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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