I’ve Been Exposed

Recently, I purchased a full-length mirror. I was walking in Wal-Mart making my way to the electronics department hoping their limited CD section carried a new praise and worship CD that I was anxious to get my hands on. While walking, I became victim to Wal-Mart’s product and merchandising display strategy, where they line the path to the back of the store with seasonal and high margin products that they hope customers cannot just pass up. I fell prey. While they didn’t have the CD I was looking for, I walked out with a white-framed full-length mirror and the hardware to hang it on the back of my bedroom door.

At least a week had passed, and I hadn’t hung the mirror on the back side of the door. It was just propped up against a wall. One day after taking a shower, I went into my bedroom to dry off and I looked at the mirror. I’m not sure what possessed me, but I turned, dropped the towel, and stood in front of the mirror . . . naked. I started from my head and began to examine my body. I ran my hands along my chemo port and across all of my scars, surgical incisions, dark spots, and scaly, rough, and callous skin that I have amassed over the last two and a half years. I saw the weight I have gained from weekly steroid injections designed to lessen the pain that comes from rounds of chemo and radiation. I felt the sores in my mouth due to thrush. I observed the fatigue in my eyes. I sensed it in my body. It was all staring back at me. I was exposed . . . and I felt ashamed.

Fear gripped me. Did everyone else see me this way? The dismal, troubled, at times despondent, cancer patient. I’m Tia W. Cooke! The one that can handle any situation, and without exception, be in control of my life. Or, at least, that’s how I wanted you to view me. Since May 2017 when I received my first cancer diagnosis, I have spent an excessive amount of time and gone to great lengths trying not to appear sick, and I have spent much time trying to “fix” my cancer. So many times after leaving my therapist’s office, I would try to walk as fast as I possibly could in front of her to obscure that my body and soul were tired. The person I have bared my soul to and knows the good, bad, and ugly of my life—I still wanted to keep that private. I wonder did I do a good job at concealing it, or did she like everyone else, see my nakedness . . . and exposure.

While staring at myself in the mirror and pinpointing everything that seemed amiss, there were also some things that were gloriously right. Here I am still standing. I’ve literally beat death several times, from a suicide attempt in 2015 to outliving my oncologists’ prognoses multiple times. However, as I stood looking at myself in the mirror, I pondered were there any other areas in my life that needed exposing.

It was then that I made the decision to go on a social media hiatus for the month of August. I needed to rid myself of all distractions and make myself available to the lover of my soul. It is incredible the amount of time that is wasted idly scrolling through social media. I didn’t hear about the latest pastor or church scandal or become acquainted with the sexual lives of the saints through leaked videos. I didn’t have to feel that I was off course or behind schedule based on the status updates of others that are often riddled with gross exaggeration. There was such a freedom I began to experience. But I knew there was more. The same way I was naked and exposed in front of the mirror, I wanted to be naked and exposed in front of God, and not be ashamed. How did He see me? What did He think of me? With so much extra time on my hand, it wasn’t long before He began to speak. He saw all of me; those areas I willingly share as well as those areas I desperately try to hide.

He sees me as lovable. Beautiful. Kind-hearted. Creative. Loving. Insightful. Empathetic. Compassionate. Strong. Loyal. Eclectic. A fighter. A leader. A world changer. But He also sees and exposes the areas for improvement. Can we honestly say that there are areas where we haven’t given our all or have allowed to lapse in favor of other things we deem more important? I had allowed my life to become so consumed with cancer that my prayer life had fallen off. I was so concerned with making enough money to pay the mounting medical bills that it affected my time with Him. In my time with Him last month, He never condemned me or made me feel shamed. Being naked before Him proved that His opinion was the only one that mattered.

In my desperate attempt to stay covered, I allowed myself to believe that to be stripped of everything I know and want myself to be strips me of the best parts of me. When in fact, the best parts of me are seen when I’m closest to the way God created me, naked and unashamed.

I’ve been exposed . . . and I’m so much better because of it.

Comments 11

  1. This is beautiful. You are a beautiful person inside and out. Continue to press to be a overcomer. Your praise from your testimony will encourage and help others. I love your life. Still praying for you.

  2. You really touched my heart and I am encouraged to hold on to my faith and believe God for renewed Life health and strength. I am so happy that through it all God Is still on the Throne and He’s keeping you. God bless you and I am praying for you. I always look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Beautiful❤ Thank you for sharing your testimony it truly touched my heart. Your testimony is the key to someones prison.

  4. Beautifully written. There are times when the testimony of others will cause us to examine ourselves, so glad I read this today. It was much needed!

  5. Dear sister, I am in tears reading your story. I see it and you as one of VICTORY over self, opinions of others, and a lack of communion with our Lord.
    It has hit me in the heart, to the point of REPENTANCE on my part for allowing my INTIMATE time with the Lord to be disrupted.
    As do others, I also have physical and emotional challenges, but as I expose my self before the Lord, He will strip of EVERYTHING in me that He disapproves of.

    Blessings to you.

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