March madness has ended. The NCAA tournament is over for another year. Today many will feel a little bit of sadness that the momentum of the unpredictable, drama infused and entertaining madness has concluded. Do any folks who sacrifice for the tournament ever say, “Yeah, that was so worth it?”
Like this past tournament, I had my own nerve-racking experience. My March madness began with an annual trip to the breast center for a mammogram. That’s what I do to celebrate my birthday each year. It’s weird, I know, but I never forget to schedule it. So I went, complained a whole bunch, and thought nothing of it. A few days later—on the day of my birthday—I received a letter. I stood in front of my house with junk mail under my right arm, bills held tightly under my chin and the letter in both hands. I read it and read it again and in that moment I said, “Okay Lord, I’m on the edge of hard. Stay with me.”
Several mammograms and three marked areas of calcifications later, I walked in to have a stereotactic biopsy. I didn’t feel scared or anxious. That only happened the evening I had to sit with my kids to explain why I kept going to the doctor. Fear has a way of enveloping a family. It can start with an innocent question that can lead straight to horror.
Furthermore, along with my biopsy came a toilet fiasco upstairs that caused water to drip down through the ceiling into my kitchen. Dry restoration folks soon showed up and instead of flowers, they brought me drying fans to serenade me into madness. The kitchen became a chaotic mess so we ate our take-out meals in my bedroom, which is hilarious since one of my pet peeves is when anyone eats in bed. That's just wrong!
What happened next? Apparently, I have sensitive skin. So bring on a rash caused by the adhesive in the steri-strips and don’t forget the beautiful rainbow bruise promising me endless pain.
In spite of all of this, and more—yes, there’s more—God managed to surprise me. For example, in the breast center I told a nurse that I didn’t need a Valium before my procedure. A woman waiting with me wanted to know why, so I told her. She later asked me to explain what I meant when I said, “I have the peace that surpasses all understanding.” My husband also shared with the painter why Jesus said, “It is finished” at the cross. The painter kept asking questions and my husband kept sharing the gospel. I also got to see the love of God through so many people who committed to pray for me through it all. My family rallied around me—my sisters, my kids and my husband—by constantly reminding me of God’s grace.
Consequently, I learned too, what grace does despite the unpredictable madness that this life brings. Grace reminds us of God’s promises. It makes us run to those who stay faithful to us and to Him. It pulls us away from the dark, suffocating places. And it helps us reciprocate grace to those who don’t know what to say.
My March madness has ended. I don’t have cancer and I can cook in my kitchen now. I don’t feel any sadness that this unpredictable, drama infused and entertaining experience has concluded. Yet, I’m looking back. I’m seeing God’s grace in all of it and I can honestly say, “Yeah, that was so worth it.”