You know those little things that pop up in social media that herald what you were doing a year ago? I love those things. I love reflecting on where I was or who I was with exactly one year ago today. I love seeing how far I’ve come, celebrating where I’ve been.
But then, this popped up last week in my feed:
And I found myself feeling more sad than nostalgic. Asking myself, does that girl even exist anymore?
I was mad at her, that girl running a 5k. Because I remember the thought that ran through my mind as I crossed that finish line.
Does my tank top make me look fat?
I wasn’t celebrating finishing the race. Or meeting my goal. Or even the fact that my boyfriend was there waiting to take me out for coffee and breakfast.
I was thinking about a little extra skin around my middle.
And that pains me because almost exactly a year later, this picture was taken.
That girl would have given anything to run a race and not be laying in a hospital bed, recovering from gallbladder surgery.
She would have been thrilled to exchange the incisions in her abdomen for a slightly unflattering tank top.
To trade sick for healthy.
I thought about those two versions of myself this morning. The girl who could run versus the one who is fighting so hard for normal and healthy again.
The sermon this morning was about living our lives as doxology — an expression of praise to God. My life should be a living, breathing testament of thanksgiving.
How is it that this broken body of mine is more of a doxology than that healthy one knew to be?
I don’t blame her. But I want her to learn.
I want her to learn what it means to be a doxology. To speak God’s glory in the limping as much as in the running.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
A week after I had my surgery, I was on a plane bound for Ghana, a small country nestled on the coast of West Africa. As we bounced along deeply rutted red dirt roads, I felt my incision throb. But then I wondered, what if I had needed surgery today? Far away from the modern conveniences I was blessed with in the hospital in Colorado, would I have survived?
It took seven days and thousands of miles for me to realize how much worse it could have been. To thank God for the pain He used to tell me something was wrong.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
I am a broken creature living here in a broken world. But still, I am called to praise Him. In the midst of it all. In the emergency room I thanked him for the kind nurse who gave me an extra blanket as I writhed in pain. In the hospital, for the man who cleaned my room, saw my fear, and made jokes with me, promising to see me when I got back. For the anesthesiologist who squeezed my shoulder before placing the mask over my face. Each moment of praise came from a deep place of fear. I was a little girl again, afraid of the dark, of the things that hid in the shadows, yet finding thanksgiving in the comforting hands of my mother, in the nightlight she plugged in.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
I prayed a lot in those hours and days following my surgery. For God to take away the pain, yes. But also for Him to be my healer. To guide the doctors and nurses. To knit my body back together. With every step forward, and with every step backward, I craved his presence. His comfort.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
My doxology was sung to the Father. To the creator who knew His creation. To the Father who cared about my gallbladder as much as my heart.
It was sung to the Son. Because he knew physical pain. He knew the pain of a stomachache. A heartache. A body broken by this world. And that knowledge made me sing a doxology of gratitude. He understood.
And to the Holy Ghost. Who gave me the supernatural gift of rest when fear tried to rob me of sleep. Who led loved ones to me when I didn’t know how to communicate my needs. Who filled me with a deep peace when peace didn’t make sense.
The strong, healthy girl from a year ago lived her own moments of doxology. But I’m discovering that those deepest places of gratitude are often borne of those deepest places of pain. Of brokenness.
My prayer is that when I’m healthy again, when I’m crossing finish lines, I won’t take for granted the strength it takes to get there. I will listen for those echoes of today. Echoes of pain and healing and deep, deep gratitude.