Mother knows best. My mother taught me that there are some things in life that have to be done annually. Every year I get my teeth cleaned and my eyes checked. And I have taught my children—and my husband—to do the same thing, too. I read somewhere that having all these annual appointments during the same month of the year, your birthday month, allows you always to know when to go. So when your children are grown and on their own, they can always remember when to get their teeth cleaned and their eyes checked.
For me, of course, these annual appointments also include the dreaded obstetrical appointment. Every year, during my birthday month, I go for my annual exam. Like many women, I really despise my yearly checkup. Then, as I got older, the annual mammogram was thrown into the mix. I have never been able to make myself self-examine my breasts, probably because of residual effects of my abuse. I have read about the benefits of doing monthly self-exams, and I know in theory how to do them, but I just cannot.
At some point, I became aware that my stress level during this month of annual doctors’ visits was increasing. In particular, I realized that as the doctors’ appointments approached I would start binge-eating and often gain several pounds just in time for my annual weigh-in. Over the course of several years, I discovered that my weight-gains followed a cycle. The anticipation of my annual physical was so traumatic for me that I would just go to pieces over it. I had friends go with me for support, and for a while I stopped getting mammograms altogether.
Then I started going to counseling. When the time came for me to schedule my yearly appointments, I really wanted things to be different. I did not want to binge or have a breakdown. I wanted to be calm and peaceful. I hated that my birthday month had become an unhappy time every year. So I brought up my problem to my counselor and she reminded me (again) that my abuse was something awful that had been done to me and not something that I had brought onto myself. She also reminded me that these annual doctors’ visits benefit my health, not only for my sake but for my husband’s and children’s sakes as well.
About a week before my annual checkup, my counselor taught me a “safe place” relaxation technique. As I went into my appointment, I was to go to my safe place and relax. I was actually excited about the prospect of going to the obstetrician, using my new relaxation skill, and then reporting back the next week during counseling. I am here to tell you that God worked in a mighty way! My exam went great, the best ever! And the next thing I knew, I was even through with my mammogram. It was unbelievable that I got through both appointments in only two hours. It happened so fast that I just sat in my car afterwards, stunned and in awe of God’s goodness and timing. These annual checkups that had caused me so much anguish for so many years had just flown by.
So, I am here to encourage you today. Do you struggle with this same issue? Do you need peace of mind? John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV). God can give you peace of mind, and God will give you peace of mind. You just have to remember, as I have to remember, that although something evil was done to us we can move past that and not let it influence our lives today. Grab God’s hand, go with Him to that safe place, and enjoy peace of mind.
Blessings – Lisa