I know that a lot of you could finish that verse without batting an eye. It is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It’s been on my mind a lot lately as to what it actually means. I mean, it sounds so nice, doesn’t it? I can do anything! I sure didn’t feel like this was true a few days ago.
Tuesday night, the night before surgery, I was a mess. I was crying at the drop of a hat and not able to pull myself together. My mom and sister had come with me to Philly to get my MRI (with news of a possible anneurysm looming over my head), and when we were done they dropped me off at my mother and father in laws house where Eric and the kids were . It was about 9pm at this point and the kids needed to get to bed. But I needed to be with them for a few minutes so they got a late bedtime that night. I just couldn’t help but break down at that point. I think I will always rememeber that moment as one of the most desperate and heartbreaking of my life. I knew I was saying goodbye for a couple days but there’s a part of you who wonders if it is your last goodbye, if this will be the last memory your kids have of you, if they even will remember you at all. I know, I know, a little dramatic, but it’s just how I felt. On the drive back to our house, Eric looks over at me, grabs my hand, and says, “you ready for this?” and I spoke what was in my heart, and I sobbed, “No. I’m not.” Here is where I felt the lowest so far. I felt so scared and alone (although obviously I wasn’t) but more than anything I knew I was defeated. I had to throw my hands up and admit that I didn’t have this. That I couldn’t do it. Eric, of course, was super encouraging, but I didn’t really want to hear it quite honestly. I just wanted to wallow in this for a while feeling like I “deserved” to feel like this.
Then we got to our house. I can’t even talk (or type, I guess) about this without tearing up. There had been a bunch of people from our church who had come while we were gone and prayed over our house about the surgery. And they left messages in chalk! There were amazing hope-filled messages written in chalk all over our sidewalk and driveway (which I got pictures of so I’ll never forget this)!! And the first one I see, “You can do all things through Christ!” Ok. Wow. You got this. Pull yourself together, woman!!
I can do it through Christ. Only through Him. There’s a popular saying, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” but a lot of people don’t realize that the end of that is “without Him”. I was trying to stay strong on my own and pulling on my own strength. But there wasn’t any more left. I had to rely on Him. And that’s when the peace came. And I didn’t cry any more (until after the surgery, but yo, surgery hurts!). Anyway, this is where I’ve understood this in a whole new way. To be quite honest, sometimes I believe God allows things to happen to us in order to break us. Because once we are at the bottom, we will look up. When things are going great, it’s easy to forget about God. As bad as that sounds, I think it’s true. As much as our lives are centered around ministry and following Christ, I do feel my faith had grown a bit stagnant. You know, you read the Bible every day, you do a devotional, you pray a few minutes, check it off your list, and keep going. This experience has deepened my faith a lot in that I can finally use God as the crutch He wants to be for us. I always chuckle to myself when I hear a nonbeliever say that people just use the idea of a god as a crutch because they aren’t strong enough to handle things on their own. Yup!!! And it’s not a sign of weakness, in my opinion at least. It takes a huge amount of humility and self-awareness to be able to rely on God in a culture that preaches independence and personal achievement. God has a better plan for us than we could ever dream of for ourselves and resting in his plan brings a joy and peace that is so far beyond understanding.
On the day of surgery, I woke up feeling really ready. My friend Beth texted me a verse that really hit me. It was Isaiah 43:2 and the first part says “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” I love that it says “when” not “if“. And the feeling of triumph and peace lasted all day – until I woke up of course. Then there was all kinds of painful and gross things going on. I’ll spare you that. But I did have another moment of “I can’t do this!” and Eric gently reminded me, “You don’t have a choice.” He was totally right and I needed to hear that. I understand now why people compare having cancer to a fight or a battle, it truly is. But we aren’t fighting alone. I’ve got a lot of amazing people in my corner and a God who never fails. Ever.
So, for my own personal journey, it took this experience to fully understand the verse “I can do all.things through Christ.” There are actually lots of verses that have been ministering to me through this and I will try to attach them to my next post. Thank you all for your prayers, cards, gifts, visits (even if some of you take awkward pics *cough* Sydney *cough* lol) and all the other ways you guys are helping. I realize this is just the first battle in my war on cancer, but I’m optimistic about the future and how God will work through this.