Several years ago I woke up in the middle of the night, and my right arm felt strange. It felt very weak, and it was a chore just to lift it up. Days before, I had volunteered to help a friend paint her bedroom, so I just assumed it was a pinched nerve. But as the days went on, there was no improvement.
My extended family came in for my daughter's graduation from North Carolina State—just two days before we were to leave for Italy. I tried to pick up a drinking glass, and it felt as if I were lifting a ton of bricks. I could hardly pick up the glass. The house was overflowing with out-of-town guests, and my home was filled with joy and laughter. However, my niece was very concerned about my arm and convinced me to go to the urgent care facility. The entire time I was thinking, "This is such a waste of time."
The nurse took me back, asked a few questions, and then promptly left the room. The urgent care doctor came in almost immediately. He asked a few more questions, and then with a very grim look on his face, he said, "I'm sorry, but this is neurological." It didn't even register to me what that meant. He gave me a few potential diagnoses of what it could be: a stroke, an aneurysm, MS or the deadly, incurable, intensely painful ALS. What? It pains me even to write those words.
He told me to see a doctor as soon as I returned from my trip and indicated that it would be a process of elimination to get a diagnosis. They would rule out one thing at a time.
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom" (Ps. 90:12). The Lord was certainly doing this in my life.
I gathered my things and left the doctor's office in complete shock. It was overwhelming. At night, when the lights went out, my face would hit my pillow, and I would cry out to God almost the entire night. I begged God to please let me live. I begged God to please heal my body, all the while feeling totally abandoned by Him. I felt completely empty. I felt alone. I felt as if my Creator did not care about me. But deep inside I knew He was truly there to hear my cries.
Little did I know, when I got to a doctor, I would be given a potential death sentence with no chance of recovery and was told I may die within two years. There was no cure, and there was no treatment. For one entire year of my life, I waited to die.
When the year of waiting to die was up, I went back to the Mayo Clinic. Tests were run. Inexplicably there was no sign of the disease and no further damage. A year and a half later the Mayo Clinic released me with no explanation because they could not determine what had happened to me. To say I was relieved would be a huge understatement.
However, during that first year I had to deal with many internal struggles regarding end-of-life issues. One question that continually came to mind was, "What makes life worth living for me?"
Slowly the answers came. I realized that living a life that has worth and value is living a life that pleases God. What did I learn? I learned the importance of loving deeply. I learned how to forgive without reservation. I learned to treasure the little things in life. I learned who I was and what I truly believed. I learned to have a heart of gratitude, and most importantly I learned how to surrender.
How would I view my life from the rearview mirror?
Not only did the issue with my health change the way I think about day to day living, but it also gave me a desire to accomplish the God-inspired goals I had conveniently put on hold. It gave me the impetus to finish projects that had been on my heart for years. It gave me a desire to say "thank you" more often and mean it. I wanted to dance more, sing more, laugh more and love more.
I ask you, "Why wait?" Why not live this day as though it were your last?
Robin Bertram is an ordained minister, a Christian speaker and the executive producer and host of the nationally and internationally syndicated television show Freedom Today. She is also the vice president of media relations for Christian Women in Media. She hosts Freedom Today women's conferences in cities across the United States and is the keynote speaker for Bella Women's Network God Crazy Freedom conferences, Thrive WC2016, Christian Women in Media conferences, the upcoming Woman2Woman conferences and the Girlville Cruises. This is an excerpt of her book No Regrets.
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