An Honest Moment


Honest moment Mackenzie Madsen Unga

I’ve been having a hard time feeling peaceful lately. This burning weight on my chest I can’t seem to shake. Anxiety? Fear? Fatigue? I don’t know. I can’t seem to put my finger on it, but it keeps me up at night and makes it hard to take naps and read books and focus when I’m driving in the car and Henry’s telling me stories (okay maybe that last one was always a struggle).

I don’t know if anyone can relate, but you know how you do that thing where you try to “erase” the possible causes to see if you feel better? Well I tried it…see below:

I wipe out lung disease and that helps a little. But it’s not the culprit.

I wipe out how I’m still not on the lung transplant list, even though I’ve been told since March that it will be the next week and the next week and the next week.

I wipe out how some of the smartest doctor’s in the country don’t know what I have or how to fix me.

I wipe out the tests I have to do when really all I want to do is travel the world.

I wipe out relationships, one by one, to see if any one of those need addressing.

I wipe out boundaries I need to create and expectations I put on the life I think I should have.

I wipe out past mistakes, guilt I feel for things I’ve done in my life, or haven’t done, or should do and don’t.

I wipe out how I should be eating better or how I can’t exercise, or how my self esteem seems to be sinking as the number on the scale seems to be growing.

I wipe out how I obsess about things and how sometimes I literally feel like a crazy person and I need 15 people to validate every single decision I make.

I wipe out how I worry that I’m too clingy to my husband cuz I maybe expect him to fill in the holes that I feel inside myself.

I wipe out how I don’t read my scriptures enough and I don’t pray enough and how I have so much to fix and how I’m really not perfect.

And I wipe out how people think I’m brave and inspiring when really I feel like I’m just surviving.

And here I am. Stripped down. Just me…sitting in a big fat pile of worries.

I feel like, as one of my favorite writers put it, “I have a lot of faith and a lot of fear a lot of the time.” Why all these worries? I think I can pin it on this one thing. I feel like I’ve been feeding this hungry idea that once I get my new pair of lungs , then my life will begin and I’ll feel so much better overall. I’ll finally be able to take charge of my health, learn how to cook healthy and get in the best shape of my life. I’ll finally be able to travel and see the world. I’ll figure out how to be a great wife, and serve my husband and I’ll finally be able to start my family. I’ll finally be able to work on that job or project and I’ll have a lot more energy.  I’ll finally be able to dream and start and live and….what am I even saying?


Honest moment Mackenzie Madsen Unga

THIS is my life. Right now. Every week that I don’t have new lungs, is another week in this reality and it’s passing me by. Come on, Mackenzie…it’s time you redefine yourself and life and okay-ness.

This last week Henry’s past Bishop, who is now a mission president in the San Jose area, invited the both of us to meet up at a religion institute class. Not being able to recall the last time we’d been to an institute class, we jumped at the chance. The lesson was on Christ’s Resurrection and there was a question that the teacher posed.

“How does knowing about Christ’s resurrection change the way you live?”

I felt this question hit me in my gut. Am I living differently because of what He did? Do I understand the significance? What does it mean to me….beautiful, crazy, messed up, me? It means this life is not the end. It means God loves me. It means He sees who I am capable of becoming and what I need to get there. It means that lung disease does not define me. I am more than this trial. My life is more than this moment.

We humans (aka me) are too hard on ourselves. I, for example, can often feel the devil creepin’ in on my thoughts…lung disease or not, he knows how to creep in. And he feeds me all these lies about myself and my journey and my self worth and about people’s love and God’s love. But that’s just what they are…lies. I’m learning that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. In other words…stop being complacent, Mackenzie! I’m learning (once again) that it’s OK to start over and begin again and again and again. I also think we humans (aka me) really hate discomfort (otherwise known as trials). We look for ways or a vice out of that discomfort or we think that life will be better once we’re over whatever discomfort we’re experiencing. But what I’m learning is that we can’t skimp out. The only way out is through and the highs are as much a part of this life as the lows (I sound like Tony Robbins). Why do I keep forgetting that?

Bottom line: Christ conquered death. Knowing that changes everything! I mean…BOOM! Mic drop! I can shed the shackles of everyday cares and worries. I can begin again….now. RIGHT NOW! I can lay my burdens, cares, concerns, worries, and fears at the feet of the Savior and I can turn to Him for peace.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

11 Responses
  • Lisa Bennett
    August 8, 2016

    Amen. If you ever need a reminder, I’m pretty good at saying the hard stuff. Love to you. Prayers up every day that you can be your best self every moment and rbound quickly when you slip. You are beautiful, but it’s your insides I’ve always liked most.

  • David Gonzales
    August 8, 2016

    Mackenzie, what a brilliant writing! You express yourself eloquently. I am always reminding myself that time is ever-flowing and if I don’t take advantage of the opportunities available time will pass me by. I can identify with your feeling that a certain event will mean a new start. I was born with a cleft lip and palate. Growing up, the work on the palate caused a severe underbite that I lived with into college. I had felt that after “the surgery” my life would change. I didn’t think about the mental effect it would continue to have on my self esteem, how I still would need a boost in confidence because even though things have changed, my mind’s eye still saw the underbite. Carpe Diem Maxkenzie, live your life and be happy!

  • Stephanie L
    August 8, 2016

    Good heavens, I needed to read this today. Isn’t in crazy how much we get in our own ways? You are just the greatest! Thanks for being so raw and honest. I’ve loved following yours and Henry’s sweet journey. My thoughts and prayers are with you more than you know.

  • David Rosh
    August 8, 2016

    Hello Mackenzie, I love reading your blog. I had a double lung transplant at UCSF in 2012. Yes the dreaded waiting list, waiting for THE CALL. I will never forget the night of October 28th when my phone rang and it was Kerry telling me they had lungs for me.
    I felt excitement, fear, anxiety as my wife Tina and I made the 2hr drive to UCSF. The time is here OMG.
    We checked in and what I dreamed about was going to happen !! So you can see how reading you’re blog warms my heart, because you will get that CALL, and the gift of life.
    More later on my surgery, and recovery .
    David Rosh

  • Janet
    August 8, 2016

    Mackenzie, these are true words. No matter what is happening in our lives we often put ourselves on hold until we think our circumstances are closer to the dream we want to live. I have clear memories of you as a little girl jumping on our trampoline…lost in the present, living each moment for what it was right then. Your soul loves life and now that you are more aware than your child self, I am glad the Lord makes it possible for you to experience joy in the present!

  • Cory [myheartburning]
    August 9, 2016

    Love this so much.

  • geri e.
    August 11, 2016

    Yes! you’ve hit the nail right on the head.
    And I’m so sorry it’s hit ya like this… this is such hard part.

    People said, “I don’t know how you guys do it. You’re amazing.” I would feel guilty too, it didn’t feel like we were doing anything amazing. We were going to the clinic and the hospital and prehab and rehab and waiting and feeling overwhelmed and unsure… and not being amazing.
    “We just do what we have to do. And nothing else!” is what I would always say back. And we’d all laugh a little at the cute ‘joke’. And I would actually mean it 100%.

    Yes. Prayer and scripture and meditation are very important. But honestly, who can do this alllllll day?

    So here’s a short list of diversions we have come up with, in case anything might float your boat:

    Puzzles? Ellen or Jimmy Fallen or Gilmore Girls? Driving with the windows down? (feeling a rush of air on your face) Adult coloring books? that’s a thing. Yoga?… but like super not intense yoga? Learn modern calligraphy? (or watch insta or youtube videos of people doing modern calligraphy… this is maybe even better? haha)

    Music? (there’s all sorts of calming mood playlists on Spotify, but I’m sending you a Rob Gardner album a sweet friend gave to me, it’s with the London Symphony Orchestra. Turn it up, WAY up, and try to immerse your whole self into it and the beautiful truths in the songs… some are more schmaltzy than others, just skip over most of the middle tracks;)

    Guided Meditation? (don’t hate… Belleruth Naparstek is a true gem. I have loved her Healing Trauma, Panic Attacks, and Depression meditations. Go to and be sure to listen to the samples before purchase, to be sure you like the pace and voice)

    All fingers and toes crossed you are listed soon!
    Love you guys!!

    ♥︎ g

  • geri e.
    August 11, 2016

    Oh! So I should have read the following post… yay for Yoga and awesome people! haha

  • Janine Heatley
    August 14, 2016

    It’s no coincidence that your blog matches so well with our sermon today; it’s God’s way of reinforcing it in my life. Jesus dying for me means I don’t have to be perfect but I always have to try again to follow God’s will. Do not give up hope. Laying my problems on the alter and NOT taking them back is something I continue to struggle with. Your way of “wiping it out” is very similar to what I’m always trying to do. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your inspirational attitude. I will definitely be keeping you, your husband and your family in my prayers!

  • Cindy Bannon
    August 15, 2016

    Mackenzie ,
    I’m praying you are listed shortly . My brother had a double lung transplant in Sept 2013. He had a rare newly named immune system condition. He was patient number 1 for an experimental Stem cell transplant to fix his immune system in 2009 . His lungs took the brunt of the damage requiring transplant.He lived at NIH waiting for the call for 6 months. He was reading , tying flies, building Lego models and exercising everyday. We would make the 3 hr drive every weekend bringing a picnic or talking him shopping for camping and hiking gear he planned on using.This last June he and his fiancé had a breath taking baby boy. Dream the dreams. We can not even guess or pretend to know the gifts God has for us in the future for us.
    Don’t give up before the miracle ❤️

  • Cassandra Walton Opp
    August 20, 2016

    My son lost his battle with PVOD May 12th 2010 he was 17 . We found out only hours before that he had this disease I still have MANY QUESTIONS and I would love for us to talk please “friend” me on Facebook and we can go from there. THANKS Cassandra Walton Opp

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