What’s happening now
I’m here in the hospital after a night of discovering another complication: a blood clot in my leg, right where the temporary dialysis line was placed about three weeks ago. None of the doctors seem too worried about it at this point, but last night, it was very distressing as we went from ultrasound to X-ray to Heparin drip. I’ll be on the Heparin drip for 4 days, in the hospital, while the home option for blood thinning gets into my system and the current femoral line I have in my leg for dialysis is closely watched.
Another complication?! Weren’t there enough things wrong already? I thought things might be getting easier. Despite crying and wondering what in the world is going to happen, and not wanting my body to be crumbling, I woke up this morning renewed and having slept well, though not very much. Should I be hopeful to get better? Should I keep expecting one thing after another to go wrong? What else will today bring? The ground is shifting under my feet. I look down, I just get dizzy. I have to look up. When I do, I get a different picture. And what do I see? This requires looking back at my story.
… back to an 18-year-old, healthy Heidi who had just discovered the Bible. I was in college, in a lounge at 6:30am, with coffee and an Otis Spunkmeier cookie, and an hour and a half before my first class of the day. I was reading reading in the book of Isaiah, and not able to put it down. I’d come across a passage that gripped my heart, and I read it over and over, not knowing why I loved it, but knowing it was for me (Isaiah 54, for any of you interested in seeing it). It’s an odd passage in that it’s poetic and not written for me in an obvious way. But ever since then, it’s been mine. Over the years, it’s spoken to me in different ways, but I’ve always been curious as to why I love it so much and why it makes me tear up every time I read it.
Fast forward thirteen years, four kids and one cancer diagnosis later. Two days after my diagnosis last December, one of my dear friends and spiritual sister, Amanda, sends me a message saying that as she’s praying for me, several things came to mind. One was the hymn “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less,” which just so happens to be my favorite hymn, unbeknownst to her. She also sends two passages: Psalm 61:3 (about taking refuge in God), and Isaiah 54. She added the disclaimer “not sure why” for the Isaiah passage, because like I said, it’s an odd one. I quickly messaged back to let her know that Isaiah 54 had been deeply ingrained in my heart since college, and I still didn’t know why, but that God would always bring it up at the most unexpected times.
Dear, zealous Amanda couldn’t leave it there. A week later, I got a call from her saying that she just had to figure out why Isaiah 54, and that she had prayed and prayed and re-read Isaiah 54, asking God, “what is it about this passage Heidi needs to know?” She came up with three promises that I’ve been clinging to ever since. (She was very cautious- wanting to confirm as best she could before she told me anything, and if she should tell me…) The basics of what she said was:
- Even though this is a time of barrenness, it will actually be a time of fruitfulness.
- My children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.
- It’s going to be like the times of Noah, and God will bring me through it to healing, and I will have no lasting effects from this.
I want these things to be true with all my heart, and I also find them hard to believe, but I cannot deny the supernatural coincidence of this passage being a rock in my life and also a gift from God through Amanda at just the right time. I feel like I’m putting myself on the line by writing this. What does it mean if it doesn’t come true? Does it mean God didn’t speak? Does it mean God’s not there at all? Am I just reading into things as I please? And yet. That is not all…
God gave another sign that I would be healed through my oldest sister, Jenna. Jenna’s middle son Ben, at 7 months old, was diagnosed with a rare and potentially life-threatening neurological disease called Infantile Spasms. In the hospital with Ben the first day, Jenna cried out to God asking for a sign that he would heal Ben, and she opened to Psalm 41, part of which says, “The Lord protects them and keeps them alive … the Lord sustains them on their sickbed … in their illness you heal all their infirmities.” God went on to heal Ben completely. Right after hearing my cancer diagnosis, Jenna was crying, Bible in hand, and said, “God, I need you to heal Heidi and give me a sign. If you’re going to heal her, make me open to the same passage that you gave me about Ben.” She opened the Bible at random, and there it was. Psalm 41. (For the full story, read her blog post here ) And it doesn’t stop there.
My other sister, Erica, has a good friend who dreamt of Erica and I standing together, and God’s voice said, “I will make a way.” Since then, Erica has been confirmed as my bone marrow donor. Then, another friend of my parents had a dream where I was completely healed. And … there’s more.
When I was in the hospital last time, Erica was writing an encouraging verse from Isaiah 20 on a picture frame, but had to pause for a nurse briefing. When she started back up copying the verse out of her Bible, somehow the pages had turned under her hand. Even though she thought she kept her finger in place, when she looked down she saw a new verse: “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.“” The passage was Isaiah 58.
What use is all this in the moments when I can’t breathe? And when I feel panicked and when one thing after another is going wrong? Did God really say these things? Are we making them up for our own comfort? Is the universe rearranging itself because we want it to so badly?
I believe God has spoken to me, not just to give me empty hope, but to say that I will be healed despite the odds. But … it actually doesn’t feel that comforting when I’m in pain. I still feel alone and scared, and like I might die. But in reality, dying is less scary to me than God being proved a liar. So I’m going out on a limb and telling you all what I think he’s told me: that I’m going to be healed. Let’s see if it comes true. Let’s see if God actually said so.