There’s something you need to know about me.
I’m that sick girl.
You know, the one always battling an illness.
And when I say sick girl, I mean the kind who fought cancer twice by the age of 26, the first time while pregnant. The laundry list of my ailments is long—10 life-threatening illnesses, four near-death experiences over the course of 20 years—long. But my most recent medical oddity was when I grew a round knot the size of an extra-large egg out of the center of my chest.
I can’t make this stuff up.
Praise God my hard lump was only a cyst. But in the middle of my chest?
My illnesses are not a trophy I hold high for the world to see, but one I desperately desire to hide from, because I’ve always wanted to be the normal girl. (Ha! I just laughed a little after typing that last sentence.)
You see, one of the most profound quotes I read after battling an illness was by a Hospice nurse who said,
“Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”
“Oh,” was the only word I sighed out after contemplating this semi-truth.
Because there was a time when I wanted to temporarily transfer my pain with a simple
handshake and tell those complaining about their job or their marriage or whatever non-health related struggle they were facing that, “If you can somewhat jog without gasping and never have felt a day of debilitating bed-ridden fatigue, you have nothing to complain about.”
But I couldn’t.
Typically, non-sick people don’t understand their gift of health until they no longer have it.
I surely didn’t. At least, that was the way the 25-year-old me felt. It has taken many years, but I’m still learning that what I can do after facing so many sicknesses is empathize with others crawling through an illness, and maybe help alter their perspectives a tad.
I get it.
Sickness is a stinky place to be…until the day you realize it isn’t.
There is a different type of freedom that surfaces the day you understand that your life really
isn’t yours…regardless of how rotten you feel. That each day you wake, you have a choice to
wallow (and there will be days like this), or seek out God’s goodness that He desires to show
you, because you’ll never have this day again with your spouse, your children, your parents,
or your friends.
What if you woke today and knew you only had 24 hours left to live?
Would this change your thoughts, reactions, and how you spend your time?
I may always be that professional patient, but each morning when I wake, I have to choose how to live for that day. Whether I’m a seeker of joy, or grumbling in grief…I decide.
We all do.
Who I have believed that I am for so long has only been a tool He has wanted to use. Because the truth is, if I wasn’t diagnosed with a football-sized tumor in my chest with my first baby, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
My sicknesses saved my marriage by softening my stubborn heart.
My sickness opened my eyes to adoption, because If I wasn’t told I couldn’t have more children after the months of chemotherapy made me infertile, I never would have adopted a daughter from China. And if my sickness wouldn’t have made me so fatigued, I never would have stayed home with my kiddos and homeschooled them.
This life wasn’t a path I picked, but one I’m now so thankful I’ve walked along. I just wish I
would have walk along it more cheerfully.
It’s amazing how sickness can make you spiritually well. It humbles your heart, drives you to
your knees, and teaches you how to fully lean on Him (Proverbs 3:5-6), because the ultimate
truth is our days are numbered (Psalm 136:16).
We choose daily to either run this race of life with perseverance, or run our mouth, complaining our time away.
What if that hardship you’re facing was the catalyst that leads to ultimate healing?
I think I’d like to alter Bonnie’s quote above:
"Sickness brings a freedom very few realize, until they walk through it.
It’s the freedom to look at life through God’s eyes, choosing what to do with the
limited time we have left."
What will you do with the next 24 hours?
The choice is yours.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-3a (NIV)
- Dabney Hedgard