Nothing you confess
could make me love you less.
I was so nervous, really. I felt like I was sitting outside the elementary school's principal's office, waiting to see the big cheese. The one who might give me a look of disappointment. I never had to do that as a child, visit the principal's office, but just the thought held me in fear and dread.
Yesterday, as I sat in an office filled with lots of nervous people, some of those same feelings of fear and dread came up for me. Lots of "what ifs" circled my mind.
What if I hadn't made enough progress?
What if he was disappointed in me?
What if I was kicked out, just like he had gently threatened?
What if I wasn't enough?
In most of my adult life, those questions don't haunt me.
I know that God loves me, even though I am so far from perfect.
I know that my family loves me and cares about me.
I know I am God's precious daughter and that He is with me always, no matter what.
Yet I also know that the unconditional love I receive from God and my loved ones, the kind that I feel in my heart and soul, does not come from everyone. There are some tough folks out there and some of them are even mean.
Let me go back a bit and tell you a little about the backstory.
I'm not really sure when the heart arrhythmias started, my heart racing so fast I thought it would jump right out of my chest. My best guess was that I was in high school. I saw it as no big deal, after all I came from a family where it was a grave sin to complain.
"No Complaining" was a family "motto." Even if you were born with one hand and a partial second hand, there were always traumas that were so much worse. Not a word of feeling sorry for yourself was allowed.
Stoic had worked for my Mom and my Dad. They were old-school tough, and I always admired their hard work ethic and
lack of complaint.
Somehow as a family we never thought that there was a difference between sharing your hurt and pain and being a "whiner."
Yet I digress.
Back to the heart arrhythmia. As a young person I somehow developed a few techniques to make my racing heart go back to its normal rhythm.
I'm quite sure that I didn't even mention this anomaly to my doctor at physical exams.
Yet as I got into college and later got married, I noticed that stress and caffeine exacerbated the problem. It just got a little bit worse over time.
Then, several years ago, my heart was racing and I tried the usual "tricks" to make it stop. It went on for several hours and nothing worked. I started to feel scared. Finally, my beloved Bert said, with unusual severity, "Linda, please get in the truck. We are going to the hospital." Of course I tried to talk him out of that, but he was insistent.
Long story short, I ended up in the Heart Trauma Center at Sacred Heart Hospital. I had four doctors and nurses working on me and I was hooked up to all kinds of heart-monitoring equipment.
The amazing cardiologist on call, smiled and talked the whole time he was working. The questions seemed innocent enough.
"What do you do for a living?" he said.
"I'm a teacher," I replied.
"Of course," he said.
"What does 'Of course' mean?" I said with a small amount of defensiveness in my voice.
"Teachers are great at taking care of others, but struggle to really take care of themselves," he said gently, feverishly working on me without looking up.
"Oh," was all I could muster.
He got me. No two ways about it. Truth told. Not good at self-care, great at caring for others. The room was silent.
I got to go home with a ration of medication and he referred me to a cardiologist. I asked if that was really necessary? He looked at me as if I must be hard of hearing.
"Yes, it is necessary!" he said with what seemed like undo
And that's how I got to know Dr. Timothy Lessmeier, not just a cardiologist, my cardiologist. I don't mention him often, okay almost never.
Compared to what so many people go through I just can't
bare to say, "You know, I have a bit of a heart problem."
Dr. Lessmeier said yesterday, "Do you ever tell them that your Dad died from heart failure?" "Nope, I leave that detail out," I said with a somewhat somber tone.
You see I now look at Dr. Lessmeier as my buddy, my heart mentor. My dear friend Vicky Westra has Dr. P, as we affectionately call him, and I have a Dr. L.
At our first meeting he did an exam, gave me an echocardiogram, weighed me, looked at my medical records, asked for a thorough family history, and listened with his heart wide open.
Before I left his office after our first visit he said, "Here's the deal, Linda. I'm all in if you're all in. We will set some goals about weight loss, exercise, self-care and nutrition. If you choose not to work on them, then you need to get a different doctor."
Wow! Well that was straight-talk at its finest!
His goals/my goals became a weight loss of ten pounds a year, walking regularly, some self-care, and eating a more heart-healthy diet. These sound great on paper, but are not always easy to pull off in real life. This past year has had a few bumps in the road, including my beloved Bert's TIA stroke, so self-care hasn't been a top priority.
So yesterday, at my yearly appointment, it was time to check in. Did I keep my promises? That's why, as I sat in his waiting room I felt like I was outside the principal's office. I felt like I was going to throw up.
Bless his heart! Bless my heart! After an exam, echocardiogram, being weighed and being lovingly cross- examined, I made all my goals. Okay, I actually lost 13 pounds, three more than necessary.
Dr. Lessmeier looked at me, smiled and said, "You're easy.
You did it! I knew you would!"
"How did you know I would," I asked, with a small grin on my face.
"You're a teacher, kiddo!"
I confessed to him that I had been nervous and hoped I wouldn't let myself down or let him down. I confessed that most of all I didn't want to let God down. After all, he gifted me with this body.
I confessed that I never told most folks that my Dad died from heart disease probably because I was afraid that I might die from that
too. The tears started to flow, his and mine.
Dr. Lessmeir shook his head and said with emphasis,
"You're a keeper, Linda. You're one of a kind. You have a big heart. We will work together to keep it healthy. You have so many reasons to be alive. God's not done with you yet! I'll see you next year and you'll have made even more progress!"
I'm a keeper. He'll see me next year. I'll make even more progress. God's not done with me yet. That's good news to my ears!
He gave me a big hug on his way out and turned and smiled,
"Have a great day, kiddo!" "You too," I said grinning as I got up to leave his office.
As I left Dr. Lessmeier, I couldn't help but remember something my Mom told me years and years ago. "Honey," she said, "confession is good for the soul." You were right Mom, once again you were oh so right!
Planting a seed is believing in tomorrow . ...