It had been years since I had been to an OB appointment. After the birth of my second child and my husband’s gracious and sacrificial act of permanent birth control assurance, I had no trouble finding ample excuses for years of why I couldn’t go.
Somehow this became the topic of conversation among a group of female friends all sitting at the same table. As I jested at how long it had been since I had been, the dear friend in front of me countered with a stern look containing both gentle disapproval and genuine concern. She “encouraged” me, on no uncertain terms, to call her the following week with the name of the doctor and appointment time at which they would be seeing me. She shared of someone important in her life whose life had been saved due to the early detection of cervical cancer as a result of a pap smear. In all of my taking care of others, she assured me, it was necessary that I take care of myself.
I can’t imagine that a Pap smear falls among the “top ten favorites” of any female’s list of life. Due to a childhood filled with traumatic sexual abuse however, I seem to struggle more than most when it comes to this unpleasant yet admittedly necessary task. I did make the appointment but only penciled it in on my calendar and commenced contemplating my options. Briefly, just briefly, I thought that perhaps I could just lie about it to my well meaning friend… I mean after all she wasn’t coming with me. Feeling sick guilty at just the thought, I scratched that option off of my list. I could accidentally forget…I mean, I do keep a very busy schedule. I knew however that that excuse would fly about as well as… well…something that doesn’t. I would only be postponing the inevitable. Deep down inside my friends’ words held much value to me because, like it or not, I knew that they were filled with truth.
The day arrived. Dread was waiting beside my bed staring me in the face as I woke up. Before my feet hit the floor, my mind cycled through old familiar emotions of sadness, anger, self-pity… frustration that the choices of others still had the ability to impact my life as they did.
I cried all the way to the office. It was the normal routine. I was thankful that the doctor came in to meet me for the first time before I was required to remove all of my clothing, drape the ugly, drab green, too thin hospital gown over myself and lay flat on the uncomfortable examining table with my feet in the stirrups. As I shared my history with her the tears began again and refused to stop. Exposed, vulnerable, and uncomfortable only skim the surface of the depth of my feelings. The doctor was gentle, kind and understanding. I was most thankful when at the conclusion of the exam she asked me if I would like to slip out of the back door of the office so I wouldn’t have to deal with a waiting room full of people. I’m quite certain that, at that moment, she could not have offered me a more gracious gift.
Good friends are the friends that are willing to speak truth, even the hardest of truth, in love. They are the ones that are willing to bear the brunt of your response to truth for the sake of your well-being. These are the kind of friends we should be most thankful for. These are the kind of friends we should strive to be.
Father, help me to always speak the truth in love to others.