I sit down hesitantly in the creamy gray pleather waiting area chair. I look around wondering, “Did anyone hear me come in?” “Maybe they thought the door ding was just the lady who passed me from the bathroom, arm taped with petite IV tubes hanging and a giant blue bandaid to hold them taught to her skin. I click my home screen on and scroll my phone, opening a few apps to try and distract my mind.
“Why do needles and the blood they draw out bother me so bad.” “Ok, ok, Pinterest I need a pleasant distraction here. Take my mind off this ozone treatment I chose to have today.” “Oh, why did I decide to try this…no, I can do this. I can do this.”
“Ashley?” I gaze up from my undistracting Pinterest recipe, “Oh yup, that’s me,” I mutter as I gather my book and bag and stand up a little clumsily. “Follow me and the nurse will be right with you. How are you today.” "I’m great,” I half-heartedly say through a smile that is trying to convince myself it’s real. “I don’t do so well with needles so I’m a little nervous,” I chime somewhat cheerfully as if my tone alone will lighten my nerves. “I’m sure you will be fine,” the brunette aide with athletic-like scrubs chuckles back at me.
I sit again in the consultation room and the nurse enters with a warm greeting and pleasant demeanor. She explains the process of ozone therapy and all its benefits. I’m reminded why I decided to give this needle-inclusive treatment a try. Inflammation continues to plague my under eyes, fingers, feet, and ankles and I can’t figure out why this keeps happening. Every morning the bags under my eyes blow up as if I was up all night slamming too many cosmos and having the time of my life.
That’s surely not the case and I am definitely not having the raging time of my life right now. “Mind over matter. I am strong, I’ve got this.” I keep trying to convince myself.
The nurse escorts me to the treatment area, a spot off the lobby with spa-like music playing softly and multiple cozy black recliners, one occupied by the lady I met coming from the bathroom. She’s all cozied in her lay-z-boy, laid back and feet up with a plaid fuzzy blanket. Her earbuds in, and relaxed watching a movie on her phone. She looks so comfy I feel like asking, “Can I get you some popcorn?” It doesn’t seem to phase her one bit that she is hooked up to an IV bag.
“Would you like the TV on?” The kind nurse asks and I politely decline. “I brought a book. Hopefully, it will be a good distraction.”
She prepares all the IV supplies and I banter with her as she readies my left inner elbow for the prick to come. “Look at those ropes, I barely need this tourniquet", she jokes.
I get settled in with my book and warm blanket and try to relax. The other lady opposite me makes this look so easy and almost enjoyable. I don’t know if I will get there but hopefully my book will take my mind off my present circumstances.
My eyes drift to the words Charles Martin pens. “How is the shed blood of a man two thousand years ago relevant here and now? What could it possibly have to do with you and me? And what is finished?” I’ve often thought of this question myself…what does the cross have to do with me today?
Some days I know the answer more than others. And some days I sit in awe of how Jesus shows up in just the right moments I so desperately need Him. The moments a sparkling rainbow or an unexpected friend request pop up out of the blue. These are the moments I know, as deep as my soul can feel, just how real Jesus is.
There are so many moments that may seem just ordinary to others, but they grab my soul and hold me so tightly I know He will never let me go. These moments are the ones where I grasp the cross and its meaning for me just a little more. When I think of what Jesus endured I can’t fathom the pain He faced when He shed His blood. I can’t imagine what kind of love it takes to willingly walk the Via Dolorosa. To be mocked and beaten, flesh ripped continuously from back and bones. I can’t imagine the jagged nails being pounded through my feet, my flesh. I can’t imagine what kind of suffering our servant savior experienced, all willingly.
Another nurse comes over and adjusts my arm and the IV. As she switches bags around I feel myself getting faint. Warmer, sweating, hot. “I don’t feel so good,” I whisper trying to maneuver the thin but suddenly too warm blanket from my lap. I sip the cold spring mountain bottle hoping it will cool me from the inside out. “Let me grab some cold washcloths and we will try and get you cooled down.” I feel my undershirt dampen and I wish I could pull my sweatshirt off but there is no way with this IV hooked to me.
“I feel sick, I might throw up.” The aide, I don’t even know her name, scatters around trying to grab supplies quickly. Another aide comes to my aid. “Are the cool washcloths helping? Would you like a Zophran for your nausea?”
I pull the plastic bag to my mouth and empty the contents of my stomach as the IV still empties blood from my vein. I wonder if I am interrupting my recliner neighbor’s relaxing afternoon. I surely was not having the same experience she was. I sit for a minute, head back and eyes closed trying to gather myself. My mind over matter and book distraction certainly are not working.
I can’t even handle this IV which I chose to do. How could Jesus choose the cross, knowing what He would go through? The suffering, the pain, the treatment from the the very people who praised Him days before. He chose this path with each and every one of them in mind and me too. What kind of strength that must take, can only come from the Father. No one could choose that path on their own strength.
I feel my body begin to cool. The nausea and dizziness start to fade a little. “You're almost done and your color is looking a little better.” As the IV treatment finishes I think of the words Jesus whispered as He breathed His last. “It is finished.”
These words mean everything to me in this moment and every moment. I dream of the day, Jesus will reach out His hand and I will see the nail scars for myself. And I dream of the day this body will no longer be aching or affected by the troubles of this world. Until then, I will never stop seeking truth and growing closer to Him in the perfectly placed moments He shows up for me.
I long to know more, understand more like wiser followers who have walked before me in this calling to seek Him through writing. Authors like Charles Martin who hope to help all who question, understand just a little more. In books like “It Is Finished," where Martin takes us on the journey from the courthouse to the cross, from Eden to eternity. His thought-provoking questions tied with rich scripture bring me deeper than I could wander on my own.
The moment maybe wasn’t ideal. Then again, my reading of Jesus’ experience of His chosen bloodshed during my not-even-similar moment, brought me to a place of better understanding of why my humanness needs His undeniable strength in unexpected and less-than-desirable situations.
If you are a wanderer or a wonderer, a skeptic, or on the fence, let Charles Martin lead you through a 40-day pilgrimage to find out just what the cross has to do with you too. "It is Finished," may take on a whole new meaning for you too.