Sweating Drops of Blood

Today the phone rang and it was the nurse.  She wanted to come change my dressing today instead of tomorrow because the more days in between the more pain there is.  I was all for it, while at the same time being against it.  I went into the panic/meltdown mode that I have been living in lately.  I took all my pain medicine that is supposed to help me.  I cried and had trouble breathing as I waited for my pain to arrive.  Somehow the anticipation of pain is bigger than the pain itself.  Bill played the piano over me.  That brought me peace and I was able to take deep breaths once again.  As I tried to rest while waiting on my agony this passage from Luke came to mind.

 

He began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Going a little further he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me…yet not as I will, buy as you will.”  An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

 

I understand this passage a little better now.  I was sweating (not blood) as I knew the pain that awaited me.  I knew there was no way around it.  I even asked God to let this cup pass from me…but he didn’t. I felt a small part of the anguish and sorrow he must have felt.  I am relieved that I have a savior that has felt everything I will ever go through…even pain.

 Again I am reminded of Christ’s love for me.  He was in anguish because he knew the pain and torture that was to come. He knew the rejection and the physical beatings.  I cannot imagine the depth of the pain he felt.  He chose to face it because he also knew the end result would be intimate fellowship with me….with all of us.  He thought it was worth it…I was worth it.

In the end today, I was blessed.  The Vaseline gauze worked and the foam was removed fairly easily.  Some pain but very little and I have hope that it will continue to be as easy now that we have found the trick.  I am still somewhat nervous for next time because it is always tender.  But God moved today on my behalf.  He knew how much I could take and he did not require more.

Pain

        Here I am with all the pain that I can stand, actually more than I can stand.  I am wondering at the purpose of this kind of pain in my journey.  To me it seems torture but I am trying to look beyond that most surface level. If you have read my writing at all you know that I see spiritual principles in natural events, like a metaphor.  I am looking at this wound and how it broke open and must now heal from the inside out and I am seeing a broader principle in action.  If we have a wounded heart, (I believe that we all do whether it is our emotional, physical or spiritual heart) what can this pain of mine teach. 

        First of all, ignoring it is impossible.  You and I have both known people (and possibly been people) that have tried to ignore the gaping hole in their hearts.  The world doesn’t realize how much that kind of wound shows and how serious it is. It doesn’t matter if it is a lack of salvation or some life trauma, the wound shows even when we don’t think it does. 

        Second, a band aid won’t work. It isn’t a surface scratch.  It is deep and therefore significantly affects other areas of life.  We try to work around it but it is useless. Simply covering this open wound is an invitation to infection.  If it gets infected it will fester and affect every part of your body…or in this case your spirit.

        Third, you have to be aware of this wound.  It hurts but will become even bigger if ignored.  This includes emotional wounds as well as spiritual, and usually those two are connected. If it has been ignored for years, when it breaks open it is a surprise.  The urgency becomes obvious as the pain increases.  Everything in your life stops suddenly as you frantically try to attend the problem area.

        Fourth, it has to heal from the inside out.  This is a big one for me.  I cannot simply sew this hole up.  It will not heal properly.  Now that it is open I have to wait and let it heal fully from the inside.  That is true of all kinds of hurts. If pain is deep it has to be healed deep.  To fight that healing is to ask for trouble.  But sometimes, to invite new growth old dead tissue has to be removed.  This is my torture…and so it is with other types of wounds as well. We don’t want to go into the depth and the removal of the junk because that is where the big, really bad pain is.  We want to quit, and avoid it at all costs. I can personally vouch for that.  It is hard to look at past hurts; a bad divorce, childhood abuse, a terrible disease, a death of a loved one, the list goes on and on.   Getting through the trauma or hurt can seem like a slow and painful process but in the end the healing that is gained will be worth it. 

        Christ is familiar with pain.  That is why he is so powerful in our healing process.  He knows every tear I have shed.  He has not abandoned me and he will not. Philippians 3:10 says “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain resurrection from the dead.”  I am waiting on the resurrection part of this passage.

        My pain also gives me a huge teary eyed feeling of what the Lord suffered.  I have one nerve exposed and I am at the end.  How much more did he endure for me.  That cannot be understated to me right now.  He suffered more pain that I am in...all for me...because of his love.  I cannot comprehend how much love that must be. If I could take myself out of this healing process I would do it in a heartbeat...but he could take himself out and didn't.  That speaks volumes to me on this day!

 Once my healing is complete I will have more compassion for others.  I look through new eyes to those around me that are in crisis. I am gaining a new perspective on people that are suffering.  I look at the pictures on TV of the people in the bombings and wonder how they get through it.  What I am going through is in my nice air conditioned house with my supportive friends right along side.  They are blown away in the streets in total chaos. Things could be worse for me.  They can always be worse and it helps to remember that in the darkest moments with the most pain. So even from my chair I am learning and growing and healing.  God is very much in the process and he is softening my heart to form it more like his own.  Now if I can just get through it!

 

 

More complications

I have had a reaction to the wonderful tape they use to hold my incision together.  I am broken out and hurting.  The nurse came today to make sure I wasn't infected...the incision is good the skin is bad.  She removed the foam again and the gause that was supposed to make things easier only covered the bottom of the incision so the sides were still stuck.  She decided to pull it all at once...I can tell you this, I cannot do that again.  It was more pain than I ever remember.  I scared my kids to death with a blood curtling scream that lasted five minutes.  This is hard.  I cannot do it again.  I told the nurse that.  She said she would cover it all the way this time and we will see next time how things are.  So I have until Wednesday...  Any prayer for miracles is welcome.

My Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Today my soul was restored and it brought me to one of my favorite passages.  Psalm 23 is something I memorized as a child.  I have always loved it even though I hadn't really thought about the words in a while.  But today some dear friends came and they restored my soul.  Prayer and worship among friends is always sweet, but somehow it was deeper than sweet this time.  I shall not want...I will lie down in green pastures...I will walk beside still waters (no coeincedence that is may email address).  I feel fresh and ready for the next thing that may come into my life.  I am at peace and restored.  Some fears were faced, some released, some healing recieved.  I will chew over this day for a while to come but right now I am resting in the afterglow of peace that remains.

Melt Down

Today I had a meltdown.  I am tired of people hurting me and I just couldn't do it anymore.  The nurse was great.  She worked slow and easy waiting anytime I needed it.  But I just am tired of it all.  I don't want to have cancer anymore.  I don't want to have anymore operations.  I don't want to have my guts pulled out again on Monday.  My emotional state went out of control.  I guess I have known that things were out of control since the beginning of this journey but today my emotions caught up with that in a huge way.  I couldn't stop the wailing or the tears. 

 My husband is my hero.  He was a trooper to a babbling wife with tears streaming and no end in sight...he just held me.  It was so much like what God does in these moments that I was amazed.  We all know that Bill is funny and has a whacky sense of humor.  He is talented with music like nobody I know, but today I remembered the main reason I love him so much.  This sensitive side of him that most people don't get to see is right what I need when I need it.  Most men I know would run from these kind of tears...or maybe call  their wife a woman friend to talk to.  Bill knew what I needed.  He knew there weren't words to fix it.  He knows me, like nobody else...at the deepest place. There is a powerful bond between us. I needed that kind of unconditional love today and he was there for me.  Only God knows me better. I am grateful for my husband! 

Daily Report

I have no great insights today...I was out of the house for the first time and it was wonderful!  I went to visit my friends at school and did some back to school shopping, courtesy of the Governor's teacher $100 cash gift.  It was exhausting but fun.  It was just good to see my friends face to face.  I will be sleeping well tonight!  Tomorrow I get tortured again...so if you can pray it would be a big help.

My Window to the World

My world is limited these days.  I haven’t been out of the house for two weeks except to go to the ER for a urinary tract infection.  Yeah!  So I sit here in this room…my throne room… surrounded by cards from well-wishers and flowers from loved ones.  There are bottles of medicine of all kinds right by my side so I can reach them.  A Willow Tree Angel of Good Health, arms full of apples, watches over my recliner from a nearby table.  My T.V. tray is covered with the remote, my cell phone, my cordless phone and my laptop.  What would I do without all that technology?  At meal time it takes me five minutes to clear the table to eat.  The incision torture machine is on the floor reminding me with gurgling noises that the tube that connects me to it is still flowing.  A special red heart declaring peace and shalom rests in constant view to remind me of the love of my mother and our shared pain.  The T.V. is on to show me what is happening around the world and to remind me that lives continue on while mine is standing still. This is my window, my view from the chair.  I am reclining, the only comfortable position, and thinking, watching and feeling everything around me.  I am napping much of the time and surfing the rest.  I cannot say it is fun here, but I am getting rest which is something I have had very little of the last few years…that is the bright side.  I am letting those around me take care of me.  I am treated like a queen in my throne room.

 I was reading in Mark 2 when Jesus healed the paralytic.  It is a great story about the crowds that came to watch and hear Jesus. In the parallel passage in Luke 5 it says “the power of the Lord was with him to heal the sick.”  The Pharisees came to check this out.  I guess they were worried.   It was so crowded people couldn’t get in to see him.  In the midst of this crowd along come some men carrying a paralytic.  They realized there was no getting through the crowd so they went up on the roof and lowered the man down right in front of Jesus.  You may already know this story, Jesus says “your sins are forgiven” then, after a discussion with the Pharisees he says “get up, take your mat, and go home.”  The man walks away…healed and God is praised. 

There is so much in this short passage but the thing that stood out to me was how incredible the friends were that took the man to the feet of Jesus.  They knew this man couldn’t get there on himself.  He was paralyzed, no walking, no moving on his own strength.  All he could do was let his friends carry him.  I bet you can see why this passage stands out to me at this particular time.  I am paralyzed.  A couple of weeks ago fear had me totally immobilized and now my physical condition has me stuck in this chair.  But I have friends that carry me.  They have great faith and they are not afraid to lower me down to the feet of Jesus because they know what he can do.  Crowds cannot stop their determined steps.  Pharisees will not hinder their requests to God.  They know the “power of the Lord is with him to heal.”  They are my hands and feet when I have nothing to raise me up.

 I can sit here on my mat and be treated like a queen knowing that my King is hearing their cries on my behalf.  I trust that mine sins can and will be forgiven just as the man in the story.  And I pray that he will hasten the day when he says get up, take up your mat and go home.  Right now I am on this mat watching all of my friends carry me and I am amazed.  I am humbled that they would go to this extreme for me.  Each one expresses God’s heart for me in his/her own unique way and with his/her own unique gifts.  I am loved.  I am carried.  Thank you my dear friends.

Courage

Courage is an interesting word.  I used to think of is as the absence of fear but now I know it is moving on despite your fears.  Fear doesn’t mean a lack of faith, on the contrary…when you are afraid it requires more faith- more trust- more surrender.  When you are afraid, faith is harder but it is in the difficulty that strength is built.  The difficulty is what shows us where we are weak…it is only then that he can make us strong in Him, not in ourselves.

 In this journey, cancer is not as much the culprit of my fear, though it is pretty high up there…it is being real with the fear that is hard.  Feeling so out of control and realizing that my very life is not mine to decide.  It is a fear of what God may allow.  We all know that God doesn’t always do things our way as much as we pray for what we want.  We have all known those that deserved better than what they got in life and that is the rub.  That is what scares me in this journey.  What if his outcome is different than mine?  Can I still walk through this if healing isn’t his choice for me?   I have hope.  That is a Christian’s secret weapon…that is the reason we choose to give up our freedom and become his servants.  We trust that he knows what is better for us than we do.

 But when disaster strikes in one way or another do we really believe that?  This is where the wrestling with our faith begins.  This is the heart of it all.  This is our secret fear revealed by one word from a doctor.  My cover is blown, all the dark thoughts that make up my hidden fears are out for all to see.  And so my choice is to hide even those fears or to live them out in a transparent form.  God says to my heart, “Can you be transparent?  Can you live out your weakness and let others in to see me hold you up?  In your weakness I will show myself strong.”  And so there are no secrets in this journey.  No hiding.  Tears ran freely and still do.  There are no apologies for my tears.  It hurts and they are real.  And in my tears…he is there, holding me close knowing the ending that I cannot see.  I choose to trust.

The Starting Place

            Many people have told me to write during my journey...but more importantly God has told me.  My first lesson is in transparency.  How do I go through finding cancer and facing fear head on while being real and transparent with my friends and family?  I had the option from the very beginning to hide some of the truth from everyone.  I had to make a concious choice to "tell all" and to share the tears and know that "in my weakness He will be strong."  So here I am with my own blog of my journey through the refiner's fire once again.  I hope to come out on the other side with the golden nuggets that are purified by fire.  I hope you share my journey with the joy and heartache that are part of it.   M.