My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

05 December 2007

life lessons (beware of raw thoughts)

There was a time in my life when I went through what I liked to call "pressure cooker growth." In college I was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, and there were constantly people around me truly interested in my spiritual growth and maturity. They asked hard questions, provided opportunities for Bible study and to serve. I grew a lot in college, much to the credit of that organization. And then right after college I went to China for four years, which is when the heat was really turned up. Those four years were the hardest of my life. And yet, I would venture to say, they were also the most fruitful. Because daily life was so hard, I had no choice but to turn to God as my confidante, my strength, my best friend, my comforter, my savior. There is no way I'd have made it through those years with any kind of grace if it had not been for my ever-growing relationship with Jesus. I believe I grew more in those four years than I had in the previous 23 combined. There's a lot I don't miss about China, but if there's one thing I do, its the growth. I hated the fire, but I treasure the refinement.

I moved home from China in June of 2003. The following year was a rough one, spent mostly depressed as I recovered from the stress of the previous four years and the struggle of re-entry. During that time, though it was more passive, I also grew a lot. I had only God to lean on, and often felt he was my only Friend, and so our relationship continued to grow.

However, I am writing today to admit that my spiritual growth hit a serious plateau in the summer of 2004. I had recovered from the huge transitions of living overseas and moving home, I had a job I enjoyed, met a man I liked, joined a church where I made some new friends, and moved into an apartment with an old friend. Life was good and the living was easy, as they say. And as everyone knows, when life is easy and things are moving along smoothly, suddenly our need for God doesn't seem so urgent. I seemed fully capable of running things myself, none of it was that hard anyway. And very slowly but surely, my relationship with God began to grow stagnant.

Now here I sit, three years later, married to that fabulous man I liked, still in a job I enjoy (though a different one now), and looking at the future with hope and excitement. And I am suddenly being faced with the reality that I am responsible for letting my most important relationship slip from importance. Because my felt need for an all-powerful, comforting, merciful, just God seems small, my efforts to connect with him are also small.

And I have suddenly become alarmed at this fact. I was chatting with a friend the other night about what it means to have a dynamic relationship with God when it seems to easy to be successful on our own. We live in a land of plenty, a culture of more, with little want, if any. I have intelligence, wisdom, skills and talents, all of which help me appear as a success to all those around me. I have a wonderful husband and a comfortable home, friends and family who love me, and whom I love. When life is so good and easy, when my biggest struggle is wishing I could spend more on Christmas gifts, my felt need for God and his power and strength to conduct my life is nearly non-existent.

But it doesn't need I don't need God. My "felt need" isn't even the question here, is it. Since when does my faith depend on feelings? I am called to righteousness and holiness, regardless of how good or bad my life is. I am called to a relationship with Jesus, regardless of my felt need for his help. And though he has done the significant work, I am still accountable to my end of the deal. I told him he could have my life, and yet what part of my life these days am I really giving? And I'm finding myself ashamed at just how much I withhold. I have SO MUCH and yet am still reluctant to give, even what I've already promised.

My friend of the other night and I began talking about what it might mean to pray for growth, and agreed its a scary prospect. Yes, I treasure the growth those tough years in China brought, but I do not wish to live those years over again. But it is said real spiritual growth requires fire, and I admit I am afraid of the fire. I went into those years in China oblivious to the havoc they would wreak in my life. But now I feel like I have a taste of what the fire feels like, and I am not ready to jump in ... even though the result is something I so desperately desire. As of this moment, I have not figured out how to reconcile this conundrum.

But I do know one thing, I cannot continue on this spiritual plateau of mine. Either it starts heading downhill, or I do something to help force its way up again. Nothing worth having is free of hard work, toil and labor. Perhaps it can start small, with a commitment to an accountability group, a Bible study with friends, prayer with my husband. I definitely know I'm reaching a point where the desire for that rich relationship with God is greater than my fear of the fire through which I might have to walk. Honestly, I can't say I'm there, and I'm even a little afraid to pray for it. But again, afraid or not, I am called to holiness. And I've never been one to back down from a challenge.

*This entry is dedicated to my grandma, whose wise words and courage to speak I will forever treasure.

1 comment:

melanie said...

Great post. Good thoughts.