Small Miracles

I'm a definite believer in miracles, angels, and God. I can't decide if I believed in such things so strongly FIRST, and then had experiences that made me believe even more, or if I had the experiences first, and then believed. I think, after writing it out, it must have been the former and not the latter. In any case, I've had some pretty amazing, fascinating things happen to me over the course of my life - supernatural sorts of things that I can't rule out as anything other than the work of God, or angels (in another word, miracles). They were very SMALL miracles, mind you - nothing terribly significant such as people coming back to life or spontaneous remission of disease - but they were really meaningful moments in my life at times when I needed extra support (and I only know of 3, over the course of my whole life, so there weren't many). I'm not going to write about the old miracles here, but if someone needs to hear of them, I'm happy to meet you and tell you about them!

In writing this, I am now sure that it was my faith in God that helped me through the death of my Mom. I was 12, so it was the time of thinking of grander schemes like the afterlife, especially if death is something that touches you so personally. I had been raised Catholic, but at 12 you think things through for your own self, also. During that hard time, I decided that since none of the living people on earth had actually died yet, they couldn't tell me that there WASN'T something after this life. I could believe what I wanted, and since it was a nicer belief, I believed that God had taken my Mom to a better place. I also decided, and repeated this to myself over and over so much that it still sounds like I am repeating from my 12-year old self, that "Everyone has a purpose, and she must have fulfilled hers early." It was a comforting belief.

I BELIEVED that my mom had a purpose, I tried to still believe that I had one too, after my breast cancer diagnosis. Perhaps I had this scare, and my purpose was connected to it in some way. God would use this to teach me some lessons, and maybe I can help people through my challenges. I don't think I really started to question my thinking (or maybe not question, but be sad with the situation) until I found out that I have the genetic mutation in my BRCA 1 gene. It was at that point that the sad thoughts started really pouring in, because having the genetic mutation seems more sinister than just having breast cancer. My genetic code isn't behind me, trying to stop tumors from happening. What does it mean that God chose to give ME this expiration date from the very beginning of things? Even my grandma, who ostensibly passed this gene on to me, lived to her 60s, had 6 children, and saw some of her grandchildren. Why was this not only my genetic destiny, but why did this happen to me at 34? God not only wants to get rid of me, but my body won't even support me in this. God went to greater lengths to get rid of this one!

So I started to challenge my belief that everyone has a purpose in life, because I don't want part of my purpose in life to be dying early. I already lived through the early death of my mom, and though there are blessings that did fill up some of the void of being a motherless daughter, I DO NOT want that to be the life of my children. I don't want my husband to lose his wife early, either. In my heart and from my experience I know they could still live lives filled with blessings, but there is also a fair amount of misery and loneliness to get through first and the thought of them having to go through that is too much for me.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I was angry with God, even though I felt like my belief was being challenged. I mostly felt overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, sad. It's hard to suddenly maybe not believe in something you've believed in for 22 years, but it's worse to think you're going to die early and leave those you love the most.

I didn't know what to think, but also, I wasn't thinking much at all - the thoughts were probably all just unconscious, under-the-radar thoughts. In my everyday life, I'm pretty sure I barely think at all - I spend my day doing things, cleaning things, or just talking to kids. Higher thinking only goes on in my brain when I'm talking seriously to other adults (and since I am horrible at using the phone, and almost always nervous when talking in person, that is just about never), when I'm erging* (and I was on erging haitus after the surgery, and still am not up to enough meters to get into a good thinking zone. And by the way, I never erg hard enough to get past the thinking zone, so that explains why I am never in good shape even though I like erging so much), or when I'm writing. (This explains why I need the blog, if there was ever a time for one, it is now, otherwise these thoughts would just stay way down deep inside and make me miserable.) I mostly only know if I'm overwhelmingly sad once the sadness becomes so serious that I can't even move anymore and I have to think my way out of it.

I was in this sad place on the Monday after my second chemo treatment. I didn't have enough energy to do anything or keep busy, I knew I was sad but I couldn't do anything about it. I felt like God did not want me around, and I didn't want me around much, either, since God didn't seem to have a use for me. It was a seriously low point...but then, a small miracle! A coincidence happened that is almost too coincidental to NOT be a small miracle. It seems silly to write it down, but I will anyway...just please don't comment on this if you aren't believing in my small miracle, because I am happy having it be one. It wasn't life changing, it was even more subtle than the other things that have happened in the past.

Here it is - the acupuncturist recommended something to help pull me out of my black mood (I wasn't sure, still don't know if it worked or not), and just before I got home from the acupuncturist, a friend named Laura dropped off that very same herbal treatment on my doorstep...she had gone to the store, and someone there recommended it for me, but the timing of it all was uncanny. The recommendation and the drop off happened at almost the same time.

Also - I have only met Laura twice in real life, at a book club. She's not someone who has become attached to me through years and experiences; she is just an incredibly generous and loving person, a woman with 4 busy and special children at 3 different schools, who is taking time out of her day to think about the random acquaintance that is me, drive to the store, talk to people about what I might need, buy those things, drive all the way to my house, drop things off on my doorstep, and then drive back to her house where she sends me an email that she dropped something off (because she never even rings the doorbell, she doesn't want to disturb me, though she has spent at least an hour and probably more, thinking of me).

Anyway, for me the thing that makes a miracle a miracle is NOT the coincidence that makes you wonder, but the feeling that comes after it happens. When I opened the bag and saw that this "Rescue Remedy" was inside, I did wonder at the coincidence, but I also felt some sort of strange relief from my sadness. I had a feeling that God wasn't so upset with his creation (me) that he had to get rid of it early, I felt like I wasn't worthless to God, or to the earth or to my fellow humans (because part of me knows my family would be fine without me, and since I spend my whole life taking care of them, what does that mean about my worth as a person?). Here is possibly one of the busiest people I have ever met, opening up herself to my problems, and worrying about me, not only just when it fits her schedule, but on the day that I needed it the most. It just seems miraculous, and with the few things I know about Laura I feel like God did pick her to send me a message, and she did, and I am so grateful. If I could be worthwhile to Laura, then maybe I am worthwhile to others who know me even more, and maybe, maybe, I am worthwhile to God. That's a relief.

*Erg is what rowers call the specific rowing machine they use, made by Concept 2. They are called indoor rowers, or rowing ergometers.

**I've been trying to figure out how to write this whole thing for 3 weeks, and didn't even know how to begin to open this thought process in my mind, or how to put it in a way that it could show people that God (or a higher being, if you aren't a person who talks or believes in God with that name, per se) does have a hand in things on this earth. I wish I was even better at expressing this, but today the need to get it all out became even more desperate as Laura left ANOTHER bunch of presents on my porch. I feel I have to write about this, even if I bungle it, just so that God will tell her, it's ok, don't spend any more money on Pam! because though the presents are so wonderful, I want her to feel some relief from worrying about me. I will always feel like Laura was part of a small miracle, I will always know that she is a gift from God to her fellow people (especially me), and I will always be in awe over the small and wonderful things that happened.

***In writing this, I remembered that I do truly believe that God loves people that are imperfect in human terms, and I think it is sometimes even easier to see the love of God through the imperfection of humans. So then I wonder, why did I feel so unloved when smacked right in the face with the evidence that I am faulty and imperfect? I'll have to think about that later, as I've been putting off lunchtime for two very hungry little kids!

1 comment:

Bethany said...


Just catching up on your blog. I have so very many thoughts but I wanted to leave you with 2. One is that I think you never would have untapped this gift of writing without God using you to do so at this point in your life. You will never know how many are impacted by this blog not the least of which is me so thank you for that. Every time I see you I just want to tell you that much.

Second, as you ponder your final thought in this entry, here is a web site for you to look at. If you have some time, read through her story. It is the best example I can think of of an "imperfect human" so obviously spreading God's love without speaking a single word. www.babymeghan.org.
Thinking of and praying for you daily. I am so proud of you!
Bethany Salter