Heading into my second week, post bi-lateral breast implant “explant” surgery, I’ve discovered that recovery, whatever we are recovering from, in my case recovering from yet another major surgery associated with my breast cancer journey, takes an enormous amount of faith in an outcome that is at the mercy of a lot of things beyond our individual control.
For someone like me, who likes their life rather tidy and orderly, it is a difficult thing to have to ride a roller coaster of pain, emotions, and uncertainty in yet another surgical recovery, and it becomes even more complicated when “doubt” creeps in to cast a shadow on what has, in essence, been a text book recovery for me so far.
I want to talk about my “doubt” because it has little do with recovering from an actual surgical procedure. It’s more complex than that.
My “doubt” has never stemmed from a decision to have a particular surgery, no matter the complications. Nor has my “doubt” ever been due to a lack of trust in my surgical team’s competence. I have been blessed with the best and brightest the medical community has to offer in every single instance. Lastly, and most importantly, my “doubt” has never been about a lack of faith that God will help me or that He will put others in my life to help me. My eyes have been opened to the miracle of God’s grace time and time again in each of my surgical journeys and in all aspects of my life, so I don’t for a moment doubt God’s existence in my life.
But I’ve noticed a pattern of “doubt” that manifests within me during each surgical recovery, that instead of just embracing these things as my truth, I spend an awful lot of time questioning God as to whether or not I am worthy of continuing to being blessed with yet another chance at this crazy life of mine.
Despite my faith in God, I’ve discovered that my “doubt” and “worthiness” over receipt of God’s amazing grace, time and time again, weighs on me because I am very aware that there are so many people out there suffering all sorts of ailments who have not been equally blessed.
And the fact remains, that regardless of being a good person, many people do not have the opportunities that I have had, with access to the best in healthcare, a loving and supportive caregiver in my husband, the best support team in my kids, friends, church and extended family, and all sorts of strangers, who, along the way, have blessed me over and over again and helped me quickly get back on my feet.
So, my “doubt” centers a lot around, “Why me?” What is so special about me that I should be able to test the surgical hands of fate time and time again and recover in a way that affords me the opportunity to get back to life rather quickly and share that story with others, when so many others are not able to do so?
In the quiet of the night, I lie awake and ponder this question and maybe because this was surgery number seventeen, I’m pondering it now a bit more. I mean it’s quite reasonable when you are coming close to running out of fingers and toes to count your surgeries on, that questioning God about how much longer this gravy train is going to last is a rather human thing to do, right?
Then again, I wonder if in questioning God, I seem ungrateful?
I am very grateful. Grateful for each new day and I don’t take for granted anything about being able to wake up and go to sleep and wake up again. There is a satisfaction and peace that comes with knowing that’s possible for me and yet, the “doubt” comes.
Although I am grateful, I feel “unworthy” of all that has been afforded me and my mind races trying to pinpoint the exact moment when God said,
“Here is Anne, someone worthy of saving, over and over and over again.”
I have been blessed to live a privileged life and I know it. But I am also keenly aware that I’ve worked hard for it and continue to work hard for it. It hasn’t always been easy and trust me, after seventeen surgeries, I don’t think anyone will have a problem with me saying that I’ve grown weary of hospital gowns and handsome anesthesiologists and even medical miracles.
I’m kind of over the excitement of the operating room, grateful as I am for it.
As I was pondering what I would say in my blog, a thought came to me last night that maybe I’m looking at this whole thing the wrong way. I mean a lot of times when life seems complex, God points us to the fact that things really aren’t as complicated as we humans tend to make it, so, maybe that’s the case in this instance as well?
Maybe, my health journey and my role in sharing my journey, including discovering my possible, is not rooted in the details of my own personal success stories?
Maybe it has nothing to do with my start or my finish. My beginning, my middle, my end.
Could it be that it is as simple as one human planting positive seeds of faith by openly sharing their story of being a broken, vulnerable human with other broken, vulnerable human beings?
Is it plausible that God is using my journey, including my “doubts”, my wrong turns, my fears of “unworthiness” and lack of value and the sharing of the crosses that I bear, to somehow allow others to see more clearly through their own doubts, and fears, giving them the courage to share their own stories of hope in the face of despair?
“Here is Anne, someone I am using on earth to tell her story so that others may find happiness and joy in their own journey of discovery.”
I had a text from a friend this past week that, and the more I think about it, confirmed this theory. She had shared my blog from last week with a family member who was struggling with her own breast implant reconstruction and my friend shared the response text from the family member with me. I will leave the contents of it private except to say that the text was not about the further sharing of details of this person’s health issues, or exchanging medical advice, or about wanting any sort of resolution for this individual. Instead, the text simply shared that my words brought this person comfort. That my words would be shared by this person with other individuals they knew when the time was right and the circle of comfort would continue because I had chosen to share my journey in a public way.
That’s powerful and humbling and huge.
No wonder I feel a bit unworthy of it all!
But there it is. This must be how God is using me. Using my situation, every surgery, every stumble in my recovery, every scary monster that I have faced in the past few years to encourage me to help others to put one foot in front of the other and fight.
I really do need to accept this challenge from God and move on from my “doubts.”
An image of human hands holding human hands comes to mind. Each individual hand cold, full of doubts, and fears and feelings of unworthiness. But join these hands together and suddenly where once flesh was cold, there is now warmth. The warmth of human kindness. God’s gift to us.
A circle of comfort!
I am excited to share this warmth with my readers, with anyone in need. I am excited that though I could have done without seventeen surgeries, if this is what it takes to help me find my path, my possible, my voice in the world, and in doing so, I help others, then God has served me well.
I can only hope I remain a worthy, humble servant. No more doubts!
Won’t you join me and share your story too?!!!