Today is my 42nd birthday. I've spent the past five weeks in a recliner......healing from my double mastectomy. I've pondered what I want life to look like on the other side of cancer. I've wondered how I'll be different. I've prayed for clarity and answers.
Hearing the words, "Christine, you have breast cancer", on January 9 rocked my world. A cancer diagnosis changes things. It changes dreams, hopes and plans. It changes what you consider to be important. It changes how you view life.
But, cancer isn't the only thing that brings about change. Many people face life altering events that create a shift in priorities: a job loss, a death of a loved one, an affair, a child who makes a really bad decision that impacts their future. None of us is immune to hardships. It's what we choose to do with these that matters.
In the midst of recovery and in honor of my 42nd birthday, here's what I'm learning. I hope it helps you in the midst of whatever hardship you may be facing.
1. Answers don't come on our timeline. As much as I wish I had clarity and an action plan on how to move forward and what to do with all that I've been through, I don't. But what I do have is trust that God will keep His promise in Romans 8:28. ..."all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
2. Hardships give us the opportunity to know God more intimately. Hardships show us that we really aren't in control as much as we think we are. You can do many things when life deals you a bad hand........ wallow, disengage, numb the pain with alcohol, food, etc. Or, you can press into God and discover who He is in your pain. I've spent many a sleepless nights praying through the pain. I've spent many days in the recliner searching scripture.
What I've discovered is that the same God who was with Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, Paul, Jesus.....is the God who is with me. He has a plan for me according to Jeremiah 29:11. In His presence is joy according to Psalm 16:11. I could go on but I encourage you to find out for yourself who He is in your pain.
3. Trust the process. My surgery and recovery hasn't been all that bad. Many have gone through much worse. For me, the hardest part is staying still. When you face a trial, the human response is to do whatever you can to move on and get the pain over with. But, at the end of the day, there is a process each of us must go through to heal properly (physically, spiritually and mentally). Miss any of this process and we suffer in the long run. I'm learning to trust that every day presents a new day to embrace what I'm going through and the learn something new.
4. Hardships give us the change to set new goals/priorities. What I consider a "win" to be for 2017 looks very different now than it did on January 1. I still don't have a full list of goals yet for the end of the year and that's OK. Every day, I think about priorities and what I really want them to be. As you face your trials and hardships, what goals will you set to get you on the other side?
So, as I turn 42, I am grateful for another year. I'm grateful that God's not done with me yet. I'm grateful that I have new adventures ahead of me and I don't need to know what they are yet!
What about you?
- Will you think about your birthday this year as a new opportunity to enjoy life?
- What hardship are you facing today that gives you the opportunity to seek who God is in the pain?
- Will you slow down enough to trust every step of the adventure you're on in this season?
- What do you want to sum up your year after your hardship/trial is over?