“I have heard your prayers and seen your tears. I will heal you.” 2 Kings 20:5
It was two days before Thanksgiving 2017, and David held my hand as we walked the underground tunnels of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. I was nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Earlier in the year, some bloodwork came back positive for a possible autoimmune liver disease that could shorten my life, require a liver transplant, or at a minimum, require me to be a patient more often than I’d like. It’s no secret that I prefer to be in control, so this was NOT my comfort zone.
For well over a year, I had just felt poorly. Achy. No energy. Just not myself. I had begun to believe that maybe I was suffering from burn out. More than 60% of physicians in the US report at least one symptom related to burnout. (Physicians also have the highest rates of suicide of any profession; we’ll talk more about that later.) But the more I prayed and reflected on my life, the more I realized that was not it. I wasn’t burned out. I loved the time I spent in the room with my patients. I felt energized and refreshed being around my staff. But I still woke up with dread in my stomach on workdays. Sunday evenings became agony. My babies were just babies, only three and five. I needed to enjoy life! So, I reflected, I prayed, and I had some bloodwork done.
It was like Déjà vu standing in my office alone looking at the results. I had stood there several years before, just months after my own father’s suicide and after years of infertility, looking at test results that weren’t ideal. The first time, it was to tell us that our baby girl, for whom we had prayed so hard, who was given to us at just the perfect time, likely had Down Syndrome. That time, I heard God speak to me as if He were standing in the same room. Softly, but clearly and confidently, “She is fine. She does not have Down Syndrome. I have a big plan for her life.” And a peace washed over me like nothing I had ever experienced, and I knew it was true. We would have loved her the same, but it wasn’t what we wished for her. God assured me in that moment that He had it under control. This time though…. crickets.
I’d felt a desire for a long time to expand my practice of medicine beyond just the traditional sense of family practice. I believed there was a whole-self approach that would genuinely help people, not just put a Band-Aid on their maladies. Spiritual health, sexual health, mental health…. they are all just as important as physical health. God designed our bodies so intricately that no one body system functions independently of another. Proper nutrition, empowerment, confidence, education. These are critical to helping a person lead a full, whole, healthy life. But the modern practice of medicine was so numbers focused. “Sorry, we don’t have time to talk about your life goals or spiritual health, because we must address these cholesterol numbers on this piece of paper and then I must herd dozens more patients through here before I can go home and try to take care of my family. Self-care? What is that?”
Did I mention that it was during a massage one week after my Daddy died that he told me I was going to have a baby very soon? Two days later that pregnancy test was positive after years of tests and procedures and prayers and tears. That’s another beautiful, special story, that might make me seem crazy, but it is true. God loves me (and you) so much that He will give us His best gifts when we need them the most. Because He knows way more about what is coming than we ever will. And massage is important; self-care is important!
So, back to the day I stood looking at these lab results alone in the silence of my office. And nothing. No messages from God, no angelic visitors, no visions, no peace. Nothing. So, I went to see my patients. And I went home and cried. And I saw a local specialist. And I came up with a plan. I would submit a proposal to modify my work schedule. I would see the same number of patients, I could organize my hours so that no staff member would get overtime, but I would have two days off during the week to go to appointments, and by dog it, just be with my babies if my time with them was to be cut short.
And the answer was, “No, we cannot accommodate that.” So, I quit my job and left my work family, people I dearly loved and respected. But that is when I had a sense of peace. David and I had talked about it; I had spoken with an attorney about it; I had the support of my family; and I started dreaming and scheming about what I would do. In a matter of just a few weeks, I was opening my own medical practice and medical spa. I could offer those services and give patients what I thought they deserved. We would go almost broke to do it, (I will tell you more about that later, too!) but that dream deep down in my heart was coming true! It was scary and hard and exciting, and I had no idea what I was doing. But it happened!
A few weeks after we opened, an older friend that I have known most of my life came by. She brought a healing oil with her to anoint me and my hands and my office. No one knew about this diagnosis or that I had an upcoming appointment for a second opinion with the leading expert in the country at Mayo Clinic. I was also raised a good Methodist: we believe in healing oils and anointing; we just don’t do it that often. I had never been anointed. To be honest, I have always had a really difficult time asking for help or for prayers. (Remember that “I like to be in control” thing? Yeah, God has different plans sometimes!) But she anointed me and prayed for me, like she knew already. Maybe she did. She has experienced her own faith healing.
Two and a half months after opening 3:16 Healthcare, two days before Thanksgiving 2017, we walked into that specialist’s office. The day before had been spent doing test after test, repeat labs, imaging studies, the whole nine yards. That day we were meeting to go over the results. And everything was completely normal. Labs, imaging, all of it. Normal. No autoimmune liver disease. No future cut short, no transplants, no follow up appointments. Normal.
A faithful friend is one of life’s greatest treasures. A faithful and obedient friend is invaluable. God heard my prayers; he saw my tears. He knew my heart because He created it. He planted those dreams deep within me. And He gave me the strength, courage, and motivation to move, despite myself. Stubborn, scared, angry…. He used them all for His glory. And He sent a faithful friend to anoint me with healing oils that forever changed my life for the better!