Choose Me!

hands raised colorfulThroughout my life, I always wanted to be chosen. In elementary school, I was the kid chosen last for teams in gym class. I wasn’t the little girl that everyone liked, with pretty bows in her hair and the latest lunch box. I usually had the buttons on my sweater crooked and my shoes untied. If I left the house with bows in my hair, I lost them before I got to school.

In junior high, I was not the girl chosen by the cute and popular guys. In 6th grade, my best friend and I liked the same guy.  For some reason, I thought it would be a great idea to make him choose between the two of us. And no, he did not choose me. Why I would set myself up for this, I have no idea.

I attended a small, Christian high school. There were many girls from wealthy families. They were thin and beautiful and drove new cars. I put them on a pedestal. At lunch, everyone sat in circles. I would have given anything to have one of them invite me into her circle. One day, I got brave and sat just outside a circle and hoped I would be let in. A girl moved so she was in front of me and left me on the outside. After that day, I spent many lunch hours in the bathroom so no one would see me eat alone.

In my family, I am the middle child. I have a smart, pretty, outgoing older sister. She had lots of boyfriends and a ton of self-confidence. She was not afraid to take on the world and tell anyone who would listen, they were going to do it her way. I also have a sweet, younger brother. He was such a cute little boy with big, blue eyes.  I thought it was very important for my parents to now have a son. In my young, romantic brain, I knew I would never be as important as him because he would carry on our name! I felt invisible between the two of them. I was gray compared to their vibrancy. I loved them desperately and was always willing to stay in the background.

In my late teens, I started a 10 year relationship with my first love. For me, this was that see fireworks kind of love that I knew would last forever. I desperately wanted this man to choose me. I convinced myself that there was something about me I could improve, that there was something I could do better.I did just about everything but cut out my heart and hand it to him. I hung in for a long time, hoping he would see that I’m not that bad and I was worth choosing. He never would, he never did.

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to be chosen. I wasted a lot of tears when I wasn’t. It took me a long time to understand and believe that it was their loss, not mine. You have to take a little more time, make a little extra effort to get to know me. I now know that I’m totally worth it.

John 15:16 – You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

I Am Found

lone boatAnother day in a haze. Should I thank You for this day when I don’t want it? It was painful to get up this morning. I am thankful to You for the gift of sleep. I did not want to leave that escape to go out and be a part of this horrible world.

I watched the people at work. There was a party – lots of talking and laughing. I wanted someone to talk to me, I wanted to be sought out, I wanted to be that girl who always says something clever. Funny how these are the same things I’ve always wanted throughout my life. I ended up going back to my cubicle where I quietly watched, safe and alone. After the party, I did talk to one person. I know I’m in her thoughts. Maybe she will pray for me. Maybe You will listen to her?

God, why can’t I find You? Could You please send just a little comfort? My soul is cold, numb. I need to remind myself that things could always be worse and I should be thankful for what I have. I am thankful for my son. For his maturity and his good heart. If the price to pay for his happiness is for me to be unhappy, I will gladly accept that.

I hate my life. I hate being stuck. I hate making the best of a bad situation. I hate being an afterthought. I hate smiling when I want to scream. I am here, but I am too insignificant to be noticed.

Jesus, teach me that You are always seeking me out. It’s impossible to comprehend how You are in control of everything, You are the King. Yet You see me, You know me, You are with me.

 

You Must Fight, Together or Alone

On a bright and sunny Tuesday in late March, 2015, I had a doctor’s appointment with my GP. I had concerning symptoms and I wanted to get them checked out. My doctor ordered a CAT scan to make sure everything was OK. I had the CAT scan done the next day. They told me it would be at least 24 hours until I received results. Instead, within 2 hours, my doctor called to tell me I needed to see a colo-rectal surgeon.

never stop fighting 1

I remember standing in my kitchen and listening to my doctor get out of breath as she rushed to get the phone number of a surgeon. She was saying things like “thickening of the colon wall” and “more than 10 lymph nodes”. I was waiting for her to say, “you will be OK” or “this isn’t anything to worry about.” After she gave me the phone number, I asked her if this was really that urgent. She paused and then loudly said, “YES!”

I called the colo-rectal surgeon. His office had already been contacted by my GP and they were ready to squeeze in an appointment for me the next day. After I hung up the phone, I put my head on the kitchen counter. Physically, I’ve never been really sick. My body always figured out a way to heal and move on with very little fanfare. My gut told me it really was urgent. I cried.

Within a few days, I was officially diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer. I was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Cards, emails, food, prayers, well wishes, gift cards, offers to help with cleaning and home improvements! It was like Christmas just for me. People I haven’t heard from in years, even people I didn’t know, were reaching out to me. I don’t think I ever felt more loved and cared for. All of these wonderful people carried me through this past year.

I then thought back to the day I was diagnosed with depression. That day was one of many days I felt closer to dying than living.  I held this diagnosis close to me. Struggling with depression is a lonely fight.  Maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to make it out of the dark.

Romans 8:37 – Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who has loved us.

Just a Hug

I have begged You to help me. Just a small sign of encouragement to let me know You are here. Maybe a hug from someone. Someone to take an extra moment to look at me and see I’m hurting. I feel I’m covered in darkness and don’t understand why people close to me can’t see me struggling. Yet, You give me nothing. What have I done? How many times do I have to be at the bottom?

Girl Face Sad

I think You made a mistake when you put me in this world. I have no place in it, no purpose. I assume I’m supposed to learn something while I’m at this place, but I’m only relearning the lesson to shut down and protect myself. I’m only continuing to close myself off from the world.

Speaking to people is a chore. Responding takes an effort. I have lost my closest friend and your silence leads me to believe I have lost You too. All I see for me is a road of meaningless days, dimly lit, half alive.

Jesus, teach me to look for people who are hurting and reach out to them. Sometimes, a hug can help more than a pill.

Beautiful Creation

Beautiful Creation 2

The gun felt heavy in my hand. I carefully looked at it. It mesmerized me. My stomach flipped as I thought how close I was to dying. I had the power to end my life. This gun was my path to freedom.

All the reasons I had to put the gun down were so far away. I couldn’t reach them anymore. I tried to find something, to find some thought that would make me put it down. Everything seemed hazy and dreamlike. There was nothing left for me to hold on to.

I slowly raised the gun and pointed it at my head. I was standing in front of a mirror and I did not know who I was looking at. I then heard a voice. It was calm, gentle, strong. “Why do you want to kill my beautiful creation”? “Why? Why do you want to kill my beautiful creation”?

Jesus, teach me that I am your beautiful creation.

Deuteronomy 32:10: In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye.

 

Cancer is the Answer!

question marks long image

My sister is a nurse. Many years ago, she was an oncology nurse. She used to say, in a sing-song happy voice, “Cancer is the answer!”. I remember thinking in my early 20s mind (as I said, many years ago) how can she make light of such a horrible, scary disease? How could cancer be a happy answer? What was the question she was answering!?!

I was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer in April, 2015. I got the all clear in January, 2016. Dumb cancer is back and I’m starting a new chemo regimen today. Let me be clear, cancer sucks. Even though it sucks, it will not run or ruin my life. Yes, I know I’ll feel bad. Yes, I know cancer will probably shorten my life. But, I am so much more than somebody with cancer.

Friends and family have told me that they have cried about me. I think, please don’t cry! Cancer is dumb! I don’t have to work because of it! Cancer is the answer! Don’t think of me and be sad, you’re letting cancer win. I’m still me.

So, what is the question if cancer is the answer?

⇒ What disease do I spend more time laughing at than crying about?

⇒ What has brought more love into my life?

⇒ What has taught me how to better love and care for the people in my life?

During this chemo regimen, I’m sure there will be a day when I feel horrible. I will think of this post and know I must have been insane when I wrote it. But, it will also be a reminder for me that cancer can never invade my soul, and that’s what really matters.

Where Are You?

I have been struggling with depression for years. I didn’t realize this until I was in my forties, when I was diagnosed. Looking back, it’s clear to see where I was struggling and I wish I could grab hold of that Julie’s hand and pull her out.

road fog

I wake to another morning. I think today the pain will surely end, but there is more. Where are You? Do You see me? Do You hear me? I look for a glimmer that tells me You are here. I can feel the silence.

I stumble through a day at work. I put on a happy face and smile. It is not an option to let anyone know my pain or to see any weakness.

Finally, back at home, I am glad to be away from people. I look forward to the escape of sleep. I don’t eat and climb into bed. I cry. It hurts, Father. I have never felt despair before, but I feel it now as it overwhelms my soul.

As I fall asleep, in the blackness I catch a small glimpse of light.

I know it’s You.

Jesus, teach me that even in the darkest places You will create light.

John 1:5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.