This week my family and friends celebrate 5 years of my body being healed from cancer. It has been a huge month of reflection on that season and where we have come and where we are going. I have been using the word joy as I share our story and give a glimpse into that season of our lives.
I was laying in bed last night thinking about how odd that must sound when so much of the language around cancer and suffering fails to mention joy. I get that. Chemotherapy was awful. Losing my long brown hair was incredibly devastating to me. I was 25 years old with a new little baby girl and a young marriage. But you know what? In the midst of the pain, heartache, fear, and what ifs...I really did find myself.
I can only assume based on my experiences that is it in the trials and the risks and the unknowns that we find out how deep we can go. that the Lord will in fact carry us through anything. even if we don't "feel" Him or "see" Him...we are never alone in our desperation. especially if our desperate pleas aren't about what we want or what we think is best or where we want go. but we are actually capable of far more than we ever dreamt or imagined when you have nothing to lose...or even if you have everything to lose.
That the Lord of the Universe...if we confess Him as our Savior and trust Him with everything...than of course we have the opportunity to experience joy in the depth of our souls. He promised us that. He never said...“if” we suffer but instead “when” we suffer. Therefore He knows that in our pain and the unknowns we would be given a chance to fully trust Him with our life and our story. Now I mean really trust. Not just saying it like nice little Christians might say but instead...in life or in death I belong to Jesus Christ. Therefore His purpose for me is the BEST despite my plans or vision for the future. And maybe...just maybe it suddenly becomes far greater than we could have ever even dreamt. That isn’t easy. Not much about handing your life to God is easy. But it is good. It is so good. In cancer I was able to experience the Lord in a new way. the cliches were gone and the whole...this isn’t my plan was thrown out the window. Thus, cancer was the means to leading me to a place of wholehearted, no questions asked, I am ALL in for the rest of life. In laying down of my plans and purpose and life I found the deep comfort and peace that can only come the creator who made ME.
I shared my life story (4 minutes worth) with my bible study and I realized my adult/college life has been broken up into two major areas that had they not happened very little about the life i am living now would even exist. One was the summer I spent at a Young Life camp and where I met my husband and the other was cancer. Two giant life trajectory shifts. Do you see any shifts in your life?Where do you see it? Are you in it now?
The intimacy with the Lord and how He showed His love to my family so tangibly I decided that I would never turn back. Never turning back doesn’t mean easy. I actually think for me it has been harder. Several moves to new cities and states and new friendships and crippled by my own fear and insecurities. It’s a daily choice to trust Him in the midst of confusion and the honest desire that things would some days look different. Live closer to family, closer to my dearest friends, a real clear vision for life with all the steps laid out neatly for me. But that isn’t how it works. That isn’t trust. So in my doubt and fear I will continuously come back to my illness and how the Lord used the most scary time in my life to bring me to Himself. In that place He provided hope and joy and peace in my heart, my marriage, the relationships around me, and loving my daughter in a far deeper way. It really is all a gift. We are not guaranteed anything. Health, money, career, marriage, love, etc. But and this is a huge but...God loves you and is for you and wants you. All of you. Will you choose Jesus? No matter where you find yourself today. Is He all you want? I would never trade coming to the end of myself for anything because it brought me to a place of realizing my own inability to do ANYTHING outside of His grace and love...including laundry.
Fight for joy. I am not that good at it. I am often lazy and seclude myself despite desiring friendships. I want all of this. I believe everything i just wrote. I want it for you. I would tell you all this if we were on my couch talking. I swear. But i am telling myself these same truths everyday. Often several times throughout the day because I often hear the louder voice that says...you are fat (that one is so funny because I am pregnant but the lies are real), not worthy, not good enough, can't do it, purposeless, without value because I don't have a "cool" career. And the sickening part is this is two days after reading letters from some of the people I hold dearest in how I have not wasted cancer or my life. (it deserves its own post on the epic book my husband and friend annika created for me to celebrate 5 years of healing).
No one is doing this perfectly. No one has it all together. Even the really wise authors who write books and speak and share Jesus. We are all in the same boat. Each hour of each day choosing real, deep, life altering joy because we were made for so much more than this. Ask for it. Tell the Lord what you want. The secret desires, dreams, passions. He knows your heart anyways. Life the life you have always been meant to live.
I am about to fold laundry. it isn't glamorous or cool but it's essential to our families presentation to the world. much of our life may feel way more consumed by that type of stuff...so if that is true for you because you aren't a kardashian who i am assuming have a team of "people" do it all for them. i want to encourage you that you aren't alone. each season of life brings different tasks and responsibilities that seem mundane. but what if...what if these are THE days. like you are actually living your life...today. of course parts of it are annoying and we don't want to do it. i get that. but i think we have more to be grateful for and praise the Lord for than we take the time to recognize. and if you don't believe me. that's alright. maybe find a friend or someone you love and trust to speak into your life the truths about yourself, your purpose, and your heart. because today it is too hard to do it on your own. i get that. none of this is for the faint of heart. this is for truth seekers and life livers. we want more. more of what the Lord graciously desires to cover us with each hour of each day forever.
and to conclude...i do watch the kardashians. you can judge me. i can handle it. i am also not naive to the fact that even the most seemingly glamorous lives aren't weighted down by self-doubt, fear, and insecurities...amongst many more. don't believe our cultures lies. we are just people trying to find a way. thankfully i know that in Jesus i already found THE way and it is stepping into that daily.
let's walk in it together. forever.
***parts of this post are being shared on the website mybigjesus. please check it out and read more from other encouraging writers.