Nothing felt abnormal or different when I woke up. I did what I do every Tuesday morning. I grabbed my phone off the stand and checked the time. I begrudgingly sat up, perched on the edge of the bed with my feet dangled for a few minutes.
Moments later I made my way to the bathroom in a morning state that only my husband has the pleasure of witnessing, messy bun high and stray hairs wild. What I saw looking back at me was anything but normal though, not because of a hard night’s rest or a backwards sleep shirt.
No, what I saw in the reflection could only be viewed from a one-sided perspective. That’s because my left eye was swollen shut, and it wasn’t like that when I went to sleep.
Taking my dramatic introduction to this story aside, I did feel quite a bit of panic. My assumption is most people would experience a normal amount of concern at such an unexpected sight. Mine escalated for selfish but human reasons though.
It was Tuesday. My firstborn’s baby shower was scheduled for Saturday, an occasion sure to be well documented visually for years to come. All I could repeatedly think was “Dear God, I cannot look like this by Saturday.” (Take me as vain or relate to me as normal. I’m just being honest!)
My unofficial experience and training from WebMD and Google took over. I assumed a doctor’s visit was pointless because I’m limited in what can be given to me in almost my third trimester (this was later confirmed in a last ditch effort of an ER visit. They couldn’t offer me anything to help).
The next few hours were easily filled with anything therapeutic in my pantry or fridge ending up on my face (ice, honey, cucumber, etc.) while I practiced the art of sleuthing, mentally revisiting ever action I had taken over the last few days that led to this point.
What I had once thought were infected mosquito bites days prior was soon deduced to instead be a severe case of exposure to poison sumac – poison ivy and poison oak’s lesser known ugly brother-cousin.
What could have been contained to a normal bought of exposure grew continuously for four days simply because 1) I didn’t realize I had touched it and 2) I proceeded to do laundry… on my bed… right after gardening instead of showering. In short, I was using towels and sleeping in sheets for four nights that had the plant’s oil all over it.
Fun fact I learned through this process: Clearly I’m allergic to the poisonous trifecta. Clearly my husband is not. #imnotbitter
Fast forward to midday. I’m sitting in my living room, looking out the window. It’s quiet. It’s dark inside. I’m itchy and was taking a break from the mission of scrubbing down every item in the house to void it of the newfound evil plant I had just learned about.
In the stillness though, I was reminded to talk to Lord. Our next conversation had the same air about it as Jesus and Peter’s Q&A conversation in John 21.
“Lord, would you please heal my face by this Saturday? I’m aware how selfish that sounds. I know how silly it sounds compared to other people’s needs. But if you’re willing, would you make this swelling go away by then?”
“Would you be mad at me if I didn’t clear it up, Kayla? What if I didn’t heal your face?”
“I mean… I wouldn’t understand it Lord. I know you’re capable. It’s quite possible for you to do it… but no. I wouldn’t be mad. I would be extremely confused, but not mad.”
“Would you still love me if I didn’t take it away?”
This one was a little more difficult to answer and took some reflection first.
“Lord, of course I would still love you. You’ve saved me. You’ve changed who I am. You’ve blessed my life. If it’s not in your plans to take this away, then I guess I’ll trust it. You must have a reason. It’s a reason I don’t understand at all, but I won’t stop loving you. Just let me know what you want me to do from here, please.”
“You do what you can do Kayla. I’ll do what I can do.”
In the next moments, I pretty much took that as the politest way of God saying “Giddy up.”
So, I did what I could do. I washed and dried everything linen in the house. I heavily invested in oatmeal baths and Cortisone cream. I stopped wearing makeup and started bathing in Dawn soap. I settled in for the long haul of what I read was a two-to-three week journey of scratching and soaking.
I intentionally didn’t join in on Wednesday Bible Study the next evening for both my comfort and everyone else’s. You know how when one person yawns and everyone else ends up following suit? Imagine that but with eyes on the person incessantly scratching on one of the front rows.
It ended up though that I still needed to run an item up to the church at the end of service. A handful of people caught me in the parking lot sitting in my car waiting for Matt to come out. Each one started off with similar comments after the window rolled down.
“I heard about what happened, but I thought it was all over your face? It really doesn’t look that bad.”
Such nice people. Such a friendly church, trying to make a splotchy faced pregnant woman feel better about herself. I took it as kindness and nothing more.
Something kept eating at me when I got home though to look in a mirror. To not be obsessed and upset, I had avoided looking in anything reflective for the prior 24+ hours. As I rounded the corner to only look back at myself, I was literally in shock. I was still itchy all over. My rash was still everywhere else on my body – but my face. My face was almost completely back to normal.
I am confident God alone healed my face. My spiritual claims are built on the fact that other witnesses can verify the rash still covered the rest of my limbs and stomach for the next two weeks.
I still have some places still recovering. But my face? My face was back to normal in a couple of days. Only my face. When other areas actually progressed and became worse, my face did the opposite. I view that as a healing. (Someone told me in hindsight that I should have been more specific and pray for my whole body to be healed!)
God is the master of what we consider the big ticket prayer items. He also equally cares for the concerns we find trivial and not worth talking to Him about. What if I had not gone to Him with this worry? In fact – how many things am I not talking to Him about right now that I’m choosing to shoulder alone?
Here’s the realization and truth I’ve found and am still working through in this process. God wants us in our crises moments.
More than that though, He wants our daily lives. Only communicating with Him when we can’t handle something equates Him to a genie in a magic lamp. It’s our hearts subconsciously speaking, “I’m asking you because I can’t do this on my own.” But I’ve been reminded that God wants not just what we can’t handle.
He wants what we think we can handle as well. He wants to be in our daily lives. He wants our overwhelming and our boring. He wants our life interruptions and our monotonous. He desires our big and our small.
He wants our everything. He wants your everything. He loves you, and He wants that full relationship – openness, intimacy, connection, vulnerability -- with you.
Our Father through Jesus Christ raised the dead. He drove demons out of people. He made lame people to walk and for blind people to see again. He did the impossible. He responded when people asked.
But, He also did the possible. He equally helped in the matters people felt were too trivial to talk to Him about. He provided food for discouraged fishermen. (Luke 5). He healed a man’s deformed man, though still capable of working and providing (Luke 6).
He even healed a man of swelling in his limbs, AKA edema. (Luke 14). In each of these cases and more, no one asked for the Lord’s help – yet He was still equally willing to provide, to heal, to help, and to restore.
I share my account in hopes that even one person who reads this will step into the next level of closeness with the Lord. For some, that might be talking to Him for the first time or requesting to see His realness in their life. For others, it could be tearing down the wall brick-by-brick that separates them, God, and an area of their life where He hasn’t had access. Either way, my aim is that the conversation begins at all.
You see it as a small step, as small faith. He sees it as a chasm closing.
“Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:11)
“Here is another illustration Jesus used: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants...” (Matthew 13:31-32)
“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28)