We went on vacation for the first time in three years. Our last vacation in 2019, I had just started Xeloda and my bloodwork wasn't looking good. When I asked if I could still go, the nurse’s response was "they have ERs there, right?" We ended up having to leave that vacation early because I got a phone call that my ferritin was at a 3 and I needed an iron infusion.
Going into this vacation I had been feeling sicker again but Ricky and I were hopeful it would still be a nice change of scenery and a relaxing time. We brought all of my supplements and approved foods and felt we had prepared as best as we could for my current health situation.
Then my husband, who almost never gets sick, ended up being sick for the first half of our vacation. I was also dealing with some pesky symptoms and couldn’t seem to figure out what was going on. By Wednesday we had managed to make it to the beach twice and we were hoping things were starting to look up. But that evening I started feeling pretty terrible. And to make an unpleasant story short, I’ll just say I ended up really sick, like fever and six pounds lost- kinda sick, and I spent the rest of vacation in bed.
We got home Saturday afternoon and I broke. I felt lower than I had in years and I found myself yelling at God “I don’t know You!” My screams turned to sobs as I questioned why we couldn’t have one vacation after the four years of hell we had been through. My mind was reeling and I felt myself slipping into such dark despair. Maybe this was it, the straw that would break my back …
And yet, after those five minutes of sobbing, I heard in my head the lyrics to “King of My Heart” by Steffany Gretzinger - “You’re never gonna let me down.” There was a part of me that still felt like I was being taunted but I let the song play on.
The next morning, I made the decision to watch church- not because I am super religious or legalistic but because every fiber in my body DID NOT want to do it, and I knew that meant I absolutely should. After that, I felt like the burden was lifted. No, I didn’t have an answer for why we had such a difficult vacation but I knew God was still for me.
Looking back, I felt like Galadriel when Frodo offers her the One Ring. She becomes a hideous creature for a moment as she imagines what would happen if she were to give into the evil lure of the Ring. Then upon resisting the temptation, she becomes her serene self again and simply says “I pass the test.” I don’t believe God was testing me, but I stood on the brink and had to make a choice of vital importance- would I give in and give up or would I continue to trust the plans God has for my life?
In the weeks since vacation, I’ve continued to battle some health things that have been causing me to feel fearful. I’m realizing that the trauma of my cancer experience has left me with deep emotional scars that cause me to distrust my own body.
I just started reading John Eldredge’s book “Resilient” and in the introduction he explains that we all have gone through a collective trauma from the COVID experience and that we so desperately want things to be “normal” again that we are in denial. He says, “We would never tell a survivor of abuse that the trauma must be over now that the abuse has stopped” (p. x). I have been hurt by people in the past who have treated me this way but I had to stop and ask myself, was I living under that very belief? I have been frustrated that my life hasn’t been able to be “normal” again- but did I ever go deeper to seek healing for the trauma I had been through or did I just expect to “bounce back” miraculously?
Later, Eldredge explains the “trauma cycle” saying, “We rally in the face of harm, and when harm subsides, we live in denial of it and go off in search of some taste of Eden. When our efforts are thwarted, rage surfaces … One of the most remarkable things about human beings is how resilient we can be. Yet one of the most surprising things about human beings is how all that resilience can evaporate in a moment” (p. 6, 7). This sounded an awful lot like what I had experienced and it frightened me.
Saturday I heard a new version of a song I already loved and I couldn't get it out of my head. Then Sunday I read a word from Lana Vawser that said, “many have felt like their “song” had been stolen; their voice had been lost because of the long and hard seasons they had endured. Trauma, disappointment, heaviness, fear, grief, foreboding and weariness had stolen their song” but she felt the Lord say, “I am raising up a new song within you! A new song of hope and freedom for the new day.” I felt like it was a confirmation of the song my heart hadn't stopped singing since the day before (I’ve included the song below).
Yesterday I saw a post from someone on Instagram that stopped me in my tracks. The post said, “We need … more reminders to not subscribe to fear … Healing won’t happen anyway if we are stressed and anxious. We must stop cursing the body with worries and fears … Free and true holistic medicine is coming to terms with your own lived experiences, trauma and inner conflicts” (@roseuncharted, quote used with permission). It was such a powerful reminder to me to pause and really seek God for my healing, body and mind. I have wanted so desperately for there to be an answer, a magic supplement or diet or regimen, and I have become so anxious over the fact that there hasn’t been one. I think there is beauty in letting go of control and I want to be more aware of that.
I have been so focused on the healing of my body, all the the while in breathless anticipation of the next terrible test result. I want to pursue complete healing- body, soul, mind and spirit. I want to acknowledge the trauma I have experienced, forgive my body for betraying me (and thank my body for fighting through) and then work towards healing and freedom.
Something is healing
I'm beginning to believe
I am what You think of me
Oh, this changes everything (Amanda Cook)
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness You follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. You have laid Your hand on me! - Psalm 139:5
I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. - 2 Timothy 1:12b
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. - Proverbs 23:18
All my love,
P.S. I'd love to encourage someone else in their healing journey. I will give one person the choice of a copy of Resilient by John Eldredge or State of the Union by Amanda Cook. To enter, simply comment below (please make sure to leave your name and/or email so I can contact you if you win!), on my Facebook post or on my Instagram post. I will announce the winner on 9/27/22.
*Update 9/28/22: Congratulations Jennifer! Keep an eye out for more giveaways in the future.