This blog has been a bigger blessing in my life than I anticipated when I began writing. Sharing my journey has helped me make real connections with people going through similar trials. It has helped me know how many people are supporting me around the world which makes me feel less alone and isolated. Another thing I have appreciated, as I hit the 1 year anniversary of various milestones, is that it has captured my thoughts and feelings through this year. I can look back and read posts about my surgery or feeling scared before my first chemo infusion. I can relive some of the grief from lost dreams because I have chosen to be honest in this forum. Being able to look back helps me to look forward and that will be the topic of this Storm Survival post.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post titled: I will remember. That was not a good season. That was an especially bad day. I was just starting chemo and it was going…well as good as chemo can go…but life outside of cancer had just become excruciating. I was broken. I was overwhelmed by everything that was coming at me. I didn’t have the capacity to deal with or process things that I needed to. I spent a lot of time in bed or on the couch in a daze. Breathing seemed to take too much effort. But I chose to write a post about remembrance. I believe in a good and faithful God, who is bigger than my circumstances, who has worked miracles and loves me more than I can imagine. A God of redemption. When my life was falling apart I chose to lift my eyes and remember the works and miracles of the past. His character hasn’t changed just because my life circumstances are hard.
I re-read that post…remembering all the pain I was feeling in that moment…and thinking some things have changed…some things haven’t. I had no idea what was in store for me over the next year when I wrote that. I had no idea what would still be stripped away and what I would need to surrender. I had no idea that God was actively training my heart to rely ONLY on him because the biggest tests were coming and I would be forced to my knees like never before. I had no idea that I would be able to point to practical examples of God’s protection of me. That I would be pushed completely out of my capacity into his and he really would sustain me…through the most difficult season I have ever faced…and am still facing.
I am not the same person I was a year ago. Only by God’s grace I am a better version of myself. This year has been scorching but it is solidifying who I am as a woman and a child of God. But the act of remembrance is one I need to renew and struggle with every morning. It wasn’t just a nice thought a year ago but the beginning of a continual process of calling to mind God’s faithfulness when my life circumstances want to pull my eyes down to my own hardships. This is an excerpt from my post a year ago:
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion? ”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
At this particular moment I feel like I am living in the first half of this psalm (vs 1-10). Where my spirit is grieving and weary. It is difficult to be comforted or to find the strength to carry on. Sleep is hard to come by and it is impossible to know what to do. Except remember. I will choose to remember the ways God has worked in my life and the power/miracles he has displayed throughout time. This is not overly spiritualized my heart is still heavy…but I know my God. I know he is the giver of life and redemption. I know he can move mountains and pray fervently for transformation and provision. And with this remembrance comes the peace of knowing it will not always be this way.
I would love to say that after a year all my struggles are in the past. Unfortunately that is not the case. I am, however, in a different place. I have my moments of grief but I don’t feel like I am trapped any longer in the overwhelming, emotional cycle of the first 10 verses. It is easier for me to see and hold on to how faithful God has been through the generations and in my life. Again, note that I said easIER…because I still have to fight against my pride and desire to control things. It is not easy for me to truly let go but I am learning every day that that is the only way to true freedom. There is a mountain being moved in my life. It is still in process and in general it isn’t fun but God REALLY is moving a mountain. So I will keep remembering…I will keep clinging…I will keep hoping.
- I have a list of the very real, very practical ways I have seen God provide and protect me this past year. When I doubt, when I am scared, when I am losing hope I read it. I remember the faithfulness of the past and wait expecting the same for the future…even when I can’t see the path yet.
- Sometimes “remembering” is hearing someone else’s testimony about how God has transformed their heart and life. Everyone’s story is different but hearing the ways God has worked helps keep me going. There are so many but here are a few I would recommend “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom (This book will give you an amazing perspective on what Thanksgiving is), “Blood Brothers” by Elias Chacour (Finding God’s hope for reconciliation in a difficult region), “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken (Read this one with a box of tissue…but definitely read it)
- Once again with the journaling. 🙂 Nothing tells you how far you have come like a record of where you have been.
- No other practical suggestions except do what you can to get up every morning…it wont always be like this.
Here’s to surviving another week,