its day 56 of chemo treatment, start of week 12 of a new cycle.
a dozen eggs, a dozen donuts, a dozen chemo cycles…sure, why not?
although I long to update and reflect myelf back on today, on this 56th day of chemotherapy, the start of the closure of one dozen, I want to reflect backwards in time, in the days leading up to this one.
hit pause; let’s reverse.
I’m learning that, yes, I learn so much about myself, God, my relationship to God, my relationship with others inside the walls of the cancer floor, inside the time frame of chemo treatment week, but I also learn so much as well (even times at more) outside of this 11th hospital floor.
Interaction in conjunction with interaction, relationship connecting to relationship, I’m continuously valuing more and more my friendships with others and how they are the ones who consistently bring me in closer friendship with The Friend of our souls and hearts, Christ.
Yes, I value directly talking to Him through prayer and am so grateful that He longs to hear from me.
Yes, I value directly hearing from Him, His thoughts on eternal paper that has lasted hundreds, thousands of years here on earth and will continue to outlast into eternity.
But, I’m learning to see more and more that while the Lord does indeed call me to pray and read His Word to learn more deeply about Him, to relate to Him just in these one-on-one private moments alone in my prayer journal and sweet lavendar leather Bible, He also uses people for me to tangibly see Him.
Yes, see Him. It is so hard to relate to someone that you cannot tangibly see, to remember that yes, He is a Being, that yes, He is thinking about me and reaching out to me in this moment, and yes, He is present and not distant. I can’t ever physically feel His hands holding mine like my father’s hands on earth holds mine. I can’t ever physically look into His eyes and see the tears, the reassurance. I can’t listen and pick up His audiable voice amongst a crowd like I can my mama’s; it is such a quiet whisper in my heart that my soul hears that sometimes I am so uncertain that that was even Him who spoke it to me.
But I can see people. I can experience them, listen to them, know them, because they are so physical and present on this earth. And oh, each one of us can be vessels of Him Himself in each others lives: we are mere vessels. I’m so grateful that He knows humans so well, that we need physical and tangible assurance that He gives it to us through others. In fact, He uses that language in His word. Christians connected and relating to Christians are His Physical Body here on earth:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of Godand become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.15 …speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
The physical people, the church, are Christ’s body and representation on earth for the watching world and for each other. How often I forget that! And how often these verses affirm that to me! We are here to build up each other in faith, to increase our knowledge of Christ, to help one other become mature.
To increase our knowledge of Christ…that is help one another know God personally, deeply in new ways and waves of grace.
It’s one thing to read about those interactions, those possibilities of interactions as stated in His Word, but to see those physically, tangibly experienced in everyday life, in my relationships is so affirming. Interaction upon interaction, each like a new bullet point in God’s resume statement to me that yes, I am the only one for the job of fullfilling the desires of your heart and for ultimate relationship; do you believe me now? wow.
And not only do these interactions affirm, but they give.
You see, God has been using people in more and more ways and unique and critical times in order to hand me over more pieces of armor in this battle of the cancer-mindset.
I need every piece of armor He hands me (even when I didn’t even realize it at the time, or even recognize it as armor itself when it was initially handed over to me.)
I sometimes want to shake myself, at times laugh at myself, but overall receive and feel a deep gratitude and joy over when He drags me back again to His Word that reminds me how He has designed me, has designed us as relational beings who desperately need one another as we strive make gains in this invisible world of spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, spiritual relating to a seemingly invisible God.
2 corinthians 10
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
Oh yes, God has been sending, no, running it seems every co-solider it seems towards me to hand me another piece of insight-armor to prepare me for all of the thoughts that are going to come my way during chemo week.
Oh yes, that is grace.
During my time with Megs, we drink in the warmth of Starbucks, and I feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit spread as I listen to her insights and thoughts on striving to relate to others the way God has designed us. And the Holy Spirit also holding up a mirror to me, helping me to stare down my own thoughts that too go against His way of Love. I’m so grateful we are able to hold up our mirrors together Megs, not out of judgment, but out of desire to grow and learn together. And the ultimate insight-armor piece you hand me, powerfully, invisibly, without even realizing it: my time with you reminds me that this is why we live, this is our purpose: to help one another start and/or cultivate and grow our relationships with Christ (philippians 1:21-26) Oh, how it is so easy to forget this and let this joyful mission quickly slip away from your mind as you can’t even begin to think a thought without chemotherapy halting it in it’s place, with your body waning.
While out with Josh, he also unknowingly to him, provides me with another piece of insight-armor. He reminds me that no, I don’t look at you and think “cancer patient” and that no, others around you don’t either. He’s reminding me that my cancer, my treatment, the effects of treatment, the possible future effects of treatment are ultimately not who I am. Oh, how I so quickly run back to that identity though especially during treatment week. Sure, the thoughts are still there, like lie-weed roots that I can’t see on the “healthy” lawn-heart of my soul during my “chemo break weeks” but oh how chemotherapy is the ultimate fertilizer it seems to grow these weeds to be even taller than the last time I weeded. Oh soul, let your identity in Christ that is long-standing be your guard and defense, and the reminders like these to halt them.
Oh, I really truly could go on and on about how He provided more pieces of armor-insight through conversations with my fellow brothers and sisters (Jared at Jeni’s ice cream speaking deep truths and fellow comradry of our cancer-survivorship, both past and present; Roz in the late hour of our room bringing armor-encouragement to my soul, affirming that God indeed wants to use me…) and if I continued on, there would be no rest for me and yet a beautiful pile before myself and you of the armor-truths He gives us as a Good and Faithful Commander to us who knows all and knows all the upcoming battles we face, be it cancer, be it lies we believe about ourselves and others. He provides the gospel-armor of grace that surrounds.
As I’m looking at the pile of armor before us, I need to remind myself I have a choice. I need to remember to not just pile this all on the floor, but it has an ultimate purpose: to protect and defend me. I must will myself to wear/reflect and remember these moments as I put each on in faith.
Oh yes, please help remind me of that choice and to arm myself daily, daily.