How not to be anxious

I’ve been here before. I recognize these Naugahyde chairs, the clink of glass wheeling past on carts, the overhead speaker announcing “Code Blue” in Room 617.


It’s 9:25am.

I kiss my husband good-bye in the pre-op area where he’ll wait for the surgery to remove his prostate and consequently the cancer.

It’s 1:04pm.

Still waiting for the call that will allow me to see my husband after a successful surgery. Only … I’ve waited for that call before. In another hospital. At another time. And it didn’t happen as I’d hoped.

I try not to let my mind go there.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6

It’s 3:35pm.

A call from someone on the team. They’re still in surgery. My head knows the odds are in our favor. But in my heart, there is disquiet.

Waiting isn’t my strong suite. Perhaps because I have a vivid imagination. And while I’m waiting, I’m imagining why it’s taking so long.

What if this man I have grown to love so much has cancer that’s already spread outside the prostate, like my first husband’s cancer? Is that why it’s taking so long?

Be anxious for nothing …


The view from hospital hill (photo: Marlys)

It’s 4:32pm.

The surgeon called. The procedure went well, howbeit longer than normal. Dan will be transferred by ambulance to the lower campus on the waterfront because the main hospital is full.

I find our car in the maze that makes up the Oregon Health Sciences University campus, and drive through 5:00pm traffic down hospital hill to find another underground parking spot by the river.


View from the lower campus (photo: Marlys)

It’s 5:24pm.

A nurse calls. The ambulance to transport my husband won’t be available until 7:00.

I locate a vending machine, but the evil machine steals my $1.50. All I wanted for dinner was one small bag of pretzels.

I turn away, feeling emotional. They’re right there, hovering near my lower eyelids, waiting to spill over. For no reason.

Be anxious for nothing …

It’s 7:20pm.

Dan and I are finally reunited. I look deep into my husband’s eyes. There are nurses bustling about his bed, getting him settled. Oh, how I missed him this long day. Oh, how my mind went to uncertain places as the hours lengthened.

If I had known the day would unfold as it did, I would have been better prepared. Most importantly, I would have looked for opportunity to do random kindness.

So why didn’t I? It’s not as if I needed to know in advance it would be a ten-hour wait. Oh, sure, I let people go on the elevators ahead of me, and I held the door a couple of times with a smile, and I thanked every medical person who called.

I was nice. I was polite.

But that’s not the same as looking for ways to be a blessing to others in hard places. Hard, because they’re ill. Or because a loved one is fighting a life-threatening condition. Or because they’re a single mom scrubbing medical building floors after the place empties out and they’re barely making ends meet and their teen-aged son is just beginning to get into trouble with the law.

What if, while we’re waiting for something to happen—the graduation, the job promotion, the marriage proposal, the healing—we could look outward to see if there are needs we’re capable of meeting, words of encouragement we’re capable of speaking, meals or Chai tea or flowers we’re capable of delivering?

Because every phone call, every delivery, every card that arrives in the mail says this: “I’m thinking about you. I may be in a hard place myself, but I’m choosing to focus on you and what you’re going through. Here’s something from my heart to let you know I care about you.”

It’s 9:30am Day Two of recovery.

Our first full day at home and Dan just announced that he’s bored. (Sigh. This is going to be a long recovery.)

So I did what most good wives would do—I made Chai tea and beat him in a game of dominoes.


Photo: Marlys (yes, we’re still living in the 5th wheel trailer … but the house is almost done!)


Is your life a story worth telling?


Is this Plan B … or Part Two of Plan A?


  1. Patti Ann Ridgway

    Prayers for peace and healing for Dan. We are always blessed to be a blessing.

  2. So sorry for this deja vu for you Marlys, but I’m glad you’re sharing your experience here. So many others are facing these trials–my sis just went through this w/her husband . . . not an easy road, and you shine light on the hope we have.

  3. Pat

    My thoughts have been with the Johnson families…May Dan enjoy REST while he recovers.

  4. Hidie Baker

    Prayers of healing for Dan and prayers of strength for you.

  5. Mary Kittelson

    Marlys, My heart goes out to you and Dan. It’s wonderful that you have His word to comfort you and relieve some of your anxiety, especially Phil. 4:6. Carl and I will keep you in our prayers for a smooth and complete recovery. Good job on the dominoes!

  6. Allison McCormick

    You are brave and God is so very very good. Thank you for the encouragement to continue to be present and thoughtful in the midst of hard challenging circumstances.

  7. Marlys, I love the “scowl” on Dan’s face after you beat him at Dominoes. A very good sign! I’ve been in Portland all week and wish I’d known so I could have maybe been a blessing to you as you waited. We could have ganged up against that evil vending machine!

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