Failing My Mammogram and Pansy Prayers

I never arrived. But there I was. 

I don’t want to meet hardships. But when the insufferable hand is extended, I want to offer a firm handshake. Who offers a pansy handshake? But I may never get there.

I had a huge scare this last week. I received a notice after my mammogram saying I needed to come in for more testing. Diagnostic testing. Another mammogram. Ultrasound. 

My mother is a breast cancer survivor.

Panic overrode my peace. That simple. That difficult. 

I stomped my foot at myself. Shelli, you know you can trust God. 

My mind and my spirit know the right things. This is what I know–God has me covered. There is nothing that happens to me that isn’t allowed by Him. In the surrounding heat, God holds out His mighty hand and covers me. The hand continually covers me. But because we just can’t seem to stay in His intended protection, since the beginning of time, we get burned anyway. Things happen. Disease and bad things exist. If my 13-month old daughter had cancer, I’m certainly at risk. 

Fear wrestled with my faith. In my dreams. In my daydreams. I thought of every “what if” scenario. 

Stupid, stupid, stupid. 


Accusations. You were late for your mammogram. How can you remotely encourage others through hardships if you can’t handle this? 

I went in for my second mammogram and ultrasound. “We need a biopsy.”

I cried out to my dear friend from childhood. She’d been praying for me since I found out. I told her I’d been sick, dizzy, sleepless. Where was peace? 

She said, “No more pansy prayers from me, Shelli. I’m praying seriously for you.”

Much needed laughter penetrated my chest cavity. 

A week I wait for the biopsy. 

“This looks like a fibroadenoma type mass. Benign. Tiny. But we can’t be sure.” 

Hope springs alive in my heart. 

My gut feels pierced, my insides covered in pain. I so failed. Man’s word gives me hope. What about God’s word? Hope eternal.

I grab on to His hand that covers me. I peek up at Him. As He lifts me up, my feet flip-flop around barely touching the ground. “God, I trust you. I do. Forgive me. Help me. Let me be okay.” I pray on my face.

The Spirit within says to me, “Say it, Shelli.”

“I don’t know if I can. How did you say it, Lord Jesus? How?”

“Say it, Shelli.” I wrestle with the Spirit within.

I don’t know. “I don’t know that I want to give you approval. I don’t think I can.” I love my girls, I want to be a grandmother one day, and I’m not that tough. I toss and turn in bed. Tears soak my pillow.

“I don’t need your approval.”

I want to pound the pillow. Four mighty words seep out of my mind and heart and mouth, as I choose surrender instead. “Thy. Will. Be. Done.” Tears flood.

Just because you’re covered doesn’t mean you won’t feel the heat. Doesn’t mean you won’t get stings, scrapes, and bruises on your ankles. Doesn’t mean you won’t get beat by flying debris. Doesn’t mean you won’t get wind-burned. But you can believe–it’s a heap lot cooler in the shade of God’s hand. Bearable. You are covered, Shelli. Covered by the blood of the Lamb. 

But no more pansy prayers, Shelli. The way you beg for life … you beg for others.

The phone rang today. “The results are benign.” 

All that flip-flopping around for nothing. Pansy handshake. Faith over failure, Shelli. Not failed faith. How on earth will you survive when you get bad news? One day again, more than likely, you’ll receive bad news. That’s life. But it’s the how. You’ll survive on earth or in heaven because God has you covered. But it’s the how. 

You’ve arrived because of Jesus. But you haven’t arrived. How will you survive? In the now? How? Will you trust? It’s not really for nothing when your flop flips to the In God We Trust side.

No more pansy, Shelli.

“I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my handI who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” Isaiah 51:16

Thank you, Julie Garmon, for the reminder of this beautiful Scripture.

12 thoughts on “Failing My Mammogram and Pansy Prayers

  1. Ahhh, friend. That phone call IS a scary one. I received the one that said, “We need you to come in for another scan . . . ” a few years ago. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't fearful. I so appreciate your transparent honesty here, Shelli. And I'm so, so grateful everything came back benign.

    It seems like when those scary times come, that's when our faith, and our verbal “I'm yielded to Jesus” are put to the test. To come to the point of saying (and believing) “Thy Will Be Done?” That takes a whole lot of brave, and humility. And trust. God is working beauty in you, my friend!


  2. Oh, Jeanne … I thought I'd die before those words could come out. And I was hurt that I'd even have to say them. Lol. That the thought of saying it even came to my mind. But when it did, I knew I had to face it. Without sticking out my tongue or stomping my feet. You know? Oh my word. Ugh. Love you, Jeanne.


  3. Yes, the not-knowing part is so hard. The wait. Wait, wait, wait. Two weeks or so … from the initial letter. I think I waited longer than that. And my mom and cousin were struggling in the wait with me. It's so good to have others. My mother is a breast cancer survivor and my cousin works for a cancer center, nurse. I think the wait would have killed my cousin before me. 🙂 And to top it off … the results came in on a Thursday, and I didn't find out till Monday … my gyn doctor was really upset about that. She called the imaging center and had a few words with them. But … honestly, when I heard the word “benign” … I didn't care about anything else regarding the situation. And I won't be late on a mammogram again. I have kicked myself for miles over that. 🙂


  4. Ohhhhh, Shelli……this is beautiful. Real and honest. And I love the idea of pansy prayers. Me too!!! Sometimes that's how I pray.

    Exquisite~~~ And I'm so, so, so grateful.

    P.S. Your photography is stunning.


  5. Shelli, Praise God that you're fine. I've been in your exact situation not once but a handful and then some times. It's always nervewrecking. Yet, you've brought me a lot of comfort today (this very given day when something else has happened) by reminding me that nothing happens to me that isn't allowed by Him. Powerful! Very powerful!


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