A year ago today, I was having surgery on my face to remove a Stage I malignant melanoma. I was anxious and depressed. I was worried about having a huge scar right under my eye. I was lost in my own little world of what if’s and should have’s.
Basically, I was in the spin cycle that comes when I step away from God and try to do it all out of my own strength. I was angry that I even had this spot on my face—in my mind, a direct consequence of stepping out and serving, living in developing countries on the equator, not using sunscreen because it would just melt off anyway. It felt like a confusing punishment, an unrighteous consequence of a youth well spent. (Please note, this was all through the lens of a fairly severe depressive state).
In those moments, I did not really see his providence: one of the best dermatologists in the country accepting my wonky travel insurance so 80% of the care costs were covered. This same dermatologist being a leading expert in his field and deciding MOHS surgery would be just fine in treating me (rather than the standard procedure, which would have involved cutting up half my face, and skin transplants, and all sorts of other messy things). His assistant being one of the best plastic surgeon-esque P.A.s, leaving me with (in the words of multiple dermatologists) “a beautiful scar.”
(Stitches. Yay) (My beautiful scar)
A year later, though, I can see His hand in everything. I can see how he gave my best friend in Hong Kong the boldness to question this icky spot on my face (you gotta love those friends who know all the nooks and crannies). I can see how my intense homesickness got me on the plane to California so I could be diagnosed and treated while it was still a stage 1 spot. I can see how doctors and insurance lined up for the best possible care. I can see how He gave me friends I didn’t even know I needed, who loved me through the fear, anxiety and depression, who met me where I was and wandered through the wilderness with me.
I can rejoice at being cancer-free. I can rejoice in health and wholeness, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I can rejoice in this season I find myself in, of entering into the promised land, of breakthroughs and hard work, of the provision in the wilderness and the partnership in the promise.
I am really, truly grateful. For all the things. The hard things and the wonderful things. A friend of mine told me last year right after the surgery that the scar that was left was a tangible reminder of a life laid down, and a testimony to Jesus and who I am in Him-an overcomer, a fighter, someone who lives in victory and surrender. I cried a bit and didn’t really believe it, and now my scar is barely noticeable, but I still think it’s true. He was with me in the stillness and with me in the storm, in the wilderness and in the promise. I was never alone. I am never alone. And I am grateful for this journey, this process, these difficulties that led to deeper trust and a willing spirit to say, “Yes. What’s next, Papa?”