Five Minute Friday: Reflect

2014

Gentle Reader,

Jumping right in. Kate asks us to: reflect.

Go.

I’ve got the biggest scar of them all.

Tomorrow marks one year since I became my own Discovery Channel. The surgeon sliced me open and stuck a jack underneath my ribs. Yes, you read that right. A jack. Cranked the whole set up and out of the way so he could spend five hours carefully cutting out the golf ball-sized tumor that was pressed against my diaphragm, making every breath tedious and painful. At least I thought the tumor made breathing painful.

Janky ribs? Way worse.

Certain sections of my scar still hurt sometimes. I think its affected by barometric pressure. Someday I might be able to tell you when rain is coming. Other sections, and the surrounding area, I can’t feel. The nerves are dead and may never come back. Incredibly weird sensation. (Or rather, lack thereof).

The little round scar, I call that my bullet hole. That’s where the drain was. Cripe o’Friday, having that thing removed hurt like a son of something unholy. The surgeon actually braced himself before he pulled. And had the nerve to tell me, “Oh, this won’t be so bad.”

Right.

There are other marks, but only I notice them anymore. One on my back, where the fabulous spinal block kept me from feeling the first and most intense pain. One on my neck, where they plunged a central line straight into the jugular vein.

The journey isn’t over for me. Just this week I’ve been going rounds with headaches, dizziness and nausea. Don’t mess with the liver, man. Just don’t. It will slap your face. Dark circles rim my eyes from lack of sleep. I don’t have much of an appetite yet am as bloated as if I’ve eaten far too much. I could happily glare at and say something snarky to the size six girls who “feel fat.” Probably wouldn’t even feel the slightest guilt about it.

I don’t have perfect skin. I don’t have a flat belly.

You know what else I don’t have?

A tumor.

There are not words enough in the dictionary for me to express my deep gratitude to the Lord for seeing me through this valley. He has been faithful when I have cried and raged and sulked and slipped into despair. He has spoken words of tender encouragement. Smacked me upside the head when necessary. This road seems endless and full of far too many twists. It is bearable because of Him. His goodness, His grace.

I praise Him. I love Him.

And I thank Him for giving me a sense of humor when I saw a few too many man butts as I lapped around the surgical floor, outpaced by slugs as I dragged poles and walkers in my wake.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

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Satan Doesn’t Play Fair

Gentle Reader,

In fact, he loves to hit us when we’re down.

Satan doesn’t want to just knock us to the ground, you see. He wants to drive us into it. He wants to break our spirits. Coat our minds in lies. Wound our hearts so every beat is unbearably painful. He finds our vulnerable places and grinds his heel into them, laughing as we writhe.

This has been my experience across several weeks. I am simply worn out. Two surgeries, six weeks apart, have done a number on my body. Yes, I am healing, but it’s not a quick healing. It’s not an easy healing. I’m battling insomnia. I can’t seem to get caught up on anything at work. I’m on the “wash, rinse, repeat” cycle of pain and exhaustion.

Makes me crabby. Also heightens my sense of anxiety.

So the stupid Devil has been punching me. He whispers negativity into my soul. Tempts me to despair.

He doesn’t play fair.

Thankfully, God doesn’t play fair, either.

That’s the beautiful thing about being a believer: We who have trusted Christ have the very Spirit of the Living Lord dwelling inside of us. He comes in and makes Himself right at home. Just think about that for a second. God, who made all of creation just by speaking. God, who knows the names of all the stars. God, who exists entirely outside of time and so knows the end from the beginning. God, who got up and walked out of the tomb unaided.

He lives inside of you and me.

Talk about stacking the odds! That old Serpent doesn’t stand a chance. He can keep on punching and kicking. He can get a few licks in. But the nanosecond we cry out, even whisper, for help, he’s done for. The Spirit blasts him out of the scene. The Spirit pours out comfort, guidance and strength upon us so that we can get up and move forward, hand tucked safely in His.

Perhaps you’ve got the taste of dirt in your mouth today, as I do. Perhaps your face is streaked with sweat and tears. Perhaps you’re bloodied and bruised, the shield of your faith knocked to one side. You’re feeling weak, lost, helpless. Dear one, ask. Ask God for help.

He will grant it and then some.

My journey to faith. (15)

The Life and Death Brigade

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Gentle Reader,

Many thanks to the secretive Ivy League club and “Gilmore Girls” for the title.

I’m going to get heat for writing this. I know it as I type.

Brittany Maynard was wrong to end her life.

Cue explosions and much hand-wringing.

I am NOT saying that Maynard is in Hell. I have absolutely no idea about that. I am NOT saying that she was an evil person. I never met her. It hardcore sucks that she was dealt such a blow so early in life. What her family has had to deal with since the diagnosis is terrible. I am acutely aware that there are real people who are hurting and grieving. I don’t at all wish to throw mud at anyone.

What I want to talk about here today has nothing to do with this specific person or this specific family, but rather the more nebulous realm of the topic itself. I’m talking about suicide. Dress it up with the phrase “death with dignity” if you want, but the result is the same. Death.

It’s wrong.

I can say that. I can say that because I took steps along that path. I decided that I no longer wanted to live. My pain was too great. I thought that it would be better for those around me if I were gone.

I can also say that because an hour ago I was told that I have a tumor in my liver. Benign, praise God, but a tumor nonetheless. I’ll have to have major surgery. I don’t know what that is going to be like. I don’t know how difficult or long recovery will be. This will impact the rest of my life.

I hear the objections, things about apples and oranges and how dare I judge. But here’s the thing, and I believe it’s a thing that all Christians must address in the debate over “death with dignity”: Who is in control? Who is in charge? It leaves me staggering that the answer of many who claim Christ as Lord is so ill-defined.

It is my firm conviction that a follower of Christ must trust Him in all things. Of course, that’s a process. We’ve all always got room to grow. It is also my firm conviction that a follower of Christ does not, in any way, have the right to end the life of another human being. I stand resolutely in the pacifist camp, opposing all forms of violent action from abortion to war.

Nor do we have the right to end our own lives. I oppose suicide. I don’t care if it’s physician-assisted (which opens up a whole can of worms when one considers the Hippocratic Oath) or not. I believe that God has a good, unique plan for every single person – and that He alone is the determiner of life’s span. I believe that He is ready and willing to give us grace and strength for every situation, for every pain, for every sorrow, for every valley. Far sturdier than any umbrella, He will provide shelter in every storm.

This should be the witness of every Christian. Trust me, I know what a difficult witness it is. I know how easily and how quickly tortuous doubt descends. I know how overwhelming sudden loss, unexpected diagnosis and change of finances can be. Yet God has not failed me once. Not once. Things have not always turned out as I hoped or expected, sure. But He has always been there, always truthful, always faithful, always more and better than I could hope for or imagine.

I don’t know what you’re dealing with today. I don’t know how you’re being tried or tempted. Please, dear one, turn to the Lord. Seek His wisdom, His peace, His comfort. That is the way of life.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute (I Can’t Seem to Do This On) Friday: Hold

 

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Gentle Reader,

Timer’s set. Kate’s hosting. We: hold.

Go.

Hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace? – Rich Mullins

The closer I get to the appointment with the liver specialist, the more scared I get. There’s no way for me to anticipate what’s going to happen when I’m in that examination room, rustling the paper on the squeaking, sticky plastic mattress. I don’t know how long I’ll be in there. I don’t know what he’ll say to me. I don’t know what kind of tests he’ll order.

I don’t know where all of this is going to lead.

That’s frightening.

What I wish I could somehow explain is that my faith is not any less because my fears increase. Chris and I talked about this the other day, and I told him that, sometimes, faith looks like a grim, gritted-teeth determination. There isn’t any attached emotion. Sometimes faith gets boiled down to the bottom line of commitment. It doesn’t feel nice or wonderful. Yet neither does it quit.

I won’t quit.

But I will beg Jesus to hold me, to calm my soul. And I’ll ask Him to enable me to hold on.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)