It’s been eight months since I walked through emergency room doors and asked for an MRI of my brain.
I knew something was up. It was the same old feeling I’d had in 1999 when I knew something was seriously wrong with my head. And I was right.
My MRI showed a large SOMETHING.
The problem has been figuring out what it is. My diagnoses have ranged from an aggressive and deadly form of tumor, to multiple sclerosis, and finally to a stroke or bleed in my brain stem.
Over the course of eight months, I’ve been seen by more than seven doctors in multiple hospitals. Every doctor has overturned the diagnosis of the doctor before them.
In a nutshell, I have found this experience frustrating.
Mostly because I haven’t had a treatment plan or a way of determining which of my ever-changing symptoms are important and which are simply oddities.
Illness is frustrating. And exhausting. And often stirs misunderstanding.
Over the past eight months, I’ve come to hate a lot of things about waiting.
- Waiting can suck me into focusing on the injustices of the world (or at least my perception of injustice), Like why I’ve been billed near six figures for so many conflicting diagnoses. Pain so easily shifts our focus away from others and onto ourselves. And while it’s all right to make ourselves a priority, it’s not right to make ourselves the focal point from which all things are measured.
- Waiting can lure me into wanting to demand my rights. After all, aren’t I entitled to my freedom? Actually, I’m entitled to nothing except to love mercy, to seek justice (which isn’t the same as demanding my rights), to walk humbly with God and people.
- Waiting can narrow my vision. The longer I wait, the more I am tempted to see only my narrow slice of life and magnify my seeming needs. Waiting can take my eyes off God and others as I grow increasingly self-focused.
- Waiting can pull me into isolation.Exhausted by circumstances, I may choose to withdraw or simply slip into isolation unaware.
- Waiting can stir me to anger. The longer I look at circumstances and other people, the more easily I become convinced that I’m getting the short end of the stick. I convince myself that God doesn’t care enough to help me, and my anger feeds my attitude, which feeds my anger, in a vicious cycle.
Over the past eight months, I’ve also learned to appreciate a lot of things about waiting.
- Waiting can broaden my vision for the injustices of the world.If we allow it to, our pain can shift our attention to those suffering in similar situations–or in worse situations. I’ve found that ministering to others over these past months has been one of the most restorative things I’ve done for myself.
- Waiting offers me opportunities to advocate for others, based upon what I’ve learned.Fifty percent of the U.S. population suffers with chronic illness. We often don’t take the time to understand what it takes for these people and their caregivers to manage life. I recently went to the zoo with my family for an outing. The heat and physical exertion overwhelmed me, and I pulled my scooter under a tree to rest while my husband went to get me something to drink. Hundreds of people passed me without saying a word. Except for one young father and son who stopped to see if I was all right. Why? Because they were looking past themselves and the crowd for people in need.
- I’ve learned that waiting can enlarge my vision for God and others. Waiting can draw me toward God and others if I focus on his character and his goodness and his faithfulness. As I focus on him, other elements of my life and purpose come into focus, including the way I see others and my heart to know and serve them.Waiting can fill me with grace. The more I focus on the goodness of God, the more I see how blessed I am, how loved I am, and how secure I am. I become increasingly convinced that I am never out of God’s care, and my gratitude explodes into a grace-filled, purpose-driven life.
- Waiting can fill me with grace. The more I focus on the goodness of God, the more I see how blessed I am, how loved I am, and how secure I am. I become increasingly convinced that I am never out of God’s care, and my gratitude explodes into a grace-filled, purpose-driven life.
Yes, I’ve been waiting for eight months for a diagnosis, but I get to choose where I place my eyes, my heart, and my faith.
But God’s goodness, mercy, and grace in my life haven’t dimished for a moment.