Just to be transparent with you, I am in a different season right now fraught with change and uncertainty and letting go. That’s why I haven’t written in a while.
In this life our journeys take a turn that sometimes come out of nowhere, it seems, and knocks us out for a while. I am starting to very slowly see through the veil that this is another lesson, another level, a gateway into a deeper level with Jesus. Though I feel the breath has been knocked out of me and I am very tired I know from my spirit that Jesus walks this valley with me.
And, yes, I will write more about my story soon.
Which brings me to Lori’s story. I have known Lori for about 30 years. I have watched her and admired her devotion to family and motherhood and God. I knew her Dad, a mighty man of God, and loved him very much. I have been following Lori’s journey through breast cancer and praying along with countless others.
Then yesterday I read this on Facebook and instantly knew her story is a wake up call for me and all of us. Not that we will get cancer, but through her valley of trial, and what she learned there, brings us a message to look at our lives and evaluate what is most important. For our walk on this earth is very short compared to where we are going.
We get so caught up in our ‘masks’ of who we think we are, or we only show what we want people to see; not the real us. Vanity takes over and we live this kind of pseudo life of insincerity. I so admired Lori’s bravery to reveal it all in this trial so that others could see into her world and maybe find hope.
The church was meant for family, for realness, for loving support and transparencies….so that we can grow and heal and know we are not alone.
Peter 5:8-9 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
What is the Holy Spirit assuming about your life? That you are under spiritual attack. This is not a passage about nonbelievers; he’s talking about “your brothers and sisters.” Peter takes it for granted that every believer is under some sort of unseen assault. And what does he insist you do? Resist the devil. Fight back, take a stand.
Lori took a stand and has won her victory. But the lessons were many.
Thank you sweet Lori, for allowing me to share your story.
“Twenty-nine radiation treatments ago I was overwhelmed thinking that I would never be standing with one foot hovering over the finish line. On Monday, I will get my last radiation treatment. On Thursday I am having my port removed. I have spent half a year tearing up my body to rid it of cancer and the next half will be spent rebuilding it.
I still have a long road of recovery ahead, but I face it knowing that I am cancer free.
I know it sounds odd, but I am grateful for everything that I have gone through.
Grateful for the pain?
Grateful for the worry?
Grateful for a disease that ravaged my body and tried to kill me?
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I am grateful because it has changed me in more ways than taking away (just trying to be real here) half of one of my most magnificent physical features.
The fact that I feel grateful is in itself due to the lessons that fighting cancer has taught me.
When you are diagnosed with cancer, everything stops while you concentrate on beating it. You don’t have the energy to participate in all of your normal activities and your treatments take precedence over everything else in your life…a job, family activities, church, or any other pursuit that normally occupies your time. You try to keep things as normal as possible, but basically your schedule is at the mercy of your disease.
At first, I thought that the world was going to crumble if I had to step down from all of the things I was in charge of. Amazingly, the world did just fine during my sabbatical. My husband and kids survived. My house didn’t burn down. The church, the PTA, the cub scouts and all those other things soldiered on. I learned that I don’t have to control every…single…thing.
I don’t have to stress myself out to make everything my version of perfect. One day it hit me that the same God who I was trusting to heal me was also capable of taking care of the everyday worries in my life. As I began to hand those worries over to Him, I also realized that if I were to leave this earth, He would be there to take care of all those that I left behind.
Cancer certainly causes you to face your immortality. We all know we are going to die…someday. When you are diagnosed with cancer, that far off someday is suddenly smacking you in the face. Death itself, doesn’t scare me. I know where I will spend eternity. I am not afraid of what is to come. For me, facing death was more about worrying over what I was leaving behind.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a peace that God would watch over my family, but I was still sad because I had so many more things that I wanted to do with my kids. There were life lessons I wanted to have the time to teach, memories I wanted to make with them, and my own life experiences that I still hadn’t shared. I was angry at myself for all the time in life I had wasted on things that just don’t matter in the bigger picture.
Cancer forced me sift through all the unimportant things in life, causing me to recognize the things that truly mattered…. Ironically “things” didn’t even make the list. I was actually able to clean out my closets and get rid of those clothes I have been holding onto for 15 years because one day the stars might align and they will once more fit me and come back in style all in the same week.
As I begin to purge the stuff in my house, I also took stock of the stuff in my character. I realized that I had held on to grudges, bitterness, anger, hurts, and worries, much the way I had held onto my Members Only jacket from Jr. High.
It was time to let it all go.
When you have one foot in the grave, what this one said about you or that one did to you really doesn’t matter so much.
With the sweeping away of emotional cobwebs comes clarity. Suddenly it occurred to me how much energy I had wasted being worried about what other people think.
How many times had I not embraced life because I was afraid that someone would say I was too old or too fat or too anything to be participating in something I really wanted to do?
Losing my hair was a wakeup call for me. I thought everyone would stare, but the truth is, most people don’t take the time to look beyond themselves and really see those around them. It only took a few times of walking through the grocery store bald, to figure out that no one was looking at me.
Never again will I forgo an opportunity to swim with my kids or enjoy a gorgeous day at the beach because I am afraid of what people will think of my body. Never again will I allow myself to be shy because I am worried someone won’t like me based on my outward appearance. I also vow to stop avoiding cameras.
I have a ten-year gap in the photo album, where there are no pictures of me. I always made the excuse that I am the one who takes the pictures, so I am never in them.
The truth is that I didn’t want to be in them. We haven’t posed for a family portrait since 2008, because I don’t like the way I look. When I faced my darkest days of cancer, it hit me that if I were to die, my kids wouldn’t have any pictures of me. As they grew older, their memories might grow foggy. They might even be unable to remember their own mother’s face.
I have a picture of my mom and me that she hated because she thought she looked old. When I look at it, I don’t see wrinkles, I just see love. I could continue to be the phony girl with a profile picture on Facebook that was taken in 2004, or I could just say, “Screw it, this is me, love it or hate it I don’t care, I choose to be real.”
As I look back on this journey, I see that the healing I received wasn’t limited to the physical. I like to think that in my battle with breast cancer, a tumor was removed from more than my body.
I feel like a cancerous growth has also been removed from my spirit and for that I am grateful for everything that I have gone through. So thank you, cancer. You invaded my body with sights set on my destruction, but you lost!
Not only were you defeated, but what you meant for bad, in the end made me a happier person. I am not the woman I was a year ago and that suits me just fine.”
When Greg and I were first friends and actually neighbors in our adjoining apartments, he was attending an event one day that he needed support from friends while there. I decided to go to the event just to support him. I spent much time on presenting myself because secretly I was interested in getting to know Greg a little better, if you know what I mean. I had on lovely white slacks and was coiffed just so. I lived in an upstairs apartment and cement stairs led down to my car. As I hurried out the door towards my car, somehow I stumbled heading down the stairs and fell head long down a flight of very hard and unrelenting stairs.
I was stunned and shaken when I reached the bottom and, true to my nature, I looked around to see if anyone saw me and then jumped up and ran back up the stairs in denial that my whole body was in pain. I hurriedly checked the mirror to make sure my hair and makeup was still in place and my clothes were still presentable and then rushed off to the event, ignoring the ache in my leg and that my body was shaking.
I entered the building and took my seat to observe and when Greg saw me he came and sat with me. I acted so together as I smiled. But the minute he looked at me he wanted to know if I was okay…we looked down at my leg with the white pants and there was blood seeping through. I leaned over and pulled up my pant leg and had a large goose egg on my shin and it was bleeding. I was embarrassed and said it was nothing and that I just fell down the cement stairs between our apartments before coming. He looked at me like I was from another world. Greg still tells the story.
This was typical behavior for me at the time. I was so good at covering the real me and hiding my imperfections and my clumsiness in most any situation. I had been through a time of great suffering and pain and was still in hiding from my true self.
Have you ever struggled with the fear of showing your true self to the world?
Do you back off of things you are gifted in and you know it’s because of insecurity?
Would you be surprised to find that most everyone struggles to reveal their true self instead of a masked version of themselves that they feel is a bit more acceptable?
Why do we hide our true selves? Are we afraid that no one will like us if they knew who we really are? And, yet, most of us love it when someone reveals their real selves and all of their imperfections because we then start to feel more “normal.”
I had this recurring dream once.
I would be rushing to get somewhere…didn’t matter where…shopping, school, parties…and I forgot to get dressed and my make up wasn’t on…fear would grip me in the dream and I would be terrified. I would be putting on eyebrows, and mascara, and whatever but it would never quite stay on me–it would just slip right off; my clothes kept dropping off. I would find myself in the midst of people totally undone and without makeup or proper attire, terrified and looking for a hiding place but none could be found. People ignored me and everyone would just look at me as if I was not even there. There was nothing about me that made a difference. I was ugly. I was unacceptable. I had nothing to offer if I didn’t look the part, according to my own perceptions. I would wake up from these dreams in a cold sweat.
These dreams revealed to me my deepest insecurities born out of being violated as a young child sexually, and for all my years after the violation I tried to paint a picture of a very together girl that had a perfect life. But inside I knew I was ugly and unworthy and full of shame.
It took a lot of energy to keep my true self hidden and I was always drained.
It takes courage to step out into self discovery and the pain of facing yourself.
Many choose to walk this way for the rest of their lives rather than be courageous enough to face their hidden pain and let it go.
We fear failure and not being good enough or that we won’t fit in.
I believe on our deepest levels we are actually afraid of who we could be. Who we know deep down that God has created us to be…so much more than we could imagine and we know it in our spirits!
You are a precious child of the most high God! Keeping your light hidden only robs the world of what God has gifted you with. As a Life Purpose Coach I am convinced that He has a plan for each and every one of us. But not all walk into that plan. Some resist it because of fear.
You were born to shine forth His glory in this world. That glory is on the inside of you. As you let that glory shine, you give others permission to do the same.
Think about how you are one-of-a-kind. You carry a voice…a resonance. You have a message. The way you do things is totally you.
Focusing on this uniqueness will help you to succeed in life. To grow to love your story. To find joy in the freedom of being you.
It’s when you discover your uniqueness, that you’ll be open to become who you were meant to be.
The real war is in becoming your truest self.
I know this struggle too. Many years I wandered, trying to find who I really was and where I fit in.
But through many years of self discovery in my journey with Jesus, I have to say I am absolutely amazed at how much the struggle to reveal the real me has stopped and I am more comfortable and confident to be who I am called to be.
If you are a regular reader of my blogs you will see I have endeavored to be transparent and vulnerable with my own story…as humorous as it sometimes is…in hopes you will relate and also realize I am no different than you. (Well, maybe some of you aren’t as clumsy as I am.)
It is through this very transparency that my healing has come. It is through this vulnerability that others have been able to relate to my story, and feel the courage to share theirs.
How exciting is that?
I am on a mission to proclaim the freedom into the world that deep relationship with Jesus provides for those who want to pursue it and to help them find their voice–the very thing He is calling them to.
I am passionate to help people uncover obstacles that have held them back and to walk with them in a new journey they never knew existed for them and one that they love. I would love to work with you in Life Purpose Coaching in uncovering more of “you” and the uniqueness you have to offer the world.
My friends, you are made unique for a purpose. Finding your voice starts by being fully alive, inviting people in and having relationship with them by being truly you.
It is letting go of the fear that holds you back once and for all and free falling into the arms of a King who adores you!
Give yourself permission to be free to love you and people wherever you go in life, in what you create and in your business.
Be who you were created to be, find your voice and go change the world.