The last nine days have not been what I expected. Whether the reason was that I expected to feel better or that the cumulative effect of six chemotherapy treatments kicked in, all I know is that it’s been a challenging nine days.
If you’ve asked me, I have probably told you that things have not been good. I have been a bit of a complainer actually. Chemo day has always been good, but not this time. Queasiness and intestinal issues have ruled every single day, and nerve pain and numbness in my feet have left me almost non-functioning. I have felt and looked like an old woman (don’t joke, please!), and I admit that I have been a real grump. I haven’t liked myself or my attitude, but I haven’t tried to change either.
Tonight things are marginally better, but all day I’ve been thinking about why I have been acting like this. Did I not expect to experience problems with chemotherapy? Did I think that my problem is somehow worse than another person’s problem and so I would be excused for my attitude? Did I really think that having cancer is a valid excuse for whining and complaining? Now before you start thinking I’m being too hard on myself, let me say it has been that bad and, in fact, my internal conversations have been worse than what I’ve said aloud. I have ignored the truth that God is real and present and faithful. I just wanted to feel sorry for myself, and I didn’t care what anyone thought about it.
There has been nothing different about my reality for the last 9 days, except my attitude. I’ve allowed myself to wallow in my misery, and I’ve felt worse as a result. I’m not saying that I should be faking having a good day; I am saying that taking every thought captive to the will of Christ is not optional and it’s not dependent upon my circumstances. Here’s the context: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
I’ve always thought of rigid self-discipline when I read those words, and I haven’t liked the message; however, tonight I see the freedom that comes from living in this truth. As long as I am fighting my situation, I am miserable. When I stop complaining and start trusting, I find my situation becomes brighter in spite of my circumstances. Gee, doesn’t that sound like something that God would do?
When I was first diagnosed, my prayer was that I would be faithful to the One who loves me and calls me to Himself. That’s the lesson I’ve realized God has had for me over the last nine days, a wake-up call to the purpose I myself identified for this experience. I’m also thankful that He forgives my unfaithfulness and restores me to a right relationship.
Let me list some of what I’ve discovered about God since February 17:
• He has prepared every step of the way for me.
• He has interrupted my moments with precious encounters with friends both near and far.
• He has removed my ability to push beyond my strength and made me welcome rest.
• He has turned my instinctively frustrated reaction when I can’t do something to a peaceful acknowledgement that He is protecting me against myself.
• He has made me aware of how glorious is the body of Christ and the blessings of being a part of a community of believers.
• He has reminded me that we are all broken people in a world that is not our home but that we can live in victory because the battle has already been won.
Lord, forgive me. I am listening, and I am grateful for the wake-up call of the last nine days. Wherever you lead me next, I am following and I want to take every thought, word, and action captive to Your will—because I’m miserable when I focus on myself.