I am, as of today, done with my personal 40 days of prayer. Remember that? If you messaged me or reached out to me in any way, or if I just saw that you had a need, I added you to my list that ended up being a whole page front and back with two columns. That’s a lot of needs!! But, as always, God not only worked in the situations of the people (I know of some, but would love to hear if I haven’t already heard!) but worked in my life and taught me a lot about myself and my situation.
It was just a few days into this endeavor that my brain tumor was discovered and I got bumped to stage 4. I will admit, even though I did still pray every day, there were days where I only had the strength (or maybe only had the desire, if we’re being honest) to touch the pages and ask God to work in the situations without naming each one. I’m pretty sure God knew exactly who I meant and what my heart was, I just felt better when I could name each one individually as that reminds me of what people are going through.
I learned a few things in this process:
-Prayer is as much for us as it is for God. God knows what we and our friends and family are facing, but what He needs to know is how much we care about those people and are willing to approach the throne on their behalf. I think some of our “problems” could be fixed with a perspective change and the softening of our hearts to the problems that others are facing. This can be done through prayer, service to others, or just reaching out to someone when God lays them on our hearts. Trust me, we have received all of these recently and it makes a huge difference!
-We are never “need free”. People told me that they felt guilty that I was praying for them. I could see how people would feel like this, but in a way, it was nice to remember that I am not the only one with problems. I need this reminder sometimes as it’s easy to get caught up in the struggles of this cancer thing. But I was reminded in a big way that it’s harder to be self-focused when you are purposefully focused on others and how God might use you to touch them – figuratively lol. I still struggle with being self-centered, but God is still working and as long as I am a willing participant, I know He can help me change that.
-I am not as faithful as I thought I was. There were days where I would almost forget to remember my friends in prayer! Almost, but still! I take promises very seriously and was disappointed in myself for not always remembering right away to do this. It made me think of Peter in John 13:36-38 (NLT):
36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”
And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”
37 “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”
38 Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
Peter seriously believed that his faith was so strong that he was ready to DIE for Jesus. But, when push came to shove, not only was he not willing to die for Him, he denied even knowing Jesus. Sheesh, after all they’d been though! This just got me thinking about how, until we are tested, we really, really don’t know how we will react. I thought I was prepared mentally for the progression of my cancer, but boy was I wrong!! I was absolutely sure I could take it in stride but turns out it took a whole lot of seeking to get to a place where I felt like God still had my back. I think if it hadn’t been for the fact that I promised people I would pray for them daily, that there would have probably been a week or two in there where I wouldn’t have prayed at all. But forcing myself to continue allowed me to open up my heart again to God and I’m really grateful for that. It kept me reading my Bible, and seeking, and doing devotions, and all that. And now I feel so close to Him that I sometimes feel like I can feel Jesus right next to me. I know that probably sounds crazy to some people, but it just helped me to realize how much He really does care for us. I needed that time of praying for others to change my prespective from self-focused to others-focused.
-I am not as tough as I thought I was. I feel that I have, at least for now, jumped the emotional hurdles and have come to a place of acceptance, ready to keep spreading my message. I am not so sure I’m ready for all the physical difficulties that lie ahead. I’m kind of a wuss in that department, quite honestly. I found that out for certain over these last 40 days where my physical state has deteriorated quite a bit, with the realization that this is how it’s expected to continue. My brain tumor was of course found, that causes issues with my vision and a wicked pressure in my head that has varying degrees of severity. It seems like at least once a day though it gets so intense that I need to take ibuprofen and lay down. This usually helps, which I’m grateful for, but sure is a change from before. I can’t drive because of the seizures, but luckily I haven’t had any seizures for several weeks, so that’s awesome. My vision seems to be getting worse in my right eye. I have no clue why. It’s a little compromised already in my left eye, but we know that that’s because the tumor is nestled in my right occipital lobe, so vision changes in my left eye are expected. It scares me to think about the reasons my right eye might be affected at this point. I tire easily and mentally, I feel like I can’t filter out distractions the way that I could before. My mind gets very easily overstimulated. I assume this is still a side effect from the cut off of oxygen during the seizures, but who knows?? And on top of it all I think my sweet little boy shared his stomach bug with me (that’s why, dear church family, you did not see us today). I don’t say all this to make people feel bad for me, there’s actually a few other things that I didn’t mention, I am just fearful for when things might get worse. I completely understand Paul though when he says,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Just read through that a few times. Paul, of all people, didn’t have problems that were “light”. The dude was imprisoned, starved, beaten, and persecuted his whole Christian life. It’s all about perspective. We are no different than Paul if we are in Christ, and if Christ is enough to sustain him, then He should be enough to sustain us. I have a feeling I will be leaning on these verses very heavily for the rest of my time here.
I apologize, I realize this is getting long, but congrats! You almost made it to the end! Haha. I realized that music has been very helpful in minstering to me throughout this whole ordeal, so I’m going to try to remember to post a link to a song that has been helpful to me at the end of every blog. Today’s is “You Are The Lord” by Tim Reimherr. This song randomly played once on my Hillsong Pandora station and I immediately found it on youtube and I think I’ve listened to it approximately 91,643 times since.
Personally, the songs that help me the most are the ones that remind me of who God is, not necessarily what He can do for us. Reminding ourselves over and over how powerful He is and His sacrifice and love for us is usually how I choose to worship. Don’t get me wrong, I like some songs that speak to our situations as well (Mandisa’s “Overcomer”!), but I typically choose to worship to songs that speak to who He is. This is a GREAT song that has helped me remember that. Doesn’t hurt that it’s a well-constructed song that’s pretty catchy.
Tim Reimherr “You Are the Lord”
And since it’s become an anthem around our house (my son asks to listen to the “Stopsign Song” haha), here’s Mandisa’s “Overcomer”. It’s an awesome, uplifting song and the video shows people like Robin Roberts and Gabrielle Giffords overcoming their struggles. If you’re going through something, give it a watch, you will feel ready to FIGHT!!