Updated: Sep 4, 2022
I’ll be the first to admit that I LOVE all things beautiful: beautiful decor, beautiful places, beautiful clothes, beautiful people. I’m attracted to BEAUTY, and I love surrounding myself with beautiful things. I believe we all do. As the saying goes, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. However, beauty can be illusive. Oftentimes, it’s a veil hiding the intangibles that really matter. Intangibles like self-confidence, purpose, perseverance, vision, and charity.
Last year around this time, I decided to elevate several areas of my life. My way of coping with the pandemic was to focus on improving what was within my control, and aligned with God’s will for me – my health and wellness, and my growing image coaching business. I became consistent with my workouts, nutrition, and self-care. I was doing all the things I felt led to do, to move the needle in these areas. I even invested in an elite coaching program, and updated my business branding with a new photoshoot.
After the photoshoot, my husband commented on my right eye asking me if I had hurt it somehow, as it appeared swollen or bigger than the other one. I observed what he was saying but dismissed it, as nothing had happened to my eye, and I wasn’t in any pain. A month or so later, my eyes started feeling tired each afternoon, however I attributed it to working long hours in front of the computer. To be on the safe side, I attempted to make an eye appointment, but all the doctors were booked through the end of the year, and the first available one was on January 18, 2021.
When the day finally came, since nothing traumatic had changed in my eyesight, and I wasn't experiencing any pain, I expected to be in and out with some recommendations on how to minimize strain from the computer. However, what I received was a referral to have a CT scan. The ophthalmologist advised he saw something abnormal in my right eye and surprising to me, I failed all of the reading tests on this eye.
The CT scan was the following week, and when the results came back, I was advised I had 3 meningeal tumors in my brain.
I was referred out to a neuro-ophthalmologist at Emory University Medical Center, and a follow-up MRI on Valentine’s Day. Later that week I met with one of the top neurosurgeons to review the MRI results and discuss treatment options. He advised me that the MRI identified 4 tumors, and that the vision issue with my right eye was due to one of the tumors being very close, if not sitting on my optic nerve. He was fairly certain these tumors were benign based on his experience, however they would biopsy the one being removed to confirm.
I had brain surgery to remove the tumor affecting my right eye vision on March 4, 2021.
I am now 6 months post-op. I have had a strong and vibrant recovery. I praise God for that. God’s faithfulness, provision and covering overwhelm me. I lack NOTHING. But can I be vulnerable and honest? Every intangible I named above was challenged. You see I’ve always had what I consider to be a “normal” life - filled with obstacles and barriers to overcome, but nothing on this level. And now that this is a part of my story, I can assure you that God will indeed give us Beauty for Ashes in hard seasons.
Isaiah 61:3 NIV
and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Having an incision and now scar, span the perimeter of my hairline has challenged my self-confidence. I didn’t know if I would feel confident enough to show up in person, on the social media platforms, or find ways to style my hair that make me feel presentable and pretty? But I have done it.
While God has gifted me to do a number of things, I know my purpose is to impart confidence to women through my image coaching business. It’s more than closets, clothes, and accessories; It’s understanding and having an appreciation that we are truly made in His image and there’s nothing more beautiful than that.
One event that remains vivid in my memory is when the doctors gathered around my bed the evening after my surgery with the biggest smiles on their faces because I was so alert, communicating well, and in really good spirits. In spite of the fear, I made up my mind before surgery that I would make it through this better than I was before. Perseverance is a key to success.
I elected to have surgery to preserve my natural vision. What I had no idea of was that God would then flood me with His vision for many things in my life. I am obedient now more than ever. When he shows me, speaks to me, or gives me inspiration - I move- being led by the spirt is what I live for now.
Charity and being charitable are qualities that I learned about early in life. I learned to give with the understanding that God cannot bless a closed hand. Nowadays, I make it a priority to give – my time, my talent, and my resources, especially to my first ministry, my family, because I truly believe YOU CAN'T OUT GIVE GOD.
I'm still learning and growing... I still love beautiful things, but one thing I know for sure is that it’s beyond beauty.
Image by Courtney