ABSURD!!! You can stop the wheel now!
Really God? I know I have some lumps and impurities to work out, but do you really need to KNEAD me this hard? My first reaction was to laugh. It was just absurd! ABSURD!!! "Works for the good of those who love Him.....HA! Yeah right!" Yes, I really did think that. Yes, I really did laugh at the absurdity of it. I had really believed those words from Romans 8:28 for the last year, while I prepared myself and my two young girls for my husband's deployment. We had read scripture, gone to counseling as a family, enlisted help and prayer from our church family, and planned out an entire year of activities while he would be away. I wasn't going to enjoy the year, but I was well prepared and I truly believed that it ultimately would "work for the good". So, it was just ABSURD that I was hearing the words "You have cancer", only one month after my husband left for the Middle East. "Okay Lord, what the heck are you thinking? How is this going to work for the good?" It was so so absurd, I laughed out loud.
My husband left for deployment on August 9, 2009. Sometime during the end of August, I noticed a lump at my sock line on my left leg. I brushed it off as still being fat after the birth of my second child (it was a year and half later, but it sounded good to me at the time). I always hated my thick ankles. I was never able to wear one of those delicate anklets that graced the legs of many women. So now I had more reason to hate my ankles, one was bigger then the other!!! A couple of weeks went by and the lump continued to grow steadily. While at a check up for my girls, I mentioned it to their Pediatrician. She sent me over to her husbands office (he was my Doctor). First I had an x ray, which didn't show anything abnormal. They decided to be diligent and send me for an ultrasound the next day. When the call came in with the results, I laughed. They were 99% sure that I had something called a "Soft Tissue Sarcoma". Cancer. Absurd. I had CANCER during my husbands deployment. ABSURD. Boy, did I want to jump off this stupid potter's wheel at that moment! I think I had just about enough of being shaped, molded and spun around. Thank you very much. Lord, you can stop the wheel now, I am ready to get off!!! Again, I say ABSURD!
The next few days were a blur. In hindsight, God was working for the Good. It was hard to see at first glance. In the next few posts, I will share all the blessings he poured out on me during one of the most difficult year of my life. We often hear people say that the God of the Bible no longer works miracles. I mean, really, when was the last time you saw a sea parting in two or a person being raised from the dead? Those "big" miracles don't seem to happen these days. However, I learned in my cancer journey that He is still the God of miracles, He does have His hands on every tiny detail of our lives, and His angels are ever present with us each day. I say that, not because I was cured of my cancer, but because I witnessed first hand His presence with me every single day throughout my battle.
So do you believe "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him"?? Before you answer quickly during a "blessing" time in your life, think to a time that seemed so far removed from any obvious blessing. Remember a time in your life that you may have lost a loved one, went through a divorce, or a horrific illness. Maybe you are are in one of those times right now. If you are, you probably are wishing you could get your hands on me, so you could pound the crap out of this piece of clay who is talking about "the good"!! It is okay. I would have wanted to pound me too, if I read this blog that day! Are you or were you able to see past the pounding, kneading, painful throws of your clay, to what could be a beautiful, purposeful clay jar? It is not easy to see what He is doing while you (the clay) are being molded by the Potter. Why? Because it hurts and it makes no sense to us. However the saying goes...
Only GOD can turn a MESS into a MESSage, a TEST into a TESTimony, a TRIal into a TRIumph, a VICTim into a VICTory. GOD is GOOD…
He can actually do that. It is not easy to see during the painful process of being molded, pulled, broken and thrown around on His wheel. However, if you look closely enough, you will see His fingerprints on the clay of your heart, especially during the hardest times of your life.
image from http://sadieyates.blogspot.com
Until next time....Lumpy out....
Stop that truck! The license plate said G-U-I-L-T
Proverbs 17:22 - "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
The other day, I started a blog post about having joy and laughter during my cancer journey. It is based on the above scripture and is chock full of laughable funny moments from my journey. Then I spent a day in a place I have never been in my life. A friend of mine Mother is dying from cancer. She is most likely in the last day's of her life right now at Yale's Cancer Hospital. So as I was walking through the halls of the Cancer Hospital, a 18 wheel truck somehow got in the building and ran me down. All I saw was the license plate with the big letters G-U-I-L-T.
It was the first time in 2 1/2 years, I felt GUILTY for being a cancer survivor. I was so OVERWHELMED with this feeling that it took my breath away. For the last 2 1/2 years I have proudly worn my purple survivor shirts, donned my survivor pins/ribbons and had my survivor rock in my car. I was proud to have survived this horrible illness. Then came the TRUCK. My head was filled with guilt and shame as I looked in each room. People who looked so small, curled into uncomfortable positions on these huge hospital beds, things beeping, and tubes connecting them to at least 5 machines. All these people are in the last days of their own cancer battle and the families by their sides grieving the coming loss. These people are no different then me! Why did I survive and they aren't? I have nothing to be "proud" of!!!! What a jerk I have been! Oh man, did those thoughts take over my head and worse...took over my heart.
For the last two days, I have been allowing those thoughts consume me. It has not been a fun battle.
Finally, I confessed these thoughts to a very wise friend of mine. She said in quite a firm voice (it may have even been a slight yell) "YOU HAVE TO GO BACK TO HIS SOVEREIGN PLAN!!! You are here for His PURPOSE. They are there for HIS PURPOSE. Each person, survivor or not, is playing out their own roles and purpose in LORDS SOVEREIGN PLAN. God is NOT the author of GUILT! So STOP it right now and fulfill your purpose." Okay. It is not so easy to do. When the G-U-I-L-T creeps into my soul, I have to say SHUT UP and go back to see His Sovereign plan for my life and those around me.
For less spiritual counsel, I talked to my wonderful oncologist at my follow up appointment yesterday. His take on it was that, what I experienced is similar to that of a PTSD survival guilt. He explained that we as a society are charting new discoveries in cancer and the feelings associated with cancer survivorship. Never before in history has there been more people surviving this horrific disease. This is a GREAT thing. He said that my Joy during my battle was contagious and it DID impact many of the people I met along my journey. I should not take that Joy lightly. He also said, unfortunately there are thousands of people dying every day from cancer and if you succumb to that reality and pain for each and every life, you will be forever lost in sorrow. There are also thousands of people surviving every day. There are also thousands of babies being born each day. You must move forward with each wonderful day that you are allowed to be here.
Funny thing about God, He always gives you the right person or right scripture at the right time to remind us of His plan and purpose for us. As I said above, my "draft post" about Joy had the scripture from Proverbs, but also in the draft it had another one that I was sure how I was going to apply it to my "funny" post, but I copied and pasted it just in case I figured something out. As I was writing THIS post, I remembered it.
"Nehemiah said, 'Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.'" Nehemiah 8:10
I may NEVER know why God allowed me to win my cancer battle and not allow my friends mom and thousands of others not to to win theirs. However, I do believe he has a plan for each and every one of us. So I will do my best not to grieve, but to SHARE my "food, sweet drinks and JOY" with those who have nothing prepared. My strength, my survival and my JOY only comes from the author and giver of life. I can not feel guilty for being alive. I just have to make sure I give credit to the one who deserves it, not myself! I have to make sure that I am thankful for each day He gives me to share His LOVE and His JOY. I must seek His face and His purpose for each remaining day I have here in this earthly body.
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