Fighting Blind in Brokenness
This blog has been harder to write than any other even though THE best news possible was delivered last Thursday. The chemo has completely eradicated the tumor! All I can do is give God praise!! All this awful, hard work has paid off and HOTY and I couldn’t be happier or more relieved. Surprisingly it took some time for this extraordinarily incredible news to move from my ears to my heart as it felt like I was waiting for the “just kidding” to drop. I have had so much hard news lately that I just couldn’t quite believe the remarkably good news I was hearing. My reaction was hours delayed as those around me had to keep reiterating that the tumor was gone and this is a very good thing. What an incredible answer to prayer!
I still have to finish the six rounds of chemo – with only two more to go! Chemo number five starts today. I still have to have a lumpectomy to remove the dead cancer cells, to make sure there are no live cancer cells, and to check the lymph nodes at the same time. And I still have to do the radiation. There is still a lot of work ahead, but I am so glad to know that it is working – this is the beauty (if you can call it that) of leaving the tumor in while doing the chemo, we get proof upfront. I am pretty sure my slowness to being ecstatic, like everyone else around me, was due to my dulled chemo brain and the knowledge that there is still more to go, but my brain is catching up and my thankfulness is definitely rising up.
After meeting with the UCLA oncologist, HOTY says it is pretty amazing that they can flood your body with chemicals and a tumor disappears, I wonder what else is now missing — besides your hair? Fighting the unseen and un-feel-able is a mysterious battle. The doctors know what they are fighting, but they can’t just target the single tumor. They fight the entire cellular structure of my body and even in the year 2018 it is still a pretty blind battle. The only one that really knows what’s going on is the creator of my life and He’s the only one I can give credit to for taking the tumor away as I wasn’t even sure it was possible at this point.
Have you ever prayed without knowing really what you are praying for or against? I have felt this same stance before as I have prayed over my kids. As a blind-folded warrior, my sword is thrashing about back and forth hoping I hit the enemy. I know I am fighting an enemy, but I can’t see the enemy, yet I know I have to fight. Those earnest prayers seem weak and feeble and less than they should when approaching the throne room of the King, but I believe those are still the prayers God wants from us. The half prayed prayers because you don’t even know how to ask for the rest. The prayers where all you can do is list out the names of God because your mouth can’t articulate what is needed. So much of the time my prayers are like an old pinball game – every time the ball hits something it switches gears. It is then that I have to remind myself that the creator of the universe doesn’t have to be told how to fight the battle. He wants a love relationship with me and values my open heart and the time I spend focused on Him. He sees the unseen and none of it catches Him by surprise. My prayers do not have to be eloquent to reach the heart of my Heavenly Father, and most of the time (especially lately) they are groans and mumblings as if in conversation to a friend and not a King. I have found that I have to look for thankfulness rather than pleading my case, especially when I really don’t know what my case is.
I have felt more broken during this past round of chemo. They say there is a cumulative effect of chemo and I believe I have hit that point. I feel weak all the time, much less energy even in the good days. I can’t remember things and can’t focus very well. I just feel broken. Having always been a super multi-task, project oriented person, I am definitely missing a few gears and the nuts and bolts that make them go. The chemo is removing parts of me that I need and the brokenness is working its way to the surface. I have always been pretty self sufficient, running multiple businesses with HOTY, and juggling many things at once. I am in a different reality now. A place that makes it hard to gather my thoughts, remember them, and then act on them. Just broken.
In many ways it is a good place for me to be and I am sure the Lord has a plan for me even in this place. I come from a long line of very hard working women – “Can-do-it-women.” They are the real feminists, who didn’t fight about their rights, but just hunkered down and did the work they needed to do. The women in my family made their way in this country by owning their own businesses and never believed there was anything holding them back. I get my tenacity from them. That is probably why I have such a hard time with the modern feminist movement and why this brokenness is so difficult for me to rest in – but that is probably a story for a different blog post. Right now I can hardly cook without burning myself or cut fruit without slicing open my finger!
I have spent much of the past four to five years in an emotional broken state over multiple family issues. Ya know that feeling where your heart is broken and just takes time to heal? It’s that place where you know you just can’t handle any other bad news. I got to the point where I teasingly told my friends they might not want to be my friend any more because people I know keep dying and emotional crisis keeps swirling around my family. Of course I was kidding because I need my friends, more than ever. Cancer knocks it up to a whole new level. A good friend of mine has encouraged me to write a book called, “But of Course!” because the events in my life for the past four to five years seem staggering to most and would devastate most families, if they didn’t have God holding them together through it.
Brokenness means I can’t do it alone. Brokenness means I need others. Brokenness means I need my Lord. Brokenness could lead me to despair and helplessness, but all I can think about is how Jesus was broken because of me. That He willing went to the cross to be broken for my sin, and yet not a bone of His was broken. I think we need times of brokenness in our lives to get a glimpse of what our savior did for us. This brokenness and weakness also allows God to use me in ways that He never could when I was so self-sufficient. I am learning how to rest in this brokenness, even though it is probably the hardest thing I’ve done. I need more of Him and less of me.
I go into chemo today knowing that is working. I am so thankful and yet dreading another round. Such a strange dichotomy of emotions. I don’t have to hope that it is working because I have the hard facts that it is. I am thankful though for the weakness and brokenness, which is such a strange thing to be thankful for. But I have been given a promise that He will make me strong. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul was suffering greatly. We don’t know if it was an emotional or physical pain but he pleaded with the Lord many times to take it away and the Lord didn’t. The Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul gets it! He switches up his mindset to rejoice about his weakness instead of sitting in despair about it. He goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
That is my desire and it is a choice I have to make to be thankful and even rejoice in this weak brokenness, knowing that God will use my weakness as He needs and that His power is greater in my weakness. There is no other place I’d rather be, even today walking in for chemo infusion number 5.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18