“Okay, I’ll do it tomorrow! Just leave me alone!” With that proclamation, I slammed down the Sunday paper (if a paper can be slammed☺), and my husband looked up, puzzled at my consternation, since he had not, to his knowledge, asked me to do anything. I glared at him, innocent bystander though he was and said, “Schedule a mammogram! I’m just trying to skim the paper and every page I turn tells me why and when I must get a mammogram. And besides, I promised Kelly I’d do it.”
The last time I had a mammogram, which was the first time I ever had one, at the age of 45 (I know – I was five years late!), the tech took forever to return to the room, and when she did, she brought the doctor with her. It was quickly obvious this was not the routine response.
Indeed, within an hour, this pretty petite doctor was sticking a needle that appeared to be almost as long as her arm in my breast to determine if I had non-invasive breast cancer. My husband and I sweated it out for the next 24 hours, until the doctor called and uttered that blessed word anyone with a tumor longs to hear: BENIGN.
I haven’t been back for my routine mammogram since. It’s been two years. Yesterday, I told a friend this story as we were discussing breast cancer awareness month, and I threw my head down on the table and whined, “I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go.” (Yes, I tend toward the dramatic!) She said simply and kindly, “You’re acting like a two-year-old. I’ll call you next week to make sure you scheduled it.”
It’s pretty obvious why I don’t want to go, but I think I should. And not just because it’s breast cancer awareness month, and every upstanding American woman over 40 is supposed to save her life by scheduling her mammogram. I think it just may be a worshipful response to God my Creator. Today in church, the pastor used the text from I Corinthians 6 that declares our bodies to be “temples of the Holy Spirit.” Eugene Peterson translates, “Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!”
My logic could be off, but I think that part of what it means to honor God with the body He has given us is to take good care of it. For me, that likely means I should have a simple diagnostic test that could reveal a problem if it is there and give me a great head start on a cure. For some people, it means lay off the cookies, for others, it means take a walk around the block a few days a week, and for still others it means quit running so many miles your knees hurt (my orthopedic husband will thank all of you marathoners who stop him in the grocery store for this last one!).
For most of us, we’ll need community encouraging us to do (or not do) the things that would honor our bodies. I apparently won’t schedule a mammogram without a kind, strong friend to hold me accountable; some people won’t walk around the block unless they have a buddy to go with them. Perhaps you need to ask someone to help you with this struggle, or perhaps there is someone you know you could help.
But even having community won’t be enough. What I really need is the gospel to transform my heart’s attitude. It gets back to the essential question raised by the Heidelberg Qu. 1. To whom do I belong? Most of the time, I prefer to think that I belong to myself and I can therefore choose what to do with my body. The H.C. tells us our comfort is that in life and in death, in body and soul, we belong unto our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. I think that means I need to let go of my heart’s demand to do things my own way in my own time, even and especially where it concerns my body.
I wrote this blog in a moment of conviction Sunday night. It’s Monday at 6:18. Someone ask me this afternoon if I scheduled my mammogram today.
This is a murky area. Please don’t hear what I’m NOT saying. Not every woman over 40 needs to schedule a mammogram today (really, I’m not working for the breast cancer awareness folks!:) Some people may deal with fears about body, life, and death by having TOO MANY diagnostic tests. I’d love to hear what you think about what it means to honor the body God has given you.