I remember the day so well. It was early February 1999, and Mulan had just been released to VHS. My two-year-old daughter and I decided to snuggle on the couch that afternoon and watch this long awaited video together. I was about five months pregnant at the time, and afternoon couch snuggles were like manna from heaven to me!
The phone rang. The fact that I had a tumor removed a few days before never entered my mind. It was a “pregnancy tumor” they told me, due to all the excess growth hormones. What I was about to hear over the phone knocked me for a loop.
I kindly thanked the doctor, who apologized profusely for giving me this information in such an impersonal way. She was filling in for my own doctor, who was, ironically, in Disney World at the time. Stunned, and not really knowing how to absorb this information, I wandered back to the couch to continue our movie. I snuggled a little closer to my toddler and placed my hand on my belly, worry about my unborn child slowly creeping in. I couldn’t abandon my children.
It was at this moment that a line from Mulan rested on my ears.
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”
It took many months before I sincerely valued that line. My daughter thrived despite surgery, doctor visits every week, and a stressed out mama. She and prayer are what kept me going and didn’t let me give up.
Today, I regularly say that cancer is the best-worst thing to ever happen to me. I certainly don’t want to live through it again, but it gave me a new appreciation for life. It showed me how much I am loved and prayed for. It taught me that I am strong and that faith truly can move mountains. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world now.
Out of the adversity, grew a baby girl. She was born a few weeks early, but otherwise perfect. She couldn’t have been any more rare and beautiful even if she hadn’t had a sick mommy. Twelve years ago this week, a flower budded, saved her mother’s life, and today she blooms with a heart not unlike Mulan’s. A passion lies within her to save animals, the earth, and to bring honor to her family.
The adversity we face is what shapes us. Every challenge that enters our lives is one more step, one more lesson learned. Those challenges mold us into wise, experienced people with depth and appreciation. It isn’t easy, but if we embrace those challenges and bloom where we are planted, extracting all the gifts that are hidden in the complexities, it causes us to become who we are meant to be…rare and unique.
It makes us beautiful.