“Ellen, God wants you to be healed, He longs for you to be whole.” The glow of my phone in the dark living room provided enough light for me to find a Kleenex as tears fell onto the screen, my friend’s text message spanning hundreds of miles between us, touching my heart in the wound that needed healing the most…
Self sufficiency, false humility, pride. All of these are different words for the same phenomenon, the one that had created a wall between my heart and God’s. I loved Jesus but I had not fully grasped His unconditional love for me. For months I had convinced myself that I didn’t have time to make my health a priority, I had a busy life and perhaps would make time when my children were older. My friend’s inspired message cut through my pride, allowing a glimpse of myself from the Father’s point of view. I was beloved and worthy. Worthy of healing, worthy of giving Him time to heal my body and my heart.
The following day I made the phone call I had been putting off for months. I scheduled surgery with a specialist four hours away for PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. I was nervous to undergo the procedure but given the lengthy waiting list for such a skilled surgeon, I had time to forget about it. However, as the months progressed, so did my symptoms. Another cyst rupture left me reeling in pain followed by a day in bed to recuperate. Instead of growing in fear of the surgery, I grew in gratitude that I had a deadline, a date on the calendar for when I could finally be rid of these symptoms.
Many years before all of this, when I first became a mother, I had committed myself to serving whoever Jesus put in my path through making meals. It was a tangible way to teach my small children about loving our neighbors and it was much easier than volunteering at Church with toddlers in tow. I delighted in helping others, and yet I hadn’t accepted the reality that I needed help, too. I had forgotten that in order to give love, I had to receive it from the source of Love, Jesus.
In the months leading up to my surgery, we were thankful that we had built a community around us and were blessed by the love of close family & friends. Our two years in that town were the longest we had lived in one place and we had no intentions to leave. I was confident that our friends and family would be right by our side to carry us through surgery and recovery. I had embraced the fact that I would need their help to manage through and my heart was at ease. That is, until one day, six weeks before my surgery, God stirred our hearts and asked us to trust Him in a much bigger way. We gave Him our mustard seed of faith and took the leap, accepting my husband’s job promotion and moving our family three hours away from home.
The closing date on the purchase of our new home was scheduled three days before my surgery and I was certain I had somehow mixed up the plan. The timing of it all felt like a mistake. God wanted me to be healed but how was I going to undergo surgery without our vast network of support?
Ready or not, surgery day arrived, but to my surprise, I felt an overwhelming peace. Through Christ’s mercy, the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows, and the hands of a very skilled surgeon, my surgery was extremely successful. The surgeon performed a bilateral ovarian wedge resection, returning my elevated hormones to normal ranges, all while preserving my fertility!
I heard the doctor sharing the good news with my husband and I tried to open my eyes to see their faces. Despite my greatest efforts to complete such a small task, they wouldn’t open as nausea wracked me to my core. “Narcotic naïve,” the nurses paged to one another in the post operation room, as they checked my vitals once more. Pain seared through my body and I could barely speak or move. They were the most painful moments I had encountered in my life, and yet… there was that peace again … and there He was. The One who had longed for my healing. He hadn’t left my side. He asked me to offer my suffering for those in need of prayer as names scrolled past my closed eyes…friends, relatives, strangers, and neighbors alike. Through His grace I received the strength to focus on uniting my suffering to Christ’s sufferings, for them. And though the pain lingered, peace did too, in a greater way. It happened to be Lent, and Christ had invited me to Calvary with Him through my own personal cross.
Leaving our support and moving to a new town right before major surgery meant that I had only One who could fully care for my heart–Jesus. My support of nearby friends had been stripped away but He remained. My expected two week recovery turned into a six week recovery, and though my heart was weary and doubting at times, Jesus never left my side. He provided help at every moment during those long weeks through our family and friends, near and far, who came to our aid.
Weeks passed and I was soon physically able to care for myself, but I wasn’t prepared for how I would feel about my scars. I had my own battle wounds from birthing our four miracles, but the scars from this surgery were different. If I had held onto my pride and self-sufficiency, believing my physical body didn’t need healing, I could have avoided the pain and scars of surgery. But I would have been rejecting God’s invitation to healing. By His grace I was able to humble myself enough to accept His help, to accept healing through surgery, to love myself by letting God love and heal me. And I learned that loving myself means loving all of me, including my scars. Though they’re hidden from the outside, my scars give me daily perspective and newfound empathy for the many crosses carried by each person we encounter. Yes, it really is true – we love because He first loved us. Real humility allows us to let down our guards of self sufficiency, allowing the Father to love us. When we’ve received His love, we can finally, fully love ourselves, wounds and all. That kind of love spills over, like an ocean from our hearts, into each heart we encounter along the journey to our true Home.
Ellen Virginia is a devoted wife and homeschooling mother who loves to share her gift of hospitality with everyone she meets. A natural cheerleader of the heart and a passionate advocate for time spent with Jesus, Ellen delights in encouraging women to choose joy each day. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram: @yokedtothehealer.