Let’s talk RECOVERY! Thank you for accepting my invitation to join me in a discussion of cancer, community, and recovery. I hope you also accepted my invitation to make each day this week a day of #nomoreshame! Did you do anything exciting or new?
The truth is, this hasn’t been a week of #nomoreshame for me, even though my best intentions were to seize every moment of every day. Instead, a few moments early in my week seized me
It’s interesting how Yvette’s discussion of spiritual resistance was so timely in my life last week. I knew I was under a spiritual attack. I saw the evidence all around me. Over the weekend, the attack got stronger and stronger. Instead of pressing into Christ, I pressed on through the pressures and fears that were coming my way. By Sunday night, I was feeling a bit like this:
I should have made time for some self-care, time to spend in the word of God, and time to praise my Father and allow His Holy Spirit to refresh me.
On both Monday and Tuesday mornings I ignored the prompting of the Holy Spirit to start my day with Him. Instead, I made time for sleep. I was tired, frustrated, and disappointed. By Tuesday night my fear, pain, and sorrow had left me feeling like a complete failure, and I was ready to give up.
Life is like that sometimes. It can feel like one battle after another, after another, after another, after another….
….and we’re just trying to keep up and find a moment to catch our breath!
Just four weeks ago, I witnessed a similar roller coaster, in a physical sense rather than the spiritual one that’s happening this week. My son spent seven days in the hospital. His chemo treatments and a virus had tag-teamed his body. The attack had left him with no antibodies to continue fighting. The medical term is neutropenia, but that’s just a fancy way of saying his body didn’t have the strength to continue on in the fight.
That’s how I’ve felt this week: I don’t have the strength to continue on in the fight. Let’s call it a spiritual neutropenia.
For my son, recovery from his neutropenia required an entire community of people. There were nurses, doctors, child life specialists, friends, and family who all pulled together to help him get well. Let’s not forget the medicine as well. There was so much medicine: iv antibiotics twice daily, fluids, nausea medicine, and 2 blood transfusions. It took a lot to get his body back to a safe place where he could come home. After he came home, it took another two weeks of rest for his body to completely heal.
So what can I learn from my son’s battle with neutropenia that can help me recover from my spiritual neutropenia? God has shown me three things:
1. Recovery requires community.
God says in Genesis 2:18 (NIV) that it is not good for man to be alone. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) says a person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
There was no way for my son to recover without all the people who came together to help. The doctors brought valuable knowledge. The nurses gave compassionate care. The child life specialists kept him active so he wouldn’t become depressed. Friends and family kept him from being alone. There were also EMT workers who transported him from the Emergency department to the hospital where he stayed.
There is no way for me to recover without a host of people to help as well. I need the valuable knowledge that my pastor has, the compassionate care of my small group, accountability partners to help me fight against depression, and friends and family to remind me that I’m not alone.
On my worst day this week, my accountability partner made me laugh. She also reminded me to be honest about my feelings. A friend saw me, and called me out on my lie when I told her I was fine.
Perhaps the most important part of my recovery community is the Lord, who transports me forward when I simply can’t move or don’t know which way to go.
2. Recovery requires medicine.
I’ve already told you about the medicine my son was given, but what does spiritual medicine look like?
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) says a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit drain’s one strength. There’s a lot to say about how to have a joyful heart, and I cannot claim to have had one this past week, but here’s a scripture for you to consider:
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalms 28:7 (ESV)
Two words stand out to me in this scripture: TRUST and THANKS. I have to be intentional when the mayhem of life last longer than Monday to put my trust in God and give thanks for the blessings in my life.
3. Recovery requires rest.
It’s not enough to just have a community of support and to take my spiritual medicine. I have to also actively seek ways to rest. Now you might be thinking of lying on the couch or in the bed when I say rest. That’s the type of rest my son needed for his neutropenia, but it’s not the right prescription for a spiritual neutropenia.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The Message translation says it this way:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Spiritual rest is an ACTIVE, DAILY choice to lay my burdens at the foot of the cross and trust Jesus to work all things out for my good.
Friends, this week has gotten the best of me, and maybe you too. I hope you’re reading this thinking, “that’s not where I’m at today.” I know, however, some of you are reading this through tears because it’s so where you’re at today. If you’re not here, you probably know someone who is. So I want to pray for you and for myself. I want to leave you on a note of encouragement, because recovery is real and possible. We don’t have to live life defeated.
Oh Lord, we need you. Our burdens are heavy and the battle this week has been real. We haven’t done everything right, but father, we love you. We confess that you have the power to give us strength to continue the fight. You have the power to breathe new life into our mess. We invite you in. Holy spirit, would you come now so that we can trade in our sorrows for your joy. Amen.
Hey, would you join me in worshipping with this group. You might want to grab your kids for this one; they’ll love it!