Mowing the lawn on a 90 degree day in July isn’t the best idea, but lately the to do list before surgery is getting longer and the surgery date keeps getting closer… and I thought, hey, if I have to choose between a work out and getting some yard work done, let’s kill two birds…
Mowing the lawn is better than therapy.
I’ve made some pretty profound discoveries out there in the open yard, vulnerable to neighbors judging my pink spandex and bright red lipstick. There’s just something about the repetitiveness of back and forth, lining up the wheels just right that cuts down the stress and worry. We have a pretty open front yard, a few bushes that are unkempt (I’m no green thumb), some tiger lilies, but pretty much the only trees around are across the street and lining our back yard.
The planner that I am… while walking up and down the grassy rows, I was thinking about all the things I can do to prepare for the kidney transplant… right down to the undies I should bring (TMI?)…thinking about what life will be like in the weeks and months after the surgery… how my body might change…how much energy Cheryl is going to have. I was taking one of the last passes to finish up the yard and came upon a single bright red maple leaf. I stopped in my tracks… It was so out of place. Lawn mower still humming, I looked around to see where in the world this leaf could have blown from… flipping the calendar in my mind to do the math on how far away fall was. I turned off the mower, picked up the leaf and examined it. I felt the holy spirit telling me to take a breath, slow my thoughts and recognize this changing season in my life. It was peaceful, profound and comforting.
Changing seasons in the middle of July.
I live with anxiety disorder. I’ve had it since I was a child. I can’t shut my mind off at night. Don’t sleep. I worry what people think and I have daily fear of bad things happening. I’m a planner because my brain fills unpredictability with dangerous thoughts (THAT, I discovered with a real therapist). Those thoughts become constant worry, and worry becomes a security blanket. If I’m enjoying something, then I need to have a little worry because this joyful moment will eventually come to an end. If I’m happy, I feel guilty like someone else deserves it more. I usually think of all the tragic possibilities ahead of time… then I trick myself into thinking I’m prepared… and yes, I already know that when I do that I’m missing out on the joys of life right in front of me… and that is depressing, right? It’s called foreboding joy. It sounds so irrational even when I’m writing it… but it’s an irrational reality for me, and I’m a work in progress. My faith is what brings me out of anxiety. God speaks to my heart through signs. I find comfort in the signs. You may already be thinking through all the scientific reasons why a single leaf could have turned blazing red, fallen off a tree and blown into my bare yard in the middle of July. And if that brings you comfort, go with it. For me, signs like these provide meaning, peace and settles my worrying mind. This little red leaf is a sign that this season in my life is extra special because I am sharing it with another person. Cheryl will have new life soon and I am able to be a living testimony to God’s faithfulness.
I got a call from Cheryl’s surgeon yesterday in the middle of a chapel service at work.
It’s human nature to have doubts. Until yesterday, I thought I was doing very well suppressing doubts, given my anxiety. For me, anxiety isn’t one big thing. My anxiety attacks me when lots of little things bubble up. That call from the surgeon was another little thing. It’s three days before the surgery and the doctor told me that they found something in the blood that they should have found a while ago. The final crossmatch blood test showed that Cheryl’s antibodies were working against my blood. The doctor told me there was an additional “slight” risk that Cheryl’s body would reject my kidney and that there could be long term complications. I lost it. I completely lost it. Not because the percentage of rejection went up, or because I didn’t want to donate anymore, but because I felt the burden of this process with Cheryl. I want her to have a long healthy life. She has plans to travel Route 66 with Terry (Neil’s dad). All I could think about was how she might not be able to keep those plans because of the chance for “long-term complications.” My faith was tested, and in those moments I was letting a doctor — and his percentages — limit the power of God to see this surgery through. He brought us this far, we’re going all the way.
Doubts limit God.
I have seen doctors give people only months to live and they are still living after 5 years, 20 years, 30 years. I have witnessed so many miracles, but in that moment, I let my humanity get the best of me. Faith takes practice and it takes refinement. The rest of the day was filled with prayer thanks to my supportive friends and co-workers at MTM. And I have come to the conclusion that I’m glad I got the call from the surgeon and there is now a slight increase in chance of kidney rejection, because it makes this testimony stronger and when the doctors are weak, when our bodies are weak, when our minds are weak, our Father is needed and that’s when His power works best.