The doctor looks up from her file and asks me how long it’s been since I’ve had blood work done. I don’t remember. I know it’s been more than six years since I went to the doctor regularly, and I tell her this as my shoulders slump.
In the weeks leading up to finding a new doctor, I told my husband I couldn’t put a finger on why I avoided doing this tiny thing to care for myself for so long these past few years. On one hand, as a mom of three, there’s always something to do to care for others and this was often my mental excuse. Making an appointment repeatedly fell to the end of my to-do list. Hypocritically, while pushing it to the end of the list until it eventually fell off, I encouraged those I love to take care of themselves and to listen to their bodies.
I cross my legs then uncross them as my new doctor types in notes on her computer. She is soft-spoken and petite; her gentle eyes speak for the rest of her face as we talk to each other through our masks. She asks if I’ve had a mammogram since I’m over forty and I think back to that milestone birthday, the summer before COVID, and how I had intended to make an appointment for one way back then.
Our bodies being carried through the passage of time, experiences, and relationships is a dance of welcome, resistance, and surrender. Sometimes the dance feels beautiful, but most of the time, at least for me, it’s awkward, uncomfortable, and clumsy. The minute I feel comfortable in my own skin, it changes again.
Last month, I went on a trip to Cabo with fellow (in)courage writers, and the weeks leading up to the trip, I was so anxious about being with so many people in a new place after becoming used to being at home with my immediate family for so long.
In a message thread pre-trip, I shared how anxious I was feeling, and my friend Rachel wrote and said something like, “We are ready to see and be with you — and not just who you were before but who you’ve become.”
Her words of welcome beckoned me to ask myself if I was ready to see and be with the person I’d become after the last two years.
I realized that I didn’t want to schedule a doctor’s appointment and then be asked about blood work and mammograms because I hadn’t fully received who I’d become. I am not merely a woman facing midlife; I am a woman who’s faced nights without sleep, dark doubts, hurt, and anger. I am a woman who’s wrestled against bitterness throughout the last two years of church transitions, soul-sucking news headlines, changes in relationships, and changes within myself. I am a woman who is weary and unsure of how to welcome all of the weariness within me.
I push my Nikes into the silver footrest protruding from the patient bed while the white paper crinkles under my weight, and I think about how many places my ever-changing body has taken me and how it’s carried me home again and again. I wiggle my toes to remind myself to be in my skin and to wake up to what is. I whisper a prayer, asking Jesus, our God who comes near, the master of being with us right where we are, “Help me welcome who I’ve become. Let me experience Your love for my body, mind, and heart right now.”
I watch the blood work vials fill up, and I remember how Jesus offered His own blood not only to give me life but to welcome every part and year of me.
I recall His words in Matthew 11:28 while sitting in the cold hospital room, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,” as if He’s right there with me, arms wide open to all of midlife, pandemic-changed me.
Jesus welcomes weariness. He knew we would become weary, and He knows what it’s like to feel the weariness we feel deep in our bones. He doesn’t chastise or shame us for it. Jesus never said, “Try harder, do better, or get back to who you were in body, mind, or spirit.” Instead, Jesus offers a consistent place to rest our weary hearts. Jesus, the one who often had nowhere to rest His own head, calls us towards Himself, welcomes who we have become, and says, “It’s okay. I see you. Let me feed you and give you rest.”
How have you changed after the last few years and how can you give yourself space to be welcomed, loved, and cared for just as you are today?
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Leave a Comment
Amy H. says
Thank you so very much for sharing this article and your feelings.
Everything you’ve said resonates within me.
Blessings to you~
Just like Amy, everything you have said resonates with me also….and I am 70 years old. I thank you also for your thought provoking words and add blessings to you as well!
Thank you so much, Louise.
Amy, I’m so glad the post resonated with you. You aren’t alone!
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Dear Tasha Jun, thank you for this poignant faith filled post. I empathize with you and so needed your message to welcome who I’ve become. The past few months due to spinal surgery and a malfunction of my spinal cord stimulator causing me to be tased by this device in my back have been very difficult. I’m slowly learning to walk again with a walker.I’m battling anxiety attacks and depression as we figure out what my new normal is going to be. But your words give my heart comfort. You are in my prayers. ❤️
I’m thankful for you being open and honest with your readers. I think many can relate but sometimes feel alone in where we are in our lives especially those not so perfect times that we all experience at some point or another.
Your message helped others know that our paths are similar and we’re not alone.
Susan, I’m sorry for the times you’ve felt alone and I hope you will know in growing measure, that you are not alone. So glad you are here.
I’m so sorry for how difficult the last few months have been! That all sounds so painful and wearisome and my heart feels for you, friend. I hope and pray you can be gentle with yourself in the process. I’m thankful the words today brought comfort, and I pray that the Comforter will continue to provide that, day and night, as you recover and adjust. You aren’t alone and we are so glad you are in this community.
Yes, I have changed. I have been thinking I have aged terribly these past 2 years. I am not myself either. But, I am making changes and one that included moving. It is daunting to do at my age but, maybe naively, I am movng back to my adopted home and back to good friends. I have prayed trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me and why I was feeling this way. So I have placed these heavy burdens on Jesus. It is scary bit I know I am not alone and this gives me great comfort. So thank you for sharing this.
Nothing is wrong with you. Madeline, I’m so glad you have had the courage to both move towards what you needed in this season and place your burdens on Jesus. It can be scary but you are brave and you aren’t alone.
Ruth Mills says
Thank you for this! It brought to mind that I not only need to give space to who I’ve become/am becoming but also to others. They too are works in progress in The Master’s hands & I need to look for & celebrate the growth in godliness even as our bodies morph & decline. I need to cheerlead Jesus’ work in & for us! Thank you again for being the spark to give space to myself & others!
Donna Meredith Dixon says
Tasha your post reflects much of my musings through these past two years (+). I’ve not thought about self-compassion from a holding space for myself perspective, and I’m grateful for your writing. AND thank you for your words Ruth… learning to hold space for and with others is life-changing.
Donna, I’m so glad the words here gave you a chance to consider self-compassion, which really is receiving the compassion Jesus has for you. I hope you will feel it in tangible ways. We are so glad you are here!
Yes, definitely, Ruth. That’s so important and I’ve found that when I neglect giving space for my own changes, I struggle to welcome the changes and weariness of others. It’s a connected dance, for sure.
Sharon Baugh says
I moved to a new state and went to the DMV for a new license. When the examiner gave me my temporary paper license I couldn’t understand why she was giving me a picture of this old woman! Then I realized it was me! I thought how did I get so old! So I went home and thought of how God had seen me through the last three years. How blessed I was to be healthy and safe. I went out and brought a new shade of lipstick and applied more moisturizer to my old face. It is hard as you say to slide into our new seasons. But women have alway be strong and full of grace! So when I turn 70 in July, I’m still going to think “how did I get so old”! But hopefully I’ll smile big wearing my new shade of lipstick! Thank you for sharing! That’s what makes us women strong!
Sharon, I never enjoy seeing the results of my DMV photo – I think there’s something in the processing. Ha ha ha. I love how you bought a new shade lipstick – what a way to welcome yourself! So glad you are here.
Tasha glad you found brave and decided to look after your physical and emotional wellbeing. Taking a risk and finding a new doctor, doing the tests and then trying to step back into community takes courage. I admire you doing this. I have done a quiet quit. A pandemic showed me who really was not my community. I just don’t have the heart to try again.
Sue, thanks for those sweet words. There are seemingly little things that do take great courage for some of us. Things aren’t really as measurable as we think they should be.
I’m so sorry for the quiet quit you’ve experienced, and for the loss of community. That is no small thing in any kind of measurement and I feel such an ache as I read your words, because however different the details may be, I know that kind of deep disappointment and loss of hope. You aren’t alone in that place. It’s okay if you feel unsure that good is still at work – I am praying that even so, it will surprise you.
God, you who knows no boundaries – not the boundaries of time and space, broken relationships or fractures, or of social media and computer screens, be near to Sue. May your name, Emmanuel, become a tangible reality to her in a fresh way. Give her a safe and spacious place to lament her losses of relationship and hope. Catch her tears as the treasures they are. Remind her that you aren’t bound or silent, but near and moving despite what’s seen. Quench her thirst. Provide the manna of new community. Restore what’s been taken, lost, or broken. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Nancy Ruegg says
Thank you for your encouragement to press on: 1) with what we know needs to be done–like self-care, 2) learning what it means to rest in Jesus, 3) discovering who we are in the various seasons of life, and 4) celebrating who we are and what we have to offer in the various seasons of life. With you, I ask Jesus to “help me welcome who I’ve become. Let me experience Your love for my body, mind, and heart right now”–at age 73 (though I don’t feel that old at all)!
This is lovely, Tasha! Thank you!
Jacque Joy says
This article touched my soul. Your transparency was a welcomed breath of fresh air. As a 61 year old black woman trying to navigate life, past hurts, my inner child and loss of friends because of their unwillingness to understand my needs during this most difficult time, your words soothed my soul. I’ve always taken second, but not now. Thank you sweet one
Beth Williams says
A few years ago Lisa Jo Baker wrote “The Middle Matters”. She talks about loving yourself-the woman you’ve become (warts & all) in your forties. Don’t fret over how you look. That can be hard at times. Looking in the mirror we often wonder how we got this way. The last two years have taken their toll on many a woman. There were so many changes & challenges to handle. I have just recently come into my own & started loving who I am & where I am in life. Thanks for a great article.