Pushing Through Recovery and Seeking a Meaningful Story.

Two and a half weeks have past since my full thyroidectomy and lymph node removal surgery, and I am reluctant to admit that it has become difficult. The first couple weeks I was pushing through the pain of the surgery and the little inconveniences of recovery, but the process of healing in that regard was relatively simple for me to push through mentally. It was surgery after all, it made sense that pain would come, and it made sense that I would be down for the count for a week or so with all of the antibiotics and anesthesia in my system.

Now, however, since my wound is healing very nicely, and I’m gaining more mobility in my neck, I desperately desire to be able to go about life normally, but my body will not allow it. I feel very tired all day and while I can go out for a chunk of time–even the majority of the day or the majority of an evening–I cannot make it through a full day of walking around or even talking without getting exhausted. I really do not want this to be a woe-is-me blog, so please bare with my transparency and honesty.

It is definitely a mental battle. I have never been forced to rest for this long. I am used to being able to get up early, exercise, accomplish an extensive “to-do” list each day and feel pretty energized even at the end of the day. Deferring law school a year because of being diagnosed with cancer four days before starting was difficult, but not as difficult as dealing with the frequent thoughts I have these days:

“What are you doing with your life now?”
“Why are you just sitting there?”
“Why are you wasting time?”
“How are you helping others by laying on a couch?”

I have committed myself to a daily devotional each morning and have learned that if I read immediately when I wake up, I can read what I planned to before my nausea and exhaustion settles in. It has certainly helped start my day off on the right foot and kept my spirits high. I look forward to being able to read more throughout the day and growing more in knowledge and understanding. For now, it is hit or miss each day if I will be feeling well enough to read and comprehend. It’ll come though, I know that.

I want to make a difference in this world, and it is hard for me to be confined to my apartment for much of the day. I want to go out and talk to people. I want to love strangers, seek justice for the oppressed and pursue opportunities that place me in optimal position to impact people for good.

Right now, I need to seek more silence and prayer. There is nothing else I can do at this point, and I am finding peace in that. From living in California, working four jobs while going to school full-time and being part of a world-class percussion group to—-> moving to Chicago, being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, having no school and work only two nights a week for a couple hours…I do not think it is an accident that I’m being forced to slow down. It is time to truly evaluate what I want the rest of my life to look like when I complete radiation and get back to full health in the next few months.

I am so thankful that my favorite author, Donald Miller, just released a new book called “Storyline: Finding Your Subplot in God’s Story.” It looks like it is going to be an excellent resource for planning a life that has a meaningful story. I hope that while I’m quarantined for radiation treatment, I can spend time working my way through this book. I meet with my endocrinologist on Monday to talk about the treatment.

In everything though, I continue to be reminded of how blessed I am and how beautiful the people in my life are. Thank you for your encouragement and steadfast love through this journey. While I like to pretend I can do this all on my own, I am willing to admit that I am wrong. I would not be where I am today without all of your love and support. If you have made it through the end of this post, you are one of those people, and I just have to say from the bottom of my heart–Thank you.

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Ps. 73:26

My Story of Accepting God’s Love

Growing up I never had a problem accepting the freedom and grace that Christ offers us. I never had any problem understanding his motives, his love, his mercy, his kindness and now I am somewhat ashamed to admit this. While God’s intention is for us to accept and receive his grace and love, I think sometimes we do so too flippantly. Do we fully understand the weight of this gift? I didn’t.

During the last four years, I have learned so much about the character of God, the person of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. This has been an overwhelming experience. He has given me joy beyond my comprehension and has filled me with a passion to love people and to pursue His kingdom daily. 

“Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.” Micah 6:8

However, the closer I have come to know Christ–the closer I have come to understanding a glimpse of who He is–the more spiritual warfare I have experienced and the more difficulty I have had to accept this  free grace.

I have become aware of how beautiful it is that in my brokenness, in my pain, in all the ways I screw up, Christ pursues me relentlessly with his love. In my fear, in my uncertainty, he calls me by name and declares his sovereignty over my life. I don’t deserve such love and devotion; I don’t deserve that he desires so deeply for me to know him. I guess that’s why it’s called grace…

Through this acknowledgement and understanding of Christ, the devil has stepped in and tried to strip me down to the core. The past several months I have had days where I am bombarded by thoughts of how disgusting, worthless, selfish and cowardly I am. These thoughts bring me to my knees in tears, crying out to God for forgiveness. I used to think this was God convicting me, but I realize now that it was actually Satan trying to lessen the impact of grace in my life. Many nights he won, leaving me beaten and broken.

“Accepting God’s kindness and free love is something the devil does not want us to do. If we hear in our inner ear, a voice saying that we are failures, we are losers, we will never amount to anything, this is the voice of Satan trying to convince the Bride that the Groom does not love her. This is not the voice of God. God woos us with kindness, he changes our character with a passion of his love.” Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

A close friend recently told me that when Christ convicts us, it’s to draw us closer to Him, it’s to direct us back to Him. If thoughts of guilt and worthlessness flood my mind and there’s no directing back to God, then that’s not God’s voice. It’s the devil trying to convince me that God will not love me in my sin and brokenness. It’s a lie. Satan is a liar and deceiver, and he will do whatever he can to lessen my understanding and acceptance of God’s free love and grace.

I hadn’t experienced spiritual warfare before, but I can tell you, it’s absolutely real and incredibly painful. However, I can also tell you that part of me feels blessed to experience this, because I believe the devil realizes he’s losing me and that my life belongs to Christ. He’s trying so hard for me to not follow Jesus, but it’s too late, my life belongs to Him.

I now know that when I face these dark days and when I feel like I am not worthy of anything, that this is exactly where Christ comes in. His love, his peace, his grace and his mercy meet me there. He comforts me and reassures me that He will never leave me, or forsake me. He will love me despite my failures, he will be there in my suffering, his promises are true.

It is no longer flippantly that I accept Christ’s grace into my life, for I have a greater understanding of my need for him and how little I am without him. I am more thankful today than ever that he sacrificed everything so that we may live abundantly in him and with him. I will never be the same again.