Suffering

I’ve not given a lot of thought to the promise in scripture that Life will not separate us from the love of God.
I’ve read it many times in the context of the whole verse. Romans 8:38-39
“For I am convinced that neither death or LIFE, or any powers, neither height or depth, or anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What about life makes me feel separated from God? Sometimes my circumstances, fear, my problems, my busyness, negative thinking. It goes on and on…
This is part of life, yet we have this promise. I know I have had a fear of suffering. Haven’t we all? What if this happens, or that happens?
And then it does happen, well at least it does sometimes. That thing you think you can’t handle. Can’t possibly get through.
The dark times that we dread and think are our worst possible nightmares.
What are they for? Why do we suffer?
I can only answer for myself what suffering has rendered in my life. It has made me stronger, not like “oh yeah I’ve got it now” oh no, I’m talking an inward strength. Actually, it is a human weakness that I have embraced, a knowing that on my own I cannot handle what life throws at me.
It’s gut wrenching to think about the hurts and losses that I’ve had in my life. And I don’t dwell there or I’d be a goner for sure. But I do have to consider the losses, they are not for nothing.
There are all types of suffering that we humans can experience. My earliest memories of suffering were at the hands of others. Then I learned how to suffer by my own decisions, my own will. Suffering can become a ‘safe place’ for some if you learn it early and begin to be all to familiar with it.
No matter the reason for suffering, none of us are immune. Suffering is a part of life. So, I believe this is why Life is included in the above verse.
Yes, I have suffered, you have too. We all do. But it doesn’t separate us from God’s love. Even if it feels like we are separated. That is a feeling, not a fact.
This I know. When I turned 50 four years ago, I made some major life changes. Physically I became more fit, I changed my diet, I exercised regularly. I felt better than I had in a long time. My husband and went on a ‘cash diet’ and got out of debt. Life was good. Until it wasn’t. The day that came and my doctor told me I had cancer, breast cancer. An aggressive form of breast cancer. Fear. Set. In.
This was up there with one of the darkest places I’ve been and there have been some really dark places. Everything I did or thought of was through the lens of ‘what if I don’t survive?’ What if I don’t see all my children and step children happily married with their own children? What if I don’t see my granddaughters grow up? They won’t remember me. What if I don’t get to grow old with my husband and do all traveling we’ve dreamed about?
The tragic what if’s were dragging me down into an abyss.
Then one day, in a parking lot I sat and cried. Just cried. Then He showed himself to me. I believe it was because I let go. I could not handle this. I had been strong through other things and learned some things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. But this? Cancer? Well, this one I could not handle. So, I didn’t. I gave it over. I chose hope, I chose faith. Hope and faith that He would see me through. If I was meant to live, I would live. I had encountered another life threatening event over 30 years ago. I had survived. I knew what it was like to be close to death and survive. I knew I could, I would, if I believed that was what was best. The thing is, there were no guarantees I would survie, even with chemotherapy and multiple surgeries. No guarantees. As I sat and listened to the doctor explain the type of cancer that I had, the options and then the statistics. The statistics….that’s when I woke up! I thought, I am not a statistic, I am more than that. Fear cannot have me.
I have been cancer free for a year. Life is good, even through the suffering, Life is good. I’ve never felt the love of God and the love of others as I have over the past year. There is hope, there is joy. It is a choice.
Whatever you are facing today or will face in the future. God’s love is with you. Even in your darkest hour.
Love & Blessings,
Donna

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The Dance

There are days, moments that stay with us forever. Some are good, some not so good and some so completely terrible we only wish we could forget. We hear it all the time. “Today is all we have, enjoy it to the fullest, live your life like there is no tomorrow.”  Have you been there? I have. I’ve tried to grab all the gusto one small town southern girl could grab and then some. It’s been a life long journey in the search for acceptance, salvation, acceptance again, forgiveness, belonging and round and round I went. Sometimes I still do the dance. You know, the acceptance dance. Maybe if I do this or that, I will be understood and accepted. It does get tiring and who really wants to repeat the same ole song and dance forever? I believe there is something innate in all of us that craves acceptance and love. You know the stuff that children get from their families of origin. But what if it doesn’t happen? What if it doesn’t come that way, or what if it does and we just don’t get it? What happens then? It’s anybody’s guess.

For me it was not always a pretty path, one that I am not completely proud of. But I’m still here. I’m still capable of giving and recieving love. Everyday I pray for the strengh to give back even a portion of the love and grace and hope that have been bestowed on me.

In honor of my Father today on what would’ve been his 90th birthday. I dedicate this blog. Something that he inspired me to do very near his time of passing on from here three years ago. I promised I would do it then. But it all felt too big, too painful, too embarassing to share my story. After all what would people think? Oh and then there is that acceptance thing again. And I’m tired of doing that dance. Very tired. I had an epiphany of sorts today realizing that I wanted to do this and dedicate to my late father. I realized I don’t have to tell it all at once. I don’t have to tell my whole story today. It can be told as God gives me the strength and grace to do so. After all, it is all for HIm that I will write. My earthly father inspired me and my heavenly father will see me through it. This I know for sure.

Because I know in my heart and in my spirit:

“There is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus”- Romans 8:1

May we all have the grace, strength and hope to share our stories to help one another, even as Christ and our fellowman have helped us.

Love & Blessings to you all,

Donna