It has been a little over two months since my third surgery within the year. My enemy, cancer, has shown up in four tumors within three organs of my body. As I wrote a few posts ago, there are many days where I am completely wiped out. I have to talk and will myself to get out of bed to do things that most of us consider a “normal” day. I have learned a lot about myself and have had some epiphanies in this last recovery.
First, I am thankful that even though I didn’t know what was ahead, that God knew. God, in His infinite wisdom and power KNEW that I needed to resign from my work. There is just no way that I could be doing work in youth ministry at this point in time. As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t have the energy and stamina that I used to. I know that I am getting stronger every day, but it takes time and it takes work. And now, just as I am getting some momentum back, I will be starting my newest chemotherapy regimen in a few short weeks. Though it is designed to heal me, it breaks down a body; it wipes out the bad cancer cells, but drains my energy.
Second, I am thankful for how God is teaching me through this difficult circumstance. I don’t want that to sound like a spiritual cliche, but God has me in a place where I am thirsting daily for His Word. I can’t get enough of my time in the Bible and the comfort and strength it gives me. Some people don’t understand—many people say they can’t relate, but God’s Word pierces my heart. It changes my attitude, it directs and guides me, it transforms me from within. When I was forty nine, I had my first tattoo imprinted on my forearm which says: “Romans 12: 1-2”. In this passage we are told to “not be conformed any longer to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I put this verse on my forearm for a reason! I have to remind myself daily of my need for Christ, of my need for his “manna”; his daily bread and sustenance. Each day I must be renewed by the good news of the gospel. On those days when I feel lazy and weak, and my mind is racing with rampant thoughts, I have to place myself at the foot of the cross. It is only there, in humility, that I find victory and strength. And it isn’t easy. I am not a spiritual giant. So, each day, with the grace and faith that God gives, I attempt to make it through despite my circumstances.
Third, I am thankful that I am learning that life is not about neat, tidy, packaged experiences that get wrapped up with a life lesson daily. I am learning that life is messy, disordered, and chaotic. Oh, I have known this—but I still get all bent out of shape when my day is disrupted, when my calendar is compromised. Yet having cancer is showing me that each day is just that—a day. As ordered and scheduled as I may want it to be, it often doesn’t quite go “my way.” I have been addicted to “lists” my whole life—and my poor husband and boys have to deal with my addiction daily. If I have a list and it gets “checked off”, I feel accomplished and purposeful. But if the lists pour over to the next day, week or month, I get off kilter, overwhelmed, and even panicked. Yes, I am admitting my anxiety on the internet. In fact, through my blog I have been sharing a lot of very personal and transparent things.
Many times I want to wrap up my blog post into a neat, tidy package with a little life lesson ribbon on top. But I am learning that isn’t how reality is…..days run into the next and weeks run into the next and months run into the next, and often we are merely existing, surviving, trying to hold on. I am hoping that through my fears, my anxiety, my rants, my faith—that some of you will feel like someone else understands YOU. I am hoping that through my words and my circumstances that YOU will feel that you can be real and transparent and raw and reckless. That you don’t have to wrap up each day in a neat package, that in fact, most days are not that way at all. They are just days. That you may not feel purpose or strength or faith on any given day…..and that is okay. And as much as I want to wrap this up with some platitude or scripture verse with hope, I am going to be okay with leaving it messy and disordered and chaotic.