Originally, I had a lot that I wanted to write about on this topic, but I've started to lose steam. I'll be brief--mostly because it's late (whoa, I'm so old, it's not even 10pm yet) and I'm exhausted from this loooonnnggg day.
What did I learn through this whole lumpy ordeal? Well, some of you might have picked up on a few of the convictions that were rocking my foundation. Here is some more processing about the situation and its aftermath--I hope it is an encouragement to you.
- surrender: it's a beautiful thing when you're able to let go of everything and be 'ok' with whatever happens. Even if that means dying, leaving China, being uncomfortable, getting surgery, missing out on the life you had always imagined experiencing....there's so many things to surrender--and should be surrendered on a daily basis. We hold on too tight, to things that aren't ours to begin with, and sometimes it takes situations like this to un-clench our fists and give ourselves over to God's sovereignty. It's a liberating experience and it's how I would like to live my life. At the risk of sounding dramatic, living like you're on the brink of death is a good way to slap things back into perspective and realign priorities. I had a tough time surrendering the most basic things, like my comfort, my earthly rewards, my plans. It all comes down to wanting control over my life--wanting to call the shots. This definitely is an idol in my life. One of my friends recently blogged about idols (look at Wil and Lylli's blog). She reminded me of how idols are things where we spend our thoughts/time, our money, and our emotions. I definitely spend a lot of thought/money/emotions on my marriage, my baby, and my play. I expect a lot out of all of them, and really--my happiness and personal contentedness is an idol. I often get most upset when what makes me 'happy' is threatened. I definitely had to re-evaluate these things during the lump episode. What makes me 'happy' isn't always what is best for my family, for my healthy, and for my relationship with others/God. I knew I might have to give up the play, but handing over the reigns was hard. I knew that ultimately, if I had to, I would be able to do it. There were plenty of accomplished people who could take over. The real kicker was missing the performances. The reward of seeing the hard work culminate in a performance, the reward of seeing students and audiences enjoy the show...the reward, the reward, the reward. I was having a hard time surrendering the reward. Same thing with Willow. Although, that goes a little deeper, and is definitely more painful to surrender. But it's possible, it's necessary, and it's how I should live--in complete surrender. The hard thing will be to let go/surrender even when times are fair.
- intercession: it is soooo powerful. Do not underestimate what God can do. The comfort of being able to have direct communication at any moment....it's profound. Prayer is so much about our relationship with God---but really, I find more and more that prayer is for US. Probably the biggest thing we can accomplish through prayer is the establishing of a personal relationship with the Lord. He doesn't need our prayers--they do not add to His power, and yet He listens intently to our hearts and answers when we stop to listen. Prayer knits the fabric of our lives to Him. On another note, there were so many people praying for me and with me. It is difficult to describe, how I felt their prayers. It is not so much the prayer that is powerful, but the One who is listening. The kids at the soccer tournament prayed for me, and really were so moved that their prayers were answered in the best possible way. Students who do not even believe were praying. They didn't know what to think afterwards--one boy who doesn't believe said, "I prayed because I didn't know what else to do. There must be SOMETHING out there because now everything is ok and she's better". If anything, maybe this experience was to plant some seeds in some seekers' hearts. The girls on Adam's team were so shocked by the news (that I was ok) that were was collective silence as they absorbed the news. Then one of the girls said, "thank you, Jesus". All my mini-moments of trauma are worth hearing stories like this--I hope that God will continue to be glorified through this lumpy story.
- anxiety: it isn't the opposite of faith, it's the absence of it. The 'what-ifs' are NOT my friends. But they follow me around everywhere! I had to be really intentional about countering them with Scripture and His promises to be with me unconditionally.
- not of this world: I've felt this before, just from the experience of living in China. Amassing earthly materials and being rooted too deeply in a physical location is not my priority. I want to live simply and not own much---which is hard when the world is so materialistic, and I don't want to be wasteful either. But, I was reminded that this world is not my home on an even deeper level. I was really thinking about how I could be storing my treasures in heaven where they will last forever. I was really thinking about HOW this could be done. I'm still working on that one. How to live with eternity in mind....? Was I 'OK' with leaving it all behind? Not just my possessions, but my commitments, my people, my priorities. I'm ok.
- miracles: they happen. You can explain anything, if you need to. Either I say that it was just a closed off milk duct all along (which is a possibility), or I can choose to believe that I was healed. I'm not all into healings/signs and wonders/miralces...But I do believe that they are possible, and even the SMALLEST miracle requires faith. For the skeptics out there, even if I wasn't 'healed' physically, I certainly learned a lot from this experience. In a sense, my spirit was healed as I moved closer to the heart of God. I like to imagine that as the director of the oncology department was performing the biopsy, God reached his hand down and zapped the tumor, turning it into milk. If he can turn water into wine...why not? lol. Really, that's the visual I have. I'm laying on the table with my eyes closed, and in the middle of the biopsy, ZAP. "Mei you le!" Whatever the case was, I want to give glory where glory is due! No cancer, no tumor, no lump, no surgery! Thank you, Jesus!
Why did this need to happen? I'm sure as time goes on, more will be revealed. I'm sure this story is not over yet, and maybe someday I'll know the big picture. Here are some of my gut responses.
- motherhood challenged....I've been talking/thinking/writing a lot (in that order, too) about how motherhood is not about the mom....or the kid...but about Christ and what He's done for us. I suppose these sentiments were put to the test. Are you willing to give up what you hold dear? Where do you draw the line with God? How much are you willing to give before you cry 'foul!'? The reality for believers is: there is no line. Give it all.
- faith questioned...what are you going to give in to? Unconditional love, unfailing promises, perfect peace? Or anxiety and a terrible case of the 'what-ifs'? These are great tools that the enemy can use to steal the joy of your salvation.
- goodness redefined...what does 'good' look like? Like my battle with idolizing happiness, I'm often confused by how God defines 'good'. Like that verse I was mulling over from Psalm 119, "God is good, He does good"....I kept wondering how this was good. Why does He allow suffering? Would my faith survive suffering? Would I be able to be content with whatever He willed? What about my family? How would this affect Willow? I realized, it's not my job to worry about what I would be able to do/not do in the face of suffering. I needed to trust in God's goodness--not that He wouldn't save me from all suffering--but that He would be with me and strengthening my spirit through suffering. As the body weakens, the spirit rejoices, because there is another reality other than this world. It is true and it is home. As for Willow--she is not mine to hold onto. I need trust God to care for her, apart from me, if anything were to happen. I know I can trust Him with all my deepest desires.
So, I wrote this a while ago, and forgot to post it. I think I was going to write more, but I can't remember where I was going with my thoughts. Rather than try to rehash everything, I'm going to hit the publish button. Thanks for joining me on this journey.
In case my lengthy posts haven't been concise enough (they ramble): no tumor, no cancer, no lump, no surgery!