Dear friends of mine,
It’s May. My trees outside in my view are full of beautiful and fragrant blossoms. It is a beautiful day.
I last posted on February 21st. That was the day before surgery. I had “made it” and was feeling relief. I was sure the next part would be easy compared to what I had experienced. Here I am over two months later. I’ve written “Tender Mercies 4 1/2” and “Tender Mercies 4 3/4” and “Tender Mercies 5″…but they’ll stay in my personal files, at least for now. It’s hard to say why I have had a hard time posting since the surgery. I can say for certain that I have felt more tender mercies, not less, during these last several weeks. I haven’t lost hope, and I have a lot to say. For now, I’ll share a few musings and see if I can get back in the saddle…
Have you heard the analogy by C.S. Lewis comparing us to a little cottage? Here it is:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
I love that so much. It’s very similar to the analogy I shared on here earlier about the Provo Tabernacle being burned and charred and then was transformed into a temple. You probably can guess which part I have REALLY been able to relate to: “He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense.” Oh man, friends, that’s the road I’ve been walking. It has hurt abominably- physically, mentally, emotionally- all of it. Mercifully, I am healing. Each week I get a little stronger, feel a little more like myself, feel more up to the responsibilities in front of me. But the road has felt long and steep.
I heard a Ted talk the other day that said “Suffering can break you, or break you open.” If it breaks you, you will have a tendency to pull inward, pull back, and feel that the world is a less safe place to be. If it breaks you open you become better at connecting with people, warmer, more connected, and less guarded. I have loved thinking about that idea this week, and to the degree I can choose, I want this suffering I have experienced to break me wide open; open so I can feel closer relationships, so I can help others heal from similar challenges, and so that I can be more gentle, patient, submissive- in short, more like my Savior, Jesus Christ. A friend of mine offered this variation which is a prayer: “Help me allow myself to be transformed.” That is my prayer too.
4 years ago, my Dad was diagnosed with Lymphoma- cancer of the lymph nodes. His treatments were difficult and he was very ill for some time. Nobody would want to go through that- right? I have no desire to experience cancer treatments either- just to be clear. But one day while my dad was fighting cancer and was sharing with me some of the things he was experiencing, I felt…was it jealousy? Yes- I was jealous that he got that experience. You see, it wasn’t the sickness that I was intrigued by (yikes!)- it was the gold nuggets he was getting out of it. I could tell that he was learning important life lessons, becoming a better version of himself, and I could tell that it was cancer that had given him this dynamic opportunity to grow that I didn’t have. He was becoming more gentle, more humble, more peaceful. And that’s what I wanted…without all the hard parts, right?! Ha! It doesn’t really work that way…
Well, you probably would rather not have a cranky uterus, mad intestines, and ripple effects of a psychotic episode. Ya, me neither. And yet…I have gathered gold nugget after gold nugget during this experience and I’m not done yet. They are mine to keep and they grew out of struggle, pain, and sorrow. And ultimately….that’s what I want…right? The Master Healer is still at work, but I trust that I’ll come out of this a much better version of myself than I was before.
This beautiful version of “Savior, Redeemer of my Soul” has spoken to my heart so many times during my recovery. If there is one golden nugget I want to share today, it’s that Jesus Christ is real, and is way more aware of us personally than I ever realized. I know Him better now; He is full of mercy and compassion and weeps with us as we suffer. He rejoices as we learn by our own experience, wherever we are at right now, how to reach for Him, and reach for Him again.
He has promised to “fill with sweet my bitter cup” and I believe Him.
Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.
Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.
O’errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.