Monday, November 2, 2015

Being Beautiful

I remember looking in the mirror after I shaved my head during chemotherapy and thinking, “Wow, I look like a mini gangster.” Then I vowed not to let anyone else see my bald head, not even my husband. I wore hats all the time, soft hats to sleep, casual hats indoors, and my fancy hats out in public. I thought, ok, I can do this. Then I gained weight. Who is supposed to gain weight during chemotherapy?

Apparently I was. After my dose of chemotherapy, and the following days of no appetite, I would load up. I didn’t want to get too skinny. I knew how destructive that could be, so I ate when I could, focusing on protein to keep my blood counts up, and eating cookies when I couldn’t stomach anything else. It’s funny that I never lost my taste for cookies. I could eat anything I wanted and did. Everyone was happy that I wasn’t losing weight. When do you ever hear that in normal life?
The weight piled on, all across my abdomen. Now in the mirror a bald little person with a big belly peered back. I thought, “Great, now I look like Buddha.” I stopped wearing my contacts and wore glasses most of the time. Before I seldom wore them in public, and now wore them everywhere. It took much less effort to put on glasses than to mess with contact lenses, and I was tired. Every little bit of energy saved, helped. Also no make-up. Too tired for that. I started to take the hats off while at home. Hot flashes made them too uncomfortable. I only had a few eyelashes left, my eyebrows were hanging in there but definitely looked sparse. So there I was not even recognizing myself in the mirror. Forget about what I saw while in the shower or bath. Ugh. 
In the midst of all of this, I received a card from my husband. It was addressed, “to my beautiful wife.” I thought, “He must be out of his mind.” What I counted on for my external beauty was all stripped away. Then I thought about my husband. What if the role was reversed? What if he lost his “physical” beauty? Would I stop loving him? Of course not. When you realize you might lose someone dear to you it makes you love them all the more. Your time together becomes precious. Appearances truly do not matter. And isn’t God like that? He loves when we feel unlovable. When we feel ugly or act ugly, God still loves us, deeply, and eternally. 

Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39.

Devo 14, excerpted from: The bald headed, tattooed, motorcycle mama’s devotional guide: For Women Battling Cancer and Those Who Love Them. Copyright © 2013 by Sara Nelson O’Brien.

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