All-Time Low #1
During one of the darkest moments of my eye disease- whilst in Africa- I had to be rushed to the hospital with unbearable pain. When we arrived at the hospital, we were directed to the waiting area. The large corridor also seemed to serve as an improvised ward with a few patients laying on mattresses, some with IV drops. I sat- ok, collapsed, really- in a chair in front of the nurses’ station. Right across the room I saw a young man lying to his side being propped up by an elderly woman- was it his mother or grandmother?-random thoughts for someone in pain.
As I waited for a nurse or doctor to come, I closed my eyes and experienced possibly the worst pain I’ve ever felt. It was as if throbbing pain and stabbing pain had a baby – and it was right there in my left eye! (I´ve come to the conclusion that the corneal melt doctors talk about was likely happening right then and there!).
Anyways,that’s when I heard it. As I focused on the pain, I heard possibly the scariest sound ever. I could hear someone in the distance being very very sick. The sound of violent retching, of vomiting your guts out, without getting too graphic- you can imagine. This sound scared me to my bones, I could imagine the person being very very sick, possibly near death.
I´d love to tell you that this noise made me think for a second that it wasn’t all about me. That I instinctively shared my healing prayers- at that time only for my own healing- with some stranger, who in some distant ward in some distant corridor, was suffering just like me. But no, I didn´t do any of this. Instead, the sounds coming out of this person made me think about the possibility that I might not make it, that I was also very very sick. How serious is this? Am I going to die? Can they treat it?
All-Time Low #2
This happened again weeks later when I was getting a corneal biopsy (google meaning if needed), in a hospital thousands of miles from the one I described before. This time, I was lying on one of those hospital reclining chairs (just like the ones dentist have). We were all ready to go, my face covered by some sterilized blanket-like thing, the sick eye propped open with some machine, lots of equipment in place, two doctors and the nurse ready to go. Yes, I was panicking, about the pain (ok, it’s more uncomfortable than painful due to lots and lots of numbing drops), about not being able to breathe because of the blanket, holding the urge to stand up and run away, and then I heard it again.
The main doctor speaking to the assistant doctor:
– “You have to go deeper, get a bigger piece” (of the eye!, my eye!, -in order to get more tissue for the biopsy)
-“I can´t” -replied the doctor, “her eye is like jelly”.
And this is where I lost it. Seriously, my eye is (was?) like jelly? And also, why cut a bigger piece? Negative thoughts started to flow in. How did I end up a bystander to my own butchery? Why this, why now? I was now crying, more scared than before, spiraling into an all-time personal low again.
Put your headphones on: Shutting out the Noise.
Now, why do I share these all-time lows? (Not my proudest moments!)
Throughout this personal struggle I quite often come across “overwhelming noise”, the kind that is able to knock over your spirit and your faith, leading us to worrying and losing hope. (Only if we allow it though!)
As a result, now I am now developing my very own ´overwhelming-noise-radar´ to pick out negative sounds and comments. It also comes with a choice of headphones or ear plugs to shut out unwanted outside noise (patent still pending).
So now when someone approaches me with an eye story about someone else they know (some distant great grand cousin of a cousin who went through either corneal transplants or other complex eye surgery) I quickly interrupt and ask if the story has a happy ending- otherwise please abstain (or I put headphones on)! This might come across a little rude/radical you might think, but I have come to realize that I´m only protecting my own heart and spirit. And if I don’t who will? (Plus there is no good in knowing some tragic medical outcome of someone I don’t even know, please don’t share this with anyone!)
Bottom line is: We are destined for great things, and with God´s loving grace and strength we are equipped to withstand this and all battles ahead, and fear no evil through them.
For “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13 and “even though [we] walk through the darkest valley, [we] shall fear no evil” Psalm 24:7.
So know this: Words are powerful and can serve to both construct and destruct. As we go through our own battles and struggles today, let’s not only speak words of faith but actively shut out any words, noises and voices that want to rob us of our own peace and spiritual growth.
Whether the noise comes from others- as scary stories of defeat, or are our own magnified voices of fear inside our heads, we can always choose to shut them out and shut them off.
Please feel free to build your own “overwhelming noise radar” and add some headphones in, to detect and actively tune out whatever doesn’t help you continue to grow, believe and see and walk by faith!