Why Hope Is Everything

I have become totally utterly obsessed with the word ‘let’ recently. As a Type A control freak, it’s a word that rarely enters my vocabulary. So rare, that I decided to get it tattooed on my wrist last summer so I would permanently remember to “Let Go, Let God.” I can’t say the tattoo has helped enforce the meaning of that word as much as I hoped it would. I still have pushed myself too far and tried to change circumstances that are beyond my control. While this is not always a bad characteristic, it can be when you are not keeping food down and not listening to your body– which happened to me just about six months ago.

I have spent six months keeping up a full-time job while getting multiple procedures, seven biopsies, experimenting with different meds, trying elimination diets, and more. Only to wind up finding out a mere two weeks ago that none, I repeat, none of it worked. The word “hysterectomy” was put out there, which was a giant slap in my face since I am still young and want children more than anything in this world. Talk about a major let down. I did what any adult would do >> buried myself in my luxurious plush bed and refused to allow the world in. I shut down social media and any contact with the outside world. I just thought and thought and prayed and prayed. Finally, in my meditation chair, I crossed my legs Indian style and folded my hands, laying my forehead on them. “Do whatever you need to, God. I am handing everything over to you. I am going to let you help.” 

The next week I got in with a renowned doctor who deals with endometriosis, a terrible disease that wrecks your life it gets your claws into you deep enough. His aide again brought up a hysterectomy as most likely the only course forward. I saw my dreams of being a mother float out of the tiny cave of an exam room into someone else’s room. Then the doctor came in and said he was willing to do chemotherapy to try to remove the endo from my colon, bladder, etc. While this seems like the worst news to some, it was good news for me because it meant there was hope for me to still have children someday, even though it meant being severely ill for the next six to 12 months.

So, here I am, on day #7 of my chemo treatment, and it is by far the worst day so far. I’m starving, but too sick to eat. I spend every half hour between my porch and the bathroom with dry heaves. I already have acne like I am in middle school. I’m (obviously) in a shitty mood due to the millions for hormones being pumped through me to try to mitigate the side effects of the chemo. But I still have something that I only lost for a mere second while I buried myself in my bed, and that is >> hope. I might not be the most presentable, high-energy, positive version of myself right now, but that’s okay. I have hope that I am going to survive this, and I am going to find a way to have children some day, even if it ends up being through adoption. And I am going to let that hope be enough. I am going to let me be enough right now, exactly as I am, bad mood, acne-covered, bloated, unwashed hair, glasses-wearing me. And you have no idea how much strength it just took to write, and believe, that sentence.

While my physical self took a bit of nosedive today, my spirit is a bit on a high and ready to fight due to a beautiful quote I read in Brant Hansen’s incredible book, “Blessed Are The Misfits.” This book deserves, and will get, a blog post of its own. It focuses on Jesus’ ministry being about the misfits, rather than the perfect people who attended church every Sunday, but then were awful people in their private lives. Hansen pulled the quote that grabbed me from a passage of the NLT Bible (John 9:1-3) where people are asking if a blind man was made blind because of his own sins, or because of his parents. This taps into the human need to assign blame to everything we go through, especially sickness. Jesus answers:

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” 

Woah. I don’t know about you, but when I read this after an onset of dry heaves yesterday afternoon, I felt immediate peace. Being a Type A perfectionist makes me want to search out why I am sick, and makes me fall into the trap of thinking that if I was just a little ‘stronger’ or more rigid in my diet or took a medicine that I researched just a little more >> I shouldn’t be sick. It’s my fault. 

This passage removes all blame, essentially forcing the reading to ‘let’ things be as God attended. For me to ‘let’ myself be sick. To understand that allowing myself to rest and taking blame off of myself is not giving up the fight, it’s letting someone even stronger than myself be on my side and help through it >> God. 

I had one smart ass reply to one of my blog posts about trusting God through illness that asked me how I could possibly believe in a God that would let me suffer so. It has taken me four years to think about how I would like to respond to him, and while I felt my response within me this whole time, it was the quote that Brant Hansen used that really helped put words behind it >> I would take on any illness, any side effect, any loss, if it meant God could use me to show His power of healing. I have that much faith in Him and myself. If my suffering gives just one person the strength to carry on and pull themselves out of their own suffering, then go for it. 

I don’t believe God made me sick. I think there are many forces on this earth that contribute to who we are and what we have to face in this lifetime. I do believe He is using this to his advantage, though, in whatever way he can, even though I might not be able to see how right now. And that is enough for me. Because that alone keeps my hope alive, and that alone keeps me fighting and…alive.

Here’s to my future children, adopted or natural, who I know will read this someday because I will never give up this fight. 

– Marji J. Sherman