I don’t have a witty hook for this one. And I’m going to spoil the end:
Jesus shows up.
This is draft two because draft one wasn’t honest. Draft one was titled “Wonder Hunting” and it literally involved sunsets and indie pop and some completely irrelevant reference to my love for junky, old Volvos. It sounded nice and it wasn’t fiction by any stretch, but it wasn’t ugly enough.
And the truth is these last two weeks have been ugly.
Since my endo showed up for a third time this last round, I decided to resume some supplements that used to help calm some of my symptoms. I took them for 6 days at the beginning of the month before they started taking effect. But this time my body’s reaction to them was less than ideal.
My mood tanked. It went subterranean.
I suddenly wasn’t myself. I was really melancholy. And if not melancholy, then all angsty. If not angsty, then asleep, but not sleeping well. I would flip between apathy and oversensitivity like it was my job. One minute air-drumming to The Story So Far, and the next ugly-crying to sunset love songs.
That’s not me. And that drove me crazy.
I started doing anything I could think of to get normal me back. I ran through the usual list of suspects–things that would make normal Hannah dance little jigs. But nothing worked. I knew it was my body reacting to the supplements and I knew there was nothing I could do to speed up the process. It would work itself out of me in time and eventually all would be well in the world again. (Eventually: the arch nemesis of my impatience.)
On top of that, my pain has not improved much since my last surgery. I’m officially 6 weeks past my procedure, which generally speaking would mean I’m in the clear. But in the last two weeks I experienced the worst pain spike I’ve ever had. And every day sharp pains come in waves where my endo last camped.
Normal, rational me would be able to talk myself down from the panic the pain brings. It’s only been 6 weeks. You could still be healing. Give it time. But melancholy me? No, sir. She’s not so level-headed. It’s back. It’s back. And this time it’s going to take an ovary with it.
I got pretty wound up thinking about it.
“If You’re going to take it, take it already!”
I felt like a three year old throwing punches at a brick wall, balling my anxiety into weak little fists and shaking them at God like, “You did this.” (In case you thought I had this whole joy-and-disease thing locked down, this is me happily ratting myself out.)
He didn’t send down lightning He just listened. And I continued to pout for the next few days, talking to Him in bits. Mostly just saying, “this sucks right now,” but not really talking to Him about it. I was up to my knees in stubbornness and preferred to stay angry.
Then came today.
Today felt a little different. This morning I got coffee and even shared a good laugh with the baristas. I was convinced the happy was back and that today normal Hannah would come back too. But then work was a bear and I let that get me all peeved again. So I stewed like a champ and listened to punk rock all the way home. By the time I got in the door, I wanted to lay on the floor and yell or cry. I wasn’t sure which.
The last thing I wanted to do was go to my community group.
But I had bailed twice already (I’m terrible) and told myself bailing again would be actually shameful. When the time came, I dragged my feet all the way to my car and listened to more punk.
One of the specific reasons I didn’t want to go was the time for prayer at the end. Last week I stayed quiet during prayer requests. I told myself I was fine and it wasn’t important. This week I planned to do the same. But Jesus threw that nonsense out the window.
“Prayer requests, anyone?” Tamera, co-leader of the group, clicked her pen and waited as the room stayed quiet. I kept my mouth shut and stuck to my plan. Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s irrational stubbornness–I don’t like asking for help even when I need it. Tamera’s husband, Gary, was the first to break the quiet. And he looked right at me.
“Well, I have a prayer request. I’d like to pray for Hannah. For her health.”
I had smiled and lied and said I was “good” when he had greeted me at the door earlier that night. Okay. (I couldn’t help but let out a little laugh at this point because hello, Jesus.)
“How’s it going?” He knew the answer.
And that was it. Nobody asked what was going on; Tamera just wrote me down along with the next few requests and, in the end, assigned a couple people to pray for each one. Tamera asked the girl next to me to pray for mine. She served at my church too, always bright and smiling, but I didn’t know much about her and she didn’t know much about me. Especially my story or the nature of my disease or the current state I was in. She put her hand on my shoulder and prayed.
She prayed that God would take the pain away.
She prayed that I would be enraptured and encompassed by His love.
She prayed that I would be at peace in my mind.
And like that, Jesus showed up louder than a Vegas sign. Through the prayer of a stranger I was reminded again–so tangibly–how radical and particular His love is for us. He is so aware and so present and so jealous for us.
Despite my tendency to turn inward, He chases after me. Time and time again.
This is not me. None of this is me. On my own I’m a self-reliant train wreck, swinging at the air. This is just God and His creative hand reaching out in love and absolutely dismantling my heart. Day after day showing up. He knows my pain, He knows my needs, He knows just how to speak to me.
And I can’t even begin to comprehend that.
Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. -Matthew 11:28-29
Even if the mountains heave up from their anchors, and the hills quiver and shake, I will not desert you. You can rely on My enduring love; My covenant of peace will stand forever. So says the Eternal One, whose love won’t give up on you. -Isaiah 54:10