Beach time!

Beach time!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The 5 things that cancer taught me

Recently I was asked to participate in an article in my local newspaper that was focusing on cancer survivors. The theme was "What I learned from cancer". I didn't have a hard time coming up with one. Rather, it was difficult narrowing the lessons down to one sentence blurb. The answer I gave was neatly wrapped up. The reality is not quite as easily packaged, as many of you are all too familiar.

What I learned from cancer:

1. The enemy wants to destroy. In the raw moment of my cancer diagnosis on a cold Wednesday evening, we momentarily felt our hope slip past us. I knew in that very moment that if the enemy could destroy our hope and our spirit, he could kill our joy. We began a journey slightly in which we chose life. Chose hope. Chose joy.
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20)

2. It's okay to hurt and struggle, even in front of people. This was a tough one for me. I had to learn that it was healthy to have times when others saw that sometimes cancer just hurts. Sometimes cancer makes you cry. Sometimes cancer makes you feel terrified. And when we allow others into those moments, we often create a vulnerability that bridges relationships and points people to Him. Who understands suffering more than Jesus?
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our inequities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

3. Your relationships will change. While some people around you might have difficulty "doing life" with someone in pain, many more press in and intentionally walk beside you and carry you when you can't quite seem to walk on your own. Relationships become more real, More sacred. Just more.
"...who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:4

4. God can (and will) use your scars. My scars are not a reminder of being wounded. They are my reminders of redemption, healing, and grace. I see my scars every day. Sometimes in a passing glance but other times in complete reverence with the humble realization that God chose to heal me fully.
"For I will restore you to health and heal your wounds..."Jeremiah 30:17

5. Baldness can be a part of a testimony. As devastating as it can be to outwardly show evidence of sickness and treatment, baldness allows people to have a glimpse into the pain. And everyone relates to pain at varying levels. God provided countless opportunities for raw and vulnerable conversations in my 'bald season' that otherwise might not have happened. Being able to praise Him during treatment, both in the quiet and while people were watching, were some of my most humbling and worshipful moments. And I am forever grateful for those moments.
"Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

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