Sisters In Christ Worldwide
STORIES OF FAITH
In the Storm
He was going to propose, he really was. My mind was racing as I looked at him and heard the beautiful words that he was saying.
“I really can’t imagine growing old with anyone else and frankly, I don’t want to…” Mark went on as he looked at me in the eyes.
I was speechless and for a minute, I went into panic. Did my hair look okay, was my makeup alright? Will I say yes? Oh wait, I have to say yes, I love him but how do I say yes, do I scream it out? Oh dear, I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening.
My mind was racing, heart beating fast and honestly I was excited. A part of me just wanted to keep quiet and let him complete the proposal. I wanted to get married to him; after all, he was the perfect man.
I remembered when I first met Mark; I definitely wasn’t looking for love at that point. I had just turned 32 and was still single. I had spent so many years dating the wrong men. Each time I thought that I had met ‘the one’, I was soon proven wrong. My heart had been broken so many times that I had completely given up on love. To be honest, after having “meet the right man” as a prayer item for so many years, I got to a point that I stopped praying about it. Maybe I wasn’t meant to fall in love and get married; there are women who have gone through life unmarried, right? Mother Teresa for example, she lived a beautiful, fulfilling life in service of God and humanity. Perhaps that was my path too.
However, one day, Mark walked in the Baptist church in Nairobi where I fellowshipped. I thought he looked good, well not that I was staring or anything during the service although I may have stolen a glance or two at time. He was also very much committed to church that I noticed that he hardly if ever missed a Sunday service. Soon, he joined the “Hands of Compassion’ ministry where I served and as they say, the rest is history. One year of dating had led to this magical moment in life, unfortunately I was utterly confused.
“If you accept to be my wife, I give you my word that I will spend the rest of my life doing my best to make you happy, he went on.
I looked at him, down on one knee, looking handsome in his dark suit. The restaurant looked beautiful with its orange dim lights, soft piano music playing in the background, it was my favorite restaurant. The man that I was madly in love with had just asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. So what was wrong with this picture?
“Mumbi, will you do me the honor of being my wife?”
I could feel the tears running down my cheeks as soon as he said that. Why was this happening to me when I finally had all that I ever wanted in life? I finally had a good man. I desperately wanted to say yes but I had to tell him the truth.
He looked at me bewildered, hurt and seemed lost for words. Those were not the words that he had expected to hear. To be frank, I had dreamed of my marriage proposal since I was a little girl and those were not the words I expected to utter at that moment either. He got back his on his seat as he continued to look at me in confusion.
“Why Mumbi, why don’t you want to marry me, I thought you loved me”, he uttered.
My heart broke into a million pieces once again. It really hurt to hear that he thought I didn’t love him.
“I love you more than anything in this world Mark but there is something that you don’t know”, I managed to say between tears.
“What could it possibly be?” he whispered as if half in thought. “Is it someone else?”
“Of course not, you are the only man in my life”, I quickly said, once again quite hurt by the implication that there possibly could be someone else.
I knew in my heart that I had to tell him the truth as to why I couldn’t marry him. However, for the millionth time, I asked God why I was going through such as storm. I had always been a good Christian, served faithfully in church, read my Bible and lead a life of example for others. Why me? My heart was heavy with so many unanswered questions but I knew that it was time to tackle Mark’s questions first.
“I am sick”, the sound of my own voice finally admitting that I was ill shocked me.
I hadn’t said the words out aloud since my appointment with the doctor three days ago. Just saying that made them so real. The finality of my illness hit me so hard like an ocean wave.
I hadn’t noticed him get out of his seat but soon enough, his arms were around me. He had always been so comforting and in his arms I had always found safety. I cried my heart out as he rocked me like a child. I cried for my unfulfilled dreams, for my lost chance at love, for the children that I would never have, for the future that had just been cut short by illness. I cried for Mark because I desperately wanted to spend my life loving him.
“Its okay babe, whatever it is, we will have it treated”, Mark always had the right words to say although this time his words didn’t offer much comfort.
“Its cancer Mark, there is nothing that can be done”
I know that I should have told him immediately we started dating but I had thought that I had beaten the cancer. It had been over a year since the last treatment which the doctors had all termed as being successful. I had gone through hormone therapy and the chemotherapy but recently, the cancer had come back. I was shocked and disappointed and felt as if God had abandoned me.
“I am so sorry Mumbi, but there are treatments you know”, Mark tried again.
“I have tried so much, I am now tired Mark”, I said again and actually meant it.
The doctor had suggested surgery. The cancer had not spread outside my uterus and so they had proposed its removal. I would never have children. I don’t know what was more devastating the possibility of dying or a life with no children.
The restaurant looked beautiful and the music was still lovely but at that moment, all was not well with our world well at least my world. We sat there talking and crying and sometimes doing both. Mark said a prayer at some point. It felt good to talk but at the same time, it was horrible that what was to be the happiest night of my life had turned out that way.
I really thought that he would see things my way and find a good healthy woman to marry. However, Mark surprised me by coming to the next hospital visit with me. He held my hand when the doctor said that I would have to get surgery and he comforted me when I broke down crying once again.
‘There will be no chance of having babies”, I thought that perhaps he had missed that point all together.
“There are other ways, you do know that there are millions of kids in the world with no family”, he added reassuringly.
I still wondered why God was allowing me to go through that kind of agony but I was still grateful that some good was coming from it. I still had Mark. Indeed I considered it a blessing that I met him when I did. In addition, my situation was turning out to be a blessing in disguise for others. I thought about adopting kids and raising them as our own.
“The surgery may not work”, I said again. I wanted him to know exactly what he was getting into.
“If the cancer spreads, I could die”
“We have to have faith Mumbi, we have to keep trusting God, please fight this with me”, that was Mark and now I remembered how his faith was one of the things that I had truly loved about him. Right now, while mine was being tested, his seemed to be stronger than ever.
“Do you think that God still has a purpose for my life?” I asked because I kept wondering why God would let me get ill.
“Psalms 138:8: the Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands” he quoted the verse for me.
Once again, I was in awe of his faith but I drew strength from the words that he had shared. I think deep down I knew that God had not deserted me. I was still His daughter and even in illness, He still was there with me. Just then another verse came to mind,
Philippians 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In January the next year, I had my surgery. It was quite nice waking up and finding Mark there with me. I spent more than two weeks in the hospital and he was still there for every single day. He visited with flowers, chocolates and sometimes stayed so late that the nurses had to request him to leave. He would even stay by my bedside when I was sleeping. Having no family around, it was really nice having Mark. Once again, I really thanked God for His favors upon me.
Soon, it was on Valentine’s Day and I was still recovering from my surgery. I couldn’t move much and was still in recovery. I was also on bed rest though I had started walking around a little bit. Mark and I had made plans to stay in and watch movies. It wasn’t the ideal Valentine’s Day plan but with my health, there was nothing much that I could do.
I woke up in the morning to find the house filled with the beautiful aroma of breakfast. Scrambled eggs had never smelled so good. There he was, my handsome boyfriend Mark, serving me breakfast like I was royalty. We had agreed not to buy each other gifts for the day. I couldn’t go shopping and so I didn’t want to feel bad about being unable to buy him anything.
However, when we got downstairs, I was shocked to find the room filled with flowers. These were flowers that were grown around our lane. There was a bouquet of roses, a small one of tulips and vase of daisies. Mark had drawn the curtains and places each bouquet near a window; this made the room feel warmer and look really beautiful. It simply was an amazing gesture. True to our promise, he hadn’t bought me anything but still had managed to make me feel like the most special woman in the world.
He set up a projector so that we could watch the movies in the den like it was on the big screen. He always thought of everything. We had planned on watching some Nicholas Sparks movies; I wanted to watch “The Notebook” since it was the most romantic movie ever. In addition, I heard also heard of “A walk to remember” which friends had told me fit our situation. Mark had also gotten a few lovely movies and so I was really excited about spending the day with him.
However, just as ‘The Notebook’ started, the screen went dark. I was so disappointed since I thought that the DVD was faulty. Suddenly, I saw my name projected on the screen. Second later, this was followed by the most beautiful words I could ever imagine.
“Will you marry me?”
I was surprised and yet overjoyed. I had no doubts on my mind. I was going to marry Mark so of course I said yes. Immediately I did, he wrapped me in his arms and spun me around as he kissed me. I heard people clapping and almost thought I had imagined it but there they were. My family, friends and worshippers from the Baptist church were all there. I was overjoyed to share the moment with all of them.
I was overjoyed that Mark had decided to go through the storm with me. Truly, God hadn’t abandoned me and I looked forward to starting my life with the man who had made me so happy.
And at that moment, all seemed well with the world. I didn’t know what the future held but I knew who Held it. Despite my illness, everything was working out well.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.