What I Wanted to Tell the Young Girl in the Waiting Room at the Congenital Heart Clinic
As I sat in the waiting room at the congenital heart clinic today, I saw a mom with her pre-teen daughter sit down across from me. As I watched the girl fiddle with her phone and squirm, I remembered the days of being that age and experiencing a long day at the doctor’s with lots of tests and pizza afterwords. I longed to comfort the girl, even though she was playing it cool. Perhaps that was a nudging from God and I missed it, but I felt funny barging in while her mom chatted with friends about her daughter.
Looking back there are so many words I would tell myself as I walked this road of heart stuff, but there are also things I’m glad I didn’t really know until they came along because I think God did the best work prepping me for those moments.
After spending another entire day in a busy place, being told to hold my breath, breathe hard, breathe fast, walk hard, lay still for hours, wear irritating breathing masks, annoying wires, get the skin scrapped off in eight different areas of my chest, receive two IV’s, and go without coffee – it’s hard to feel like a person. In fact, when I was that girl’s age, I didn’t feel like a person most of the time in the middle of my parents and doctors chatting about me while I sat between them.
If I could have told her anything, it would have been along these lines:
You are human, and you are worthy, and you are able. Keep striving for those things you want to do, because there are so many things we are told not to do, and we begin to cancel too many of the the things we can out. I believe that living a vivid, vibrant life is something to pursue fully.
Your family will worry. They will sometimes annoy you. That’s OK. They can deal with it their own ways, but remember you are you. Your heart is yours and now is a good time to make your faith yours too, because that is the most valuable thing you can have right now and for the remainder. Hear out your options and choose the one that suits you. Only you know the beats of your heart and only you can decipher what is a smart move and what is a bad one. Sometimes you won’t know the difference, and that is when faith enters the scene in fullness.
Stay humble in the midst of the victories you have, but stay bold in the face of uneasy battles. It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself for a little bit, but move forward and know you are blessed because your perspective is unlike anyone else’s. You know the true value of life.
The life ahead will be full of tests and office visits, but it can also be full of what truly makes your heart tick. Do what you are called to do, and don’t let limitations defeat you. Sometimes it is scary to step out and be vulnerable in the things you can do, because you think your heart can’t take it, but I promise you – if you don’t pick up that guitar, go on that trip, serve in that area, follow that nudging – you will never feel alive. Those are the things that keep you human and alive. Be smart and get the nod from your doctor, because they want you to live and be alive too. They are on your side, whether sometimes it feels like it or not.
Share your story. Others need to hear it who are facing the same battles as you. No two congenital heart patients are alike, but we can all relate with one another like no one else can.
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Getty image by Kerkez