“I’m sorry, it’s incurable”
Once I heard those words leave the lips of my doctor I felt as if I was in a movie. She kept talking, but I couldn’t hear any of it. It was like her voice was drowned out by the impending thought that I’m dying from this. I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t even feel enough to really cry. I just sat there with my mind going at 100 mph.
“Wait, what did you say I had again, herpes? Am I…Am I going to die? Can I still have babies?” I shocked myself by asking the second question. I was fearful of being a wife, let alone a mother. “Where did that question even come from?” I thought.
“No! You can live a completely normal life”, she assured me gently. ” But… you do have herpes simplex 1 & 2, simplex 2 being an STD for which there is no cure.”
I didn’t know much of anything about herpes and at that point I was still trying to figure out how exactly this would change my life.
“But, I just want to get rid of it”, I thought and not just this diagnosis, the feeling of shame and guilt that accompanied it. I had felt the same way 4 years ago from fornicating. I had repented. I was celibate, but now all of those tormenting feelings were back. I pulled myself together enough to leave the office and get in my car.
My mind was racing on the drive back home. I walked through the door and almost immediately I started crying to my roommate, Jazmine. “What happened?” she asked, she said I had herpes 1 & 2. I said as I was crying”.
She didn’t sound shocked. She just consoled me.
That day was hard for me. I put on a brave face, went to my closet and asked God to get me through today – I had a few hours before I was teaching bible study at my church.
I forced myself to think about everything but what the doctor had said. I tried to avoid it, but I couldn’t.
I didn’t want anyone to hug me during the greeting portion of that service. I didn’t want anyone to touch me at all.
I felt so dirty.
I wish I can tell you that I remember what I preached on that night but I can’t. It was all, and still is a blur.
I ended the message and put my mic down; I was shaking.
People thought I was nervous, but inside I was telling myself to hold it together until I got home.
“I went to the doctor today.” I told my Pastor that night. “She said…she said I have herpes”, I said trying to hold onto the diagnosis as long as I could. I knew once I spoke those words I couldn’t get them back and I was scared. I was scared that he would think of me, exactly what I felt; that I was dirty.
“Do you think…do you think I’m dirty? I feel dirty…”
“No!” He said, so assuredly. I felt relief. It was as if God was telling me the same thing in that moment, “you’re not dirty”. Even today, I am so grateful for his sincerity of that single word.
But that night and the next week I had trouble sleeping.
Again and again I traced what my gynecologist had told me. I had only had one sexual partner so I knew whom I had contracted it from. My memory jolted back to a year ago when he called me randomly to apologize for all the cheating, “you should have apologized for this – this is what matters!”
I Facebook stalked him.
He was engaged. And that, made me even more insecure. He had found what I was scared I couldn’t at this point-a spouse.
I didn’t want to have that conversation with my future husband that I may give you an STD if you sleep with me. That, if we have a baby there is still a chance that I may pass it along to them.
In the first few days after my diagnosis I had already planned several scenarios as to how the conversation would go; none of them satisfied me. Either my future husband would decide it was too hard to love me (a fear I had long before this doctor’s visit) or he would stick around and resent me.
To me, there was no other option and I couldn’t bear it.
A couple of weeks passed and I told my roommate Jazmine, “Don’t let me cry about this anymore”. “You can have one more week,” she said.
“No, I’m done crying.”
I knew I had to make a decision to trust that this God I had been reading about was the same God I prayed to daily.
It felt like I was starting over in a lot of ways.
I had to come to terms with some things:
- I wanted to be healed physically and emotionally
- God could heal me
- God wanted to heal me (which is so different than the second)
- This is an opportunity to trust God
- I wanted to be married and be a mom
So, I set out to believe those things; for God to convict me and remind me of those things even when I felt like they were untrue.
I struggled here, immensely. I had really good days and I had days where I cried silently looking at my computer screen at work.
I confessed. A lot.
In my closet I confessed my feelings. I told God to make me brave like He was; to help me. I needed Him to help me make His words my meditation. I needed Him to take me in so I could receive Him as my safe place.
I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Psalm 16:7-10 NASB
I had to learn how to think good when I felt bad. I had to learn not to be shaken when I felt like crumbling.
I kept going back into my closet even when I felt like His love had ran out.
I kept going back when I didn’t feel His presence.
Confess. Repent. Believe. Trust. Repeat.
Over and over again until it was solidified.
“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction” ( Mark 5:34).
I kept hearing those words.
He was encouraging me to believe what appeared impossible. And, I wanted to be up for the challenge.
And then, one night at church there was a call for those who needed healing.
Even in this I struggled, “What will people think?”.
But, I went anyway. Even in this I repeated, “Confess. Repent. Believe. Trust”. It wasn’t about what people thought – it was about what God could do.
And so, my First Lady prayed for me. She already knew the issue- I had confessed to her the same night I had confessed to my Pastor. And she prayed for me, like she was praying for herself.
And, I had to believe. I had to believe God in that moment. But I still struggled. “Heal my unbelief God… I’m trying.” (Mark 9:24)
“Go back to the doctor 90 days from now”, God told me.
February 19, 2016, that was the day. I marked it in my phone.
The days in between that night and this past February demanded a lot of confessing, repenting, believing and trusting. But more than that, repeating each of these things.
I still struggled. I wish that I could write that I 100% believed all the time that God would heal me, but I can’t. I can say that I trusted Him more and that I believed Him more. But, I was shaky some days.
I had to press, I thought. I felt like the woman in Mark 5, the woman with the issue of blood. There was a issue with my blood-but I wasn’t close enough. I wasn’t pressing enough into Jesus like that woman was. I was still letting fear restrain me-I had to press more.
“For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.
“And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.'”
Mark 5: 28; 31-34 NASB
That day, February 19, 2016 I went to a different gynecologist as the Lord had told me to do. I let them draw my blood and now it was time to wait the 1-2 weeks it takes to get your results back.
I got an email from them saying my results were clear from my pap smear. But what I needed to know was about the blood work. I called the office, “Yes, everything, including your blood work came back clear. You didn’t test positive for anything”.
I could not believe her words.
A part of me wanted to speak with someone else to confirm. But, I quickly silenced myself, “Is this not what you’ve prayed for?”
Too shocked to cry, I uttered. “Thank you. Thank you isn’t enough God, but thank you God…”
I remembered 4-5 months prior to that day when God gave me the title for this blog post. Before the doctor confirmed what was already done. “You’ve been faithful Lord, exceedingly faithful”, I thought.
He healed me, but more than just my body.
And so, I leave you with this.
Our experiences, no matter what may happen today or next month can make us better, more like God if we let them. He is faithful to move us to a place where we believe that the God we pray to is the same Jehovah Rapha (the God that heals us) that we read about. God, wants to heal you, but I believe He is more concerned about healing your heart than your perishable body. It’s your mind and heart that will cause you to spend eternity with Him.
Sometimes, we pray and ask for God’s glory to be revealed but do we really mean it? Are you willing to share what He has done? Or, will you hide the very encouragement that someone needs. There is a revealing that happens in you so that people can see the God you post about on Facebook. We cannot contain the big things He does to make our little lives worth talking about. We talk about everything else. Surely, His goodness is worth a shout out too :)
Lastly, He hears us.
Our high priest hears and knows the magnitude of our temptation to live in fear and intercedes for us. He has healed my body, but now, more importantly I see that He has touched my heart and my mind to believe and trust Him for what I would have considered impossible before.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16 NASB
He is, in the business of making the impossible possible. No matter what your need is, no matter how bad you hurt. No matter what people or doctors say, He can make it possible. What is in your life that seems incurable know that He died for that too.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 NASB
As Jesus’ words “It is finished” left his lips, so is your healing – finished. Inwardly and outwardly He will heal you.
Keep confessing. Repenting. Believing. and Trusting. I promise it’s worth it.