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Michelle Warner

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Exhaling

Posted on March 5th, 2013

Olivia is asleep in the swing, the rain is falling softly, and I am sitting on the couch ready to reflect for a few moments on what God has been teaching me the past few days while waiting for the news of my CT scan.

First of all, I was so relieved and grateful to find out everything looks “perfect.” I haven’t had much of an opportunity to exhale yet because right after the doctor left the room, I needed to feed a hungry baby and then we packed up and headed home. I am so grateful for a few moments of quiet to thank God for a clean bill of health. I remember a woman I respect mentioning a few years ago how important it is to give as much effort in thanking God for how He’s answered our prayers as we do at presenting our requests to Him. I think of that every time I leave the doctor’s office with a good report. It’s so easy to move right along to the next request on my mind instead of reveling in the way God showed up. I am so incredibly humbled and grateful for a good report and I do not take it for granted. Not one minute.

I would be remiss to not mention how challenging the days leading up to this appointment have been. The anxiety crept in so stealthily that I didn’t realize I was worried about the appointment until I was cloaked in fear. I literally had a stomachache from the panic I was feeling internally.

I was frustrated with myself over how worried I was about this scan for a couple of reasons. First, I had just had a c-section three months prior where the oncologist was able to get a good look at my body and reported all looked “pristine.” So in my mind I knew there was not much to worry about but I was having a difficult time convincing my heart of that fact. Second, I have had so many of these scans and appointments over the last three and a half years that it’s not like a routine CT scan is new for me. So why was my stomach tied in knots over this one?

Maybe it was because I had gotten out of the practice of cancer check-ups since I took a break during my pregnancy and quickly forgot how fear-inducing those appointments were. Maybe it was because I had a little girl now and every decision and outcome felt twice as serious. Maybe it was because I was tired and still trying to find my rhythm as a new mom. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason, but all I knew was that I had some deep fears and triggers that were bubbling to the surface and needed to be addressed.

Once I realized that I had blown this scan way out of proportion in my mind, I knew I needed to invite God into my fears and thoughts. The first thing I did was find the song that I wrote about last week and begin playing it over and over. I have found that music speaks so intimately into my heart and helps me hold onto truth that I so desperately need. I specifically resonated with the words:

“God whatever comes my way, 
I will trust you.
All my fears all my dreams, held in your hands.”

That’s how I felt; My fears of returning cancer and my dreams of raising my children were in God’s hands and I needed that song to remind me over and over again that I could trust God with those personal thoughts. When my own words were difficult to find, singing those lyrics helped me articulate what I felt in my heart.

I knew that my next line of attack against my fear needed to be reading Scripture because that’s where the true power is. I’ll be honest, my Bible reading time has taken a major hit since having a baby. Yet I knew I needed to intentionally surround myself with truth to protect myself against the many lies and what if’s that were raging around me. While nursing on Saturday, I picked up my copy of Jesus Calling and asked God to speak to me. I admit that I am still reading in November instead of in March where I should be, but nevertheless, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I opened up my Bible app on my phone (so much easier while nursing!) and read the verse with my upcoming CT scan in mind:

“The Lord replied [to Moses], ‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest’” (Exodus 33:14).

You know when you read something at just the right time that you know was for you? That was how I felt when I read those words. I needed the reminder that God’s presence would be with me and give my heart rest. And not just for this appointment but in this transition of becoming a mom too.

The next morning I asked God to keep speaking to me. One of my most favorite verses and one that I have held onto during so many nerve-wracking appointments in the past jumped off the page:

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

I drank up those words and allowed them to soothe my shaking soul. I repeated them to myself over and over and reminded myself to keep a steadfast mind (a concept I have studied about in the past and wrote about here).

God also spoke to me through the sermon at our church later that morning. Though I wasn’t able to totally concentrate because Jared and I were bouncing Olivia to keep her content, what I took away from the message was the importance of prayer in our daily lives and in our spiritual battle. And again, I admit, another discipline that has seriously lacked since having a baby. I knew I needed to ask for prayer from those close to me. I knew I needed others battling for truth and peace for me. I knew that the prayers of those around me truly would make a difference.

It amazed me that when I woke up this morning, the day of my appointment, I hardly felt any trepidation. I knew that was a direct result of the truth I was meditating on and the answered prayers for peace and strength. Let’s be honest, I wasn’t skipping around the halls of my house with great anticipation for my appointment, but I had a deep peace that God had prepared me for this day and He would work on my behalf.

It wasn’t a pretty process to get to that point. There was much nail-biting and stomach-rumbling, as well as many honest prayers and a few tears. I’m still trying to process why this appointment unearthed so many fears and anxieties, but one thing I know: God once again proved Himself faithful and provided so many reassurances to remind me He was walking every step with me.

As I finish this post, it is now late and the rain has turned to snow. My baby is sleeping in the room down the hall and my husband is sleeping next to me. My heart feels so full of gratitude for those two cherished answered prayers as well as today’s answered prayer of a clean bill of health. I lay my head down tonight so humbled for how faithful and kind God has been yet again to me. I can finally exhale.

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