Warning: This kind of stuff normally makes its way into my personal journal. The thoughts I wrestle with in private, never allowing to see the light of day.
Redeeming and Transforming
The longer I have struggled with these thoughts the more I have felt led to share them. I am not seeking sympathy. Nor do I need you to speak words of comfort or praise. I share them because I believe it is one way God is working to redeem this journey of mine. I believe it is important for us to honestly share the entirety of life’s experience with each other. My prayer is that as I share my struggle God may transform it into a source of strength and encouragement for others. At the very least, may we recognize we do not struggle alone.
With that said, I am blessed…but I am depressed, frustrated, and weary of the struggle. It is a season. Seasons come and go. The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
I believe that to be true. Right now, I am embracing my season of struggle, frustration, and depression. I will not wallow there…but I will not deny it either.
If I am honest, I struggle with this season. I struggle because it does not feel right.
- I have been to parts of the world where people with my illness would have passed away years ago. Many would never have received even the most basic of treatments. Who am I to feel the least bit frustrated or weary of my journey when I am receiving the best care anyone could ask for?
- The fact that I am even able to write these words is a miracle. My surgeon speaks of me as “an outlier.” Dr. Schneider is amazed at the amount of time I have been off treatment since May of 2016. What gives me the right to feel anything but blessed?
Yet, I am frustrated, I am weary. I am disappointed in myself when I recognize those emotions within me. That disappointment does nothing more than to cause the season to grow longer, and the pain to be deeper.
The Source of My Struggle
Where does the frustration, weariness and depression come from?
- While this next round of treatment is new there will be familiar pieces to the journey. I am anticipating being weak and tiring easy. While this targeted chemotherapy will have different effects upon my body…I know how chemotherapy makes me feel.
- I am anxious. Nervous would be a good word. The decision regarding treatment has been made but we still have to arrange schedules and set a date for surgery. I would go in for surgery tomorrow if they would let me. Let’s get this over with.
- I was planning to travel to Africa next week. That is most likely not happening. Will my life change dramatically if I go, probably not. Yet in some self-centered way I feel cheated. I was looking forward to this trip. Cancer has taken it from me.
- This next thing is ridiculous. I know it to be true, but it still messes with me. I am going to be in the hospital for a few days and then there will be a few weeks of recovery. While God has helped me see His strength in weakness, I still resist being weak myself. Foolishness. The list of what needs to be done, what I must accomplish grows longer each day and I am anticipating some serious down time. God heal me of my need to do…help me embrace simply being!
- Nancy’s new job is an amazing blessing, we are thankful for it. Yet during my past two rounds of treatment Nancy was very close by. We worked in the same building. When I needed help she was there. You might say I grew dependent upon her. A part of me is worried that not having her near is going to make this round of treatment more difficult.
My Mind Wanders
These and other reasons cause my mind to wander. A wandering mind is not always a good thing. Worry, doubt, fear, and anxiety begin to play games with my thinking. This is a season, it too shall pass.
Once the pump is installed, we can begin to get into a rhythm of life that will become the new normal. I recognize that part of my funk is because we are in a season of waiting. In the past we would look at scans, make a decision to resume treatment, and I would be having chemotherapy the next Monday. The past month of knowing we are going to do something…waiting for answers…and now waiting for schedules to align is not good for my soul.
The Seasons begin to Change
I am away on retreat this week. My soul needed it, desperately. In one of my times of reading I came across this quote,
“The failure to be properly grateful, to take as owed what is offered as a gift, lies at the root of many our deepest resentments…”1
- I am angry because in some twisted way I believe I am owed good health…
- frustrated because others are not moving in the way I would like them to…
- discouraged because I will miss out on a trip I was so looking forward to.
ALL of Life is Gift
When I do not see ALL of life [the good, the bad, and the ugly] as gift it is easy, way to easy to believe I am owed something.
Living and moving as if I am owed anything allows me to build resentments that serve to slowly eat away at my soul.
A little later in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 the teacher writes,
…no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat, drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – that is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:11-13
For whatever time God has for me I will strive to “be happy and do good.” I will seek to “find satisfaction in all my toil.”
Oddly enough…the more I focus on serving others (doing good), the less I think about myself. I find satisfaction within the toil. A spirit of Gratitude and Joy replaces the depressions, weariness, and anxiety that once overcame my life.
Are there resentments in your life which need to be laid down?
What are you going to do that will help you to be properly grateful for the blessings in your life?
“The highest compliment we (I) can give to God, our creator, is to thoroughly enjoy the GIFT of life.”2
Raw, heartfelt and enlightening. Beautifully written and inspiring my friend. We are all blessed when we choose to take inventory and allow ourselves to being grateful … especially of those events and people that challenges us to be a better version of ourselves.
Service to others nurtures our souls while providing comfort to others. Thank you!
Debbie Turner says
Hi.. I worked with Nancy at Endy School, and we became good friends. Thank you so much for sharing. I needed to read this at this time in my life. Remembering what a gift life is takes conscious effort at times. We lost our daughter in an automobile accident a year ago November 12th. She was hit head on by an impaired driver. I have been particularly down this week as the anniversary of her death approaches, but reading your words has actually encouraged me. Thank you. I will continue to remember you and your family in my prayers as you enter the next phase of your battle with cancer. Thank you again for being willing to share your innermost thoughts and emotions. God bless you🙏🙏🙏.
Debbie, I am sorry for the pain of your loss. Thank you for sharing. Please know you and your family will be in my prayers. May we all experience the grace to find joy amidst the struggles of life.