Who you are is not what you are going through.Boy! For I had a nickel every time I thought myself to be the product of my circumstances! All throughout my twenties (it started in my teens), I was plagued with the idea that what others thought of me and how I was meeting those expectations defined me. That's not a bad thing, but over a fifteen year period, I never pursued who I really was. Those circumstances I was in formed and shaped me, but what I realize now is that, while situations in my life certainly influence me; they do not make me who I am.
(That line above by the way is from the song "He Said" by Group 1 Crew and I heard it for the first time on KSBJ last week. You can view the full lyrics here.)
I tried desperately to find the post I wrote, I think towards the beginning of Sophia's treatment, where I said I didn't want to be know as the Mom of the girl who had cancer. I never wanted those circumstances to define our family - I never wanted cancer to say "Yep, this is it! This is you!" Even if the rest of the world thought that, I never wanted Natalie and Sophia thinking they were damaged because Sophia got cancer. My desire all along was to maintain and strengthen our family as a FAMILY PERIOD. Because, as my husband said yesterday,
A family is the most important thing across all aspects of life, the world, and the hereafter. If we fail at the one thing that matters most, then what good are we?This world likes to mess with us, and at times in big ways. I've said this before as well, but we thought we were strong as a family before Sophia got cancer. How we defined ourselves was put to the test.
It's true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but when you are first hit with something that rocks your little boat - it can really hurt. The wound created by the flaming arrows of our enemies, while they may not be as deep as they could be, we can still feel the burn.
Healing from seasons of trial and suffering takes time. Just like any flesh wound, you have to wait for your body to mend itself. But there is comfort in knowing that it is healing. Sophia, after her really intense chemo rounds, would get a shot of a medicine that would boost her bone marrow production. It was a kick start so she wouldn't have to be very susceptible to illness for very long. Like all good medicines, it had side-effects. This one caused her a lot of lower back and leg pain.
I never liked chemo because while it killed the cancer cells, it made her feel like such crap. But I liked this drug, even when it caused her pain. The pain was a sign she was healing and on the mend. It meant the medicine was working. But we couldn't rush it. We couldn't make it work any faster or her immunity to come back any sooner than her body could process. We couldn't rush the healing, it would come at the right time and then and only then.
When you take a shot to the jaw, or a big fall in your spiritual walk - when your values and beliefs are tested - you can't rush the healing; nor should you. It takes time and patience to process your emotions and to remember those situations don't define who you are. There is so much blessing in just being still, safe in The Father's arms, letting Him bandage our wounds and put a boo-boo bunny* on our bruises. Although most of us Christians want to rush past this point, to get back into service - we shouldn't or the healing will be incomplete.
It's in the middle of our brokenness where we learn what true worship is. Psalm 51:17 describes it perfectly:
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.Why do we want to give our broken hearts to The Lord? That's an easy one - so He can heal them. So He can make them new. I'm thinking about the families I pray for who are dealing with cancer. I'm thinking about my friend who went through hell with her oldest several summers ago. I'm thinking of my friend struggling to find an answer for her son's behavior issues and my friend who just lost her uncle. I'm thinking about all those people I know with physical, emotional and spiritual hurts. It doesn't matter how large or small we think they are, they are all important to The Lord.
The way to healing is always through brokenness.
In that space is where the comfort comes. It is where the healing begins and hope springs eternal. It is where the new creation can really be made new and you can remember who you really are - inside and outside your circumstances.
Don't seek to fly past the healing process to get on with life, you would be taking the cast off too early. Also, don't stay too long or you might prolong the restoration. It's like when they made me get up the same day I gave birth to Natalie and start walking around. That action let my body know it was time to get on the mend. If I would have stayed in bed longer, even though it hurt like hell to get up, I wouldn't have recovered fast enough to take care of my baby girl.
It is a fine balance - to know when to rest in His Arms and when to get up out of them. We have a limited understanding of our own hearts, so to know when the moment is right, we have to turn our faces to Him and His Word. We have to pursue the God of all peace and our Good Shepherd Who knows when His injured sheep is ready to rejoin the flock in the field.
No one can define who you are - only God can do that. And He can heal the hurts - even the ones that are scarred over and fading. Don't miss the joy in the healing because that is what you will take back into the field - the comfort and the confidence that He is there for you and He defines you!
(*a boo-boo bunny is a little ice pack, perfect for baby/toddler bumps. It's really cute, has ears and doesn't melt. I wish they made them in adult sizes....)