“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
I was taught a principle several years ago in the LIFE community that in order to achieve success, long-term vision is necessary. Meaning, we must live in the present but always plan and see the future of where we are going. Imagine that you can see your life five years from now so clearly that it’s almost as if you are already living that dream. You can see the land you are living on with your family, the charities you are able to support, the people you are able to help and the lifestyle you are able to live. The dream is alive and well and there is absolutely nothing that can stand in the gap of where you are and where you are going. That’s where I was just months ago.
As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with a life threatening in-operable brain tumor about 6 months ago. At first I was in such denial that I didn’t want anyone to know about it because I was sure one day I would wake up and realize it was all just a bad dream. Or I would complete my treatment and it would all be over in just a couple months. Well, six months has gone by and having already been through 3 MRI’s with contrast, 6 weeks of radiation, daily chemotherapy, cocktails of medications, weekly blood draws, 10’s of thousands of dollars in medical bills and more doctor and pharmacy visits than I can even count the bad dream has suddenly become my reality. To say my long term vision is foggy would be an understatement. In fact, my vision and plans for the future has taken a complete 180 degree turn.
Since I have moved past denial and into reality, I have realized that like anything we go through in life, numerous lessons are learned along the way no matter what the situation. So this post will be the start of a series of posts that will reflect my journey of life lessons as God reveals them to me in the coming months.
Last Tuesday I started a new chemotherapy regimen in which I am required to complete a minimum of six rounds (cycles) over the course of six months and up to a year if needed. So for one week a month I’m hit with heavy doses of poison in attempt to shrink the tumor. As you can imagine, my options for treatment have been minimal. There is really no quick fix – but then again, is there ever? Prior to my first day of this new treatment I had to take a moment for myself to really gather my thoughts and think about my future. So as I normally do when I want to think deeply I walked to the river near my house and sat staring into the water. It’s the place I usually go to sit and read, pray and dream. Except this time my thoughts were much different – the sound of my doctor’s voice as he told me the laundry list of risks this drug carries now and in the future, the potential for this not to work, the fear of side effects this will cause, etc, etc. It was a defining moment when I could finally see how real this was. Then my thoughts turned to anger, frustration and sadness. My questions of WHY were never answered. I walked home feeling defeated and alone. Every other time I could go to my spot and I could sense God’s presence right there with me but this time He wasn’t there and it made my first week of treatment very unsettling.
When I played college basketball, every season my coach would tell us that we would have a week of tryouts that she called ‘Hell week.’ And anyone who ‘made it’ through the week without quitting or walking off the court was basically on the team. If cuts needed to be made after Hell week then she knew she had a strong group of athletes. I couldn’t help but reflect on those days during this last week of treatment. The physical, mental and emotional pain that we had to endure our first week of tryouts was strikingly similar to the first week of Hell I had to experience with my new treatment. Like basketball, there were moments when I just wanted to give up and quit; asking myself, is this really worth it?
When your vision and plan shifts so drastically and so quickly, you start to question so many things. It’s not uncommon to question yourself: did I do something that physically caused this? Did I sin in some way that this is God’s way of ‘getting me back.’ You start to question the doctor’s and hospitals: Are they really trying to help me or just fatten their checkbooks? Are they offering me the best care possible to get the best outcome? You start to question your faith: Is God really going to protect me and heal me? Is God really there or am I really just all alone? What I realized in my questioning is that such questions always arise when our life starts to change, whether that be good or bad – getting married, having a baby, beginning our spiritual walk, starting a business, going to college, getting a new job, re-locating to a new living arrangement, etc. And the only solution I have been able to find in my questioning is to trust God.
Trust God when you are walking down the aisle on your wedding day, trust God when you are signing the papers to your brand new home, trust God when you are holding your newborn baby for the very first time, trust God when you are laying in the hospital bed preparing for the scariest surgery of your life, trust God when you send your son or daughter off to college, trust God even when you can’t hear him answer, trust God with everything in your life because He is the only one that hold’s the answers to your questions.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11