For quite a while now I have been feeling distant from God. My prayers had become more focused on me - why do I still have cancer, why won't it go away, please make it go away, I can't take it anymore! I'm not sure when it happened but my prayer life has taken a turn. I find myself praying more and more about seeing the world through God's eyes and less about cancer.
I have also been feeling for a while now that God is up to something. Something big and something good. The song Wait & See by Brandon Heath sums up exactly what I'm feeling.
Still wonderin' why I'm here.
Still wrestling with my fear
But oh... HE's up to something,
And the farther out I go,
I've seen enough to know
That I'm not here for nothin'...
He's up to somethin'.
There is hope, for me yet,
Because God won't forget,
All the plans HE's made for me
I have to wait and see,
HE's not finished with me yet,
HE's not finished with me yet.
Yesterday before my feet even hit the floor I prayed again that I would have His eyes. As I was about to walk into church I saw groups of people standing around and I had the thought "do they realize that they just spent time being filled up with God's word? Do they know how lucky we are to be able to worship together? Will they take what they learned during the sermon and apply it to their lives or was it left at the door thinking 'okay, I've done the Christian thing for the week'? When I say "they" I am also including myself. I've asked these questions about myself and I didn't like what I heard. I had fallen into the "get up, go to church because it is the right thing to do, go home and start thinking about the week ahead"
As I walked into church I was overwhelmed with the noise. There were people everywhere! Brian was already in there because he had attended a Sunday School class at the early service. As I was trying to figure out how to get the kids and I through this mass of people I saw one of Brian's friends. Jokingly I said "hey, you want to cut us a path through this?" He said "let's go" and we walked right through that wall of people.
If I had been the one leading us through it would have taken us forever! I become overwhelmed quickly in loud, busy social settings. Walking through the chaos typically makes me feel like a tiny ant trying desperately to crawl to the top of the pile. As I focused my attention on our 'fearless leader' though the noise fell away and I simply moved forward one step at a time and before I knew it we were through.
At the time I was thinking how cool it was that we made it through so quickly. This morning though I can see how that experience compares to every day life. There is chaos all around us and if we stop and focus on it then we will get bogged down, overwhelmed and stuck. If we keep our eyes up and focused on God then He will keep a clear path and guide us where we need to go.
By the end of church I had an ache in my neck (the area that was treated with radiation) and the pain had moved down my arm and up into my neck. The top of my hand and my cheek were both tingly. Of course my instant reaction to anything "off" is that it's the cancer spreading. I left church right after the service ended, went home and went to bed. Before I went to bed though I looked at email (yes, I have an obsession problem with email). There was an email from Dayspring Blessings which I typically just delete because it is always just a very short devotion with a link to their website. I had my cursor on the delete button when I heard "read it first". This is what it said:
In Case You Ever Wonder...
the one with that dream in your heart,
that idea on your mind,
that desire that just won't go away.
You wonder...can I do this?
You can do all things. (Philippians. 4:13)
You ask...do I have what it takes?
You've got all you need. (2 Peter 1:3)
You question...is who I am okay?
You're more than okay, you're His. (Psalm 139:14)
So go for it.
Dare to make that difference, take that step, follow that dream. God will go with you, and love will see you through.
I had to sit down after reading that. I thought "who wrote this and how do they know that I have had a dream in my heart, a desire that won't go away, and questions about being good enough"? It was like God hitting me over the head with a 2x4 (okay so He wouldn't really do that but you know what I mean).
I went to bed with that email in my head. If I hadn't read the email I would have probably have gone to bed, let my mind go to the worst case scenario of what was causing my neck pain and fallen into a deep, dark, lonely pit.
Instead, I went to bed thinking about the email. I've been hearing God call me for a long time now to do something but I just couldn't figure out what it was. I'm still not quite sure but I know it has to do with my story - my journey through cancer with God and the person I've become as a result of it.
The more often that I pray to have His eyes and His ears I am noticing that I see things in a whole different perspective and hear His voice more often. Although this is very cool it is also scary. I get really uncomfortable when I feel Him nudging me talk to someone about something I heard Him say.
I've had friends do that to me before and I am always amazed at what they shared (and the courage it took to share it) that I want to say "keep in touch and let me know if He tells you anything else"! But being on the other end of this conversation is hard. I'm afraid they will look at me like I'm crazy or get mad at me. I really, really, really (did I mention really) hate conflict and will try to avoid it at any cost. I am quite comfortable in my safe little bubble world!
Quite a few years ago (maybe 5 or 6?) I was going through a lot of depression and anxiety that I didn't understand. I began writing poems and wrote a lot of them. This is one of the last ones I wrote:
God told me to write a book, but He didn’t use those words.
He simply put it on my heart - there’s a message to be heard.
I’m not quite sure what the message is or who it’s intended for,
but I know that in due time He’ll open up that door.
I think that door has been opened. Not only do I want to write (or speak) about living with cancer but I also want to share how this has changed my relationship with God. I was your basic "grew up in a Christian home, went to college, got married, had kids, made good choices" type of Christian. After being diagnosed with cancer I realized that I had so much more to learn about what being a Christian meant. It's not just about going to church. When people start talking about statistics and putting you into one of the categories (and not the ones you want to be in!) it really puts life into perspective. All the silly little things just don't matter any more.
I've grown a lot over the past few years - both Brian and I have. He also has the basic "grew up in a Christian home, college, married, kids, do the right thing" kind of story. Cancer has changed both of our individual relationships with God and our prayer lives. Choosing to be in the spotlight and put it all out there with the blog can be overwhelming at times. There are days (lots of them) where I really wish that nobody knew me or that I had cancer. I don't want their first thought to be "oh, there's that poor girl with cancer". That's what I've been feeling for a while now but I realizing that I can change that. I can be the "hey, there is that girl that has an amazing story to tell about how God has changed her life" and "wow, I'd better put my sun glasses on because God's light is just beaming through her!"
I think maybe the cancer is still here because God's light will shine so much brighter if I am broken. I still would love the cancer to just disappear but if this is how God is choosing to use me then my prayers will be for the strength and patience to endure, wisdom to make the right medical decisions and that He would use our story in a mighty way to bring many to know Him and also to bring those that already know Him even closer.
A few weeks after being diagnosed I wrote this in an update and I meant every word of it ~
God is working through me and through all of you and together we are going to turn many more sheep into God’s pasture! Isn’t that amazing! What an honor! First, I know some of you may have been online or researching ovarian cancer. The numbers are not good. However, I do not believe in these numbers, I believe in God. I am not in denial, I just am choosing to believe that God has a plan for me and that plan involves surviving this cancer and becoming His light for many, many years to come. Should this not be the plan, I will cross that bridge when it comes my way. For right now I am praying boldly that this is God’s plan for me and I would like you to do the same. Do not dwell on numbers because it becomes overwhelming! Dwell only on God!!! Together with all of us (and we are a mighty team!) praying boldly we will all win this battle and it is going to change all of us. I have seen amazing changes in many people close to me and have heard of many others. God is working through me and through all of you and together we are going to turn many more sheep into God’s pasture! Isn’t that amazing! What an honor! I know together we can do it. Please hold everyone up in prayer and encourage them. I have never really been a very "open" person before but I am changing. It is so important to encourage one another as the bible says. Let God’s light beam through all of us and just imagine how bright this world will be!!!!
I am finally feeling that energy and passion again! To be honest, when I read stuff like that post I think -wow, they need to cut back on the sugar! My judgemental side kicks in and thinks they are just saying all that for attention. I wrote this though I know that it wasn't for attention (I'd much prefer to be a wallflower)! I remember feeling that passionate at the time I wrote it. I've had many times throughout the years where I'd read that again and think "okay, I know I was sincere when I wrote that but right now that peppiness is really annoying"!
I've been praying for that passion to return for so long that I didn't think it would ever come back. It would come back a little but then Satan would get his jabs in and I'd give up and listen to his lies. I know that he is trembling right now and I also know that I have a big red bulls eye on my forehead that he is going to start aiming at with everything he's got. And he's going to use his same old tricks which thankfully I am catching onto.
Well, this is officially the longest post I have ever written! So much more is going through my head but I've quite possibly lost many readers before they even made it halfway through this post. So, I will end with the words of a song that I just can't (and don't want to) get out of my head. It's Set the World on Fire by Britt Nicole.
I wanna set the world on fire
Until it's burning bright for You
It's everything that I desire
Can I be the one You use?
I am small but you are big enough
I am weak but you are strong enough to
Take my dreams come and give them wings
Lord with You there's nothing I can not do,
Nothing I can not do.