to do, she made sure I was good.
The afternoon of my first exams, sitting in the ladies’ room, with unknowns taking over, I spoke to our Creator and asked Him to be by my side. Not across the room. Not at the foot of the exam table. But right next to me. I had no right to do so. I’ve not been kind to Him lately. I’ve been short and unloving, ungrateful.
I didn’t need to ask Him of His whereabouts. He had already shown me. The words I spoke were for me so that I could focus on Him.
Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”
Christian, remember the whole way the Lord your God has led you. Remember how He delivered you. Remember how He rescued you. Remember the times He brought unexpected, deep-down, from-the-belly joy. Pay special care in recalling the moments you knew without a doubt He was with you. Then tell others your story about Jesus.
Note: The biopsy showed the mass to be benign.
Note: The biopsy showed the mass to be benign.