A Girl and Her Worth
To state the obvious, I am a girl. A grown-up girl, but still a girl nonetheless. Volumes have been written on a girl’s worth and self-esteem. And I am happy to report that this girl, despite my fair share of less than desirable experiences growing up, seemed to have made it to adulthood in one piece. Perhaps not quite perfectly unscathed (I mean, wouldn’t that be impossible in a sin-filled world?!), but more unscathed than most when it came to understanding my worth.
Once I became a mother of three children, two of which happen to be girls, I tried to pass on all that I knew about how to know and protect one’s worth, the very value of our life seen through the prism of God and His Word. I even recall writing on my oldest daughter’s white board this quote that I had memorized from my adolescence, “Comparison is the root of all inferiority.” (And then taking an hour to explain what that meant to my 9 year old).
I thought I had done a decent job showing my girls what a healthy self-worth looked like for a woman who sought to please God. I tried to demonstrate this by my words, by my dress, and by my attitude towards myself and others. So when I was in the midst of consulting with physicians, asking them to do a radio-frequency ablation for inappropriate sinus tachycardia (IST) to essentially get my life back after years of fast heart rhythms making it difficult to perform mundane tasks like grocery shopping, treating my patients, and now even being outside from May until September, because any amount of heat or humidity was too much, even in Wisconsin, I was taken aback by the struggle.
I had just visited an electrophysiologist in Austin, Texas, who not only said no to performing the ablation for my case; he didn’t give my case a single second of consideration. I could tell he had his mind made up before he even entered the room and shook my hand. He pretended to go through my implanted device rhythm data, leaning over the machine read-out, nodding his head up and down, and murmuring, “Um-hmmm,” a couple of times under his breath. It’s like he was keeping a count in his head of how much time he had to stand there pretending, so I would believe he was actually considering my rhythm problem. One minute later I left the consult room quickly, blinking back tears, after he had told me he wouldn’t take my case since mine was not the worst rhythm that he would see that day,” and me uttering, “I didn’t know it was a contest,” in response.
I had walked out of the office so fast, I was quite short of breath when I reached the non-air conditioned parking garage just outside the office doors. Fearful I would pass out from my fast heart rhythm, I focused hard on paying the parking fee and getting to my car, moving more slowly and carefully to resist the lightheadedness that was coming on.
The drive back to Dallas north on I-35 was difficult to say the least. The weight of five other consults strung out over 7 months, multiplied by the heaviness of this appointment devoid of any serious consideration, culminated in some serious questions that I couldn’t answer. The tears would not stop coming, making it hard to see the road, as I asked God, why? Why was I not good enough? Why were other patients given the same exact life-changing treatment, but not me? It was as if I had cancer, and these doctors held the cure, but somehow, for some reason, I didn’t measure up. I wasn’t worth the effort. I was deemed unworthy. Their refusal to take my case felt like they were judging my contribution to this world through my children and my patients as so miniscule and meaningless, it wasn’t worth saving. But why?!
Later that evening, I listened to the song “Bulletproof” by Citizen Way on repeat for hours and hours while alone, lounging around in my sister’s pool. That’s what it took to re-build my spirit. It was there that I realized I had made the mistake of giving men (as in mankind) the keys to my soul. And like man was apt to do, he not only killed it, he stomped on it with delight. Only God could fill me back up with the realization that I was bought with a price, the price of the death of his only Son, and He not only created me, He saved me, and I was His child. I had given the power over my self-worth to men who are not worthy of such power. They can’t be trusted. And I had suffered the painful consequences.
Never again would I allow this to happen. Famous last words, easier said than done, but I learned that for every time someone clearly communicated to me that I was worthless, not deserving of his or her time and attention in my hour of need, God told me I was loved, forgiven, and protected as His precious daughter. He had a better plan for me; I simply had to believe it. And after that night in the pool, even though I had no evidence that His plan would actually be better, I relinquished control of my well-being and my fate. That’s what you call faith.
Jill Murphy is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and founder of MotionWorks Physical Therapy and an advocate for patient-centered care. A Christian mom of three, she survived a seven year journey through the broken American healthcare system in search for an answer to a heart arrhythmia that appeared during pregnancy. A stroke, open heart surgery for constrictive pericarditis, and several other surgeries later, Jill is telling her story of unfailing resilience in her upcoming book, Doctor Heal Thyself.
Having grown up on a dairy farm 40 minutes from Lambeau Field, Jill is an avid Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers fan, and is up for any activity with her three children, including walking, biking, throwing the football around, hiking in scenic locales, gardening, playing piano, singing, and coaching a middle school basketball game or two.