Looking Back in the Mirror

Shared by Missy Fischer

Alone and Afraid

I stared into a mirror smudged full of lipstick kisses and mascara blots, looking at the new me. The woman I had been, so sure of her image and beauty, suddenly seemed shockingly distant. Sharp, pointed strands of blonde hair landed alongside my jaw as I tried to apply extra mascara to make up for my lost sense of self. I sat. And stared. Thousands of thoughts whirled through my brain as I tried to make sense of this new life. Suddenly so alone and terribly afraid, I found myself unable to recognize who I was anymore. I sat cross-legged, with my knobby knees knocking against the walls of my loft bedroom. I was surrounded—crowded by my own insecurities. Taunting thoughts of what I would look like bald and who would love me ran through my mind continuously, like a carousel.

Then there was the day losing my hair finally happened. I tugged on my short blonde strands with the fine plastic teeth of my brush, as pieces of my security started to slip away. Realizing what was happening, the pounding in my chest was audible and tears trickled down my cheeks. This is it, I thought. This is the moment I have been preparing for.

Missy, having lost her hair during cancer treatments

Missy, having lost her hair during cancer treatments

No End in Sight

I was a woman who had always been searching for the person to fill the void of my "not enough-ness." After the diagnosis of breast cancer, I found myself unwillingly facing my fear of who could fit such a role. Like a young girl jumping as the rope hit the cement, I too, found myself repeatedly seeking the fleeting feelings of love. The reality of an approaching divorce engulfed my mind. I thought, “Life is too short to be married to the wrong person.” A heightened awareness of my mortality reminded me that every decision I made had a price. With a renewed desire to live life to its fullest, my diagnosis gave me the courage to finally leave my husband.

Although distracted and lost, I often found myself back at that lipstick-smudged mirror. A now very noticeably round head containing memories of a love once known stared back at me to remind me of this new life, now alone. Functioning became almost impossible as I struggled to maintain a somewhat normal existence. Broken and bleeding, my heart sobbed for the loss of my beauty, my family, and my dreams. The reality of living with my decisions often came over me like a tidal wave. As a woman who had spent her entire life searching for someone to love her, it appeared comical that I would choose to divorce the only man who had ever loved me. I found myself in a dark and winding valley with no end in sight. Not only did I question my mortality, but I questioned my purpose here on earth. I was completely blinded by my circumstances.

Filling the Void

But I learned a lot about life during this awful time. I learned that trials don't allow us to see what lies on the other side of the horizon. Trials have a way of tricking us into thinking we are hopeless and alone, useless and meaningless. God, in His sovereignty, saw me in my desperation. God saw my need for love, and He met me right where I was. In those moments of not knowing the Lord, I now see where He was merciful and graceful beyond my sin. His desire to find me in my suffering rose above my circumstance. God knew I had too much pride to see Him clearly, and He allowed my trial for a greater good: my salvation.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves staring at our circumstances head-on. We find it hard to imagine anything promising or good because we don't feel like life is good in suffering. Deep down in our hearts, we find ourselves saying, “Where were you, God? Why have you allowed me this pain and anguish? Don't all things work together for my good?”

The Bible tells us to set our hope on the revelation of Jesus Christ. It doesn't promise us an easy life. Quite the contrary: it tells us that suffering is part of our existence as believers in Jesus Christ. When we find ourselves looking at our circumstances directly, we first have to ask ourselves if we really believe that all things work together for our good. For those of us who are Christians, we talk about it on Sunday in church. But do we actually believe God cares about us the way He says He does?

The second thing we need to ask ourselves is: “What is God trying to teach me?” God cares more about our hearts than He does our circumstance. He uses our circumstance to pursue our hearts, to fill us with the only joy that is everlasting. He allows our trial because He is preparing us for the eternal glory that will be revealed!

If I had not walked through cancer, I would never have been humbled enough to need a Savior. If I had not lost my hair, I would not have sought to fill the void of love that only Jesus can fulfill. If I had not walked through the trial of my diagnosis, I would not have appreciated the grace of being restored and renewed.

Trust in the Lord that something beautiful waits on the other side of your horizon. Even if you stand in the deepest valley with no inclination that things will get better, seek His love for you in that trial. Remember, too, that we walk by faith and not by sight.

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