Courageous not braveBy loreen sarmiento
Cebu Daily News
More than six years ago, I always tried hard to convince myself and other people that I was basically fine. It was easy for me to mouth a military officer’s often-heard statement: “Everything is under control.” I thought of myself as the one in control. And so I showed people everything’s ok even if I knew that things were not.
Today, I am still confident that things are in control but without “me” in the equation. The gospel has taught me to stop pretending and trying to control what other people think about me.
It is teaching me that yes, I do have the strength but not by my own merits. St. Paul wrote this in Philippians 4:13- “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Because of the gospel, I have now the strength to admit I’m weak and needy and restless because I know that Christ will be all the strength, fulfillment and peace I could ever want and more.
And so when my doctor told me the other day that I need to undergo a total abdominal hysterectomy eight days from now, I admit I did not bravely take it in. It’s going to be my first experience of going under the knife and I am scared.
My cervix and my uterus will be removed. Only my ovaries will be preserved. I was diagnosed to have Diffused Odenomyosis or an enlarged uterus because of multiple myomas found in it.
There was no way out. No more compromise for an operation because the size of my uterus can’t be managed anymore by medication. If I opt not to be operated, I will continue to suffer severe menstrual pains. Every month since January, I couldn’t walk because of this oppression. Last week, I experienced more. I fainted!
On Wednesday night, I didn’t get any sleep because I felt knives stabbing my abdomen no matter what position I took. Early the following morning I got up with the same heavy feeling but later found myself lying on the floor. I didn’t know how I got there. All I kneow was that I was still writhing in pain.
In the next 10 minutes, I experienced how it was to struggle against blacking out again. I struggled back to my daughter’s bedroom and shouted for help because I was losing consciousness.
In between giving instructions to her what to do , I was crying out “Lord, Lord…save me. Don’t put me to sleep!”
And then peace came to me, I fell on the bed, tired and relieved but also alarmed that this was not my normal self and that seeing a doctor was top agendum that day.
When I heard the doctor’s verdict, I was not brave. But when I reached home, I knew I needed to be courageous not brave.
Bravery is not being afraid of anything at all. Courage is acknowledging fear but being able to manage it knowing that a Greater Power is more in control and will take care of everything. So that’s what I have, a “surrendering fear”.
In the back of my head, that nagging question pops up : “What if I don’t wake up after the three-hour operation? “
I don’t deny this creepy feeling but I know I can pull though because my God is telling me “Relax, it is finished. The pressure’s off.”
I know I will be better after the operation. I know that this is happening to me for a reason. I guess God still has so much for me to do for Him and He wants me to be relieved of the monthly pains I’ve been having.
That Thursday morning incident was more of a push than a nudge from Him to go see the doctor finally. I confess I had put this off for many months now because I thought these were normal pains to bear.
But God really watched over me. He knew something was wrong with my body and knowing me, the only way to make me go to the doctor was to scare me. That morning blackout did scare me!
With God, I know I have nothing to prove or protect. I can take off my mask and be real. He has taught me to stop trying to impress people, appease people, measure up for people, or prove myself to people.
No matter what form that fear takes, I will surrender to it.
The gospel gave me His promise: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
So what if I’m scared? So what if people see me weak? So what if I admit I don’t know this or that? So what if someone hurts or rejects me? I know there’s a God who knows me inside-out and accepts me for who I am. This is what makes me contented and angry-free.
I am not confident in me, but in God whom I have anchored my significance, security and identity. I don’t have to always win but I’m free to be afraid to lose!
Writing all these has somehow helped me to be strong for the operation on July 9 because I know I have shared with you my innermost fear, yet believe in faith that you will be praying for my victory.
With God and your prayers, I am not brave but courageous.