The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe has a better ring, right? My story has similarities; adventure with twists and turns, unexpected dangers, and a happy, redemptive ending. Well, that is what I am believing will happen.
Here is a brief medical review of 2021 to set the stage. In February my gallbladder was removed along with a golf ball-sized gallstone. Since we met our medical deductible, I decided to get the breast reduction I have wanted for decades.
In November I had a breast reduction (see elevator picture with Jose). After surgery, I wasn’t able to pee. We went to the ER and the Dr. ordered a cat scan because my stomach was protruded. She returned and said there was a mass the size of a basketball in my stomach.
What the ...?
She said it could be cancer and we needed to address it right away. We were shocked yet exceedingly grateful it was found.
The gratitude lasted about 48 hours and then I was raging mad. I am the same age my mom was when she died of leukemia. I was 12 when she died, and my oldest daughter is 12 now. There were too many similarities and I was pissed that God would allow this again. It was a dark couple of days in fear + anger.
Between the fear and Norco pain meds, I had horrible nightmares. It felt like I was walking through a haunted mansion every night - with death + darkness shouting, hissing, and snarling at me. I hate Halloween so this was disturbing. This added to my fear + anger about the entire situation.
My life verse is John 10:10. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come to give you life, life to the full.
Well, it didn’t seem to fit with my circumstances.
God, how can You give me a life verse with the word life in it TWICE and then take my life away?
Kirsten means "Anointed. Walks with God." How can I walk with you if I'm DEAD?
How cruel to have me walk through the same situation AGAIN? Really??!?!??
This is so wrong!!!
I was on a roll.
But I knew I didn't want to stay in this anger. After my mom died, I didn't get angry. I accepted all the platitudes people gave me as truth and stuffed down the sadness, pain, anger, and grief. This time I knew it was OK to be angry. I told God I didn't get mad when my mom died, but I'm mad now and we need to talk. Let's do this.
I envisioned Jesus sitting on a patch of grass ready and waiting to meet with me. He looked up, making eye contact, and his eyes were full of compassion and kindness. He understood suffering. He knew pain and loss. He would let me rage, but he wouldn't fight back or justify. He would just be with me. And that was enough. The rage slipped away and the fear behind it revealed itself. I didn't want to fight. I wanted to be comforted in my sadness and not lonely in my fear.
After this experience, I stopped feeding rage and allowed fear to surface. I leaned into kindness, compassion, and truth. As I listened to devotionals and prayed several things stood out.
I Am That I Am. Exodus 3:14
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Yes, God, I understand that you are the author and perfecter of my faith. You know the faith that I need to do what you have created me to do. You will perfect my faith in your way, in your timing, for my good, and your glory. Ugh, I just wish our faith wasn't perfected through hardship and pain.
James 1:2-4. 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth, I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Psalm 61:1-4 NIV
Yes, God, lead me higher than this low pit. It's dark, cold, and scary down here. I want to crawl into your safe refuge and hide.
The truth of scripture comforted me. Yet, at times my fearful, doomsday thoughts would return. I was making up a narrative of how this was going to play out and it wasn’t good.
When I heard, I AM that I AM, I added a “but...”
God said I AM that I AM.
Kirsten - But this is a lot like my childhood and it’s not going to end well.
God said I AM that I AM.
Kirsten - But it shouldn’t be this way. I’ve tried to avoid pain my whole life and now I’m experiencing more. I don’t like how you are I AMing. It wasn't fair when I was a kid and it isn't fair now.
My Core4 that lives in CA came to pray over me. They invited Jose to join us and laid hands on my belly while they prayed beautiful words that comforted and soothed our souls.
I shared about all that I was thinking, experiencing, and hearing. They listened, spoke words of truth and strength, and reminded me of who God is and who I am. One of my beloveds provided a new perspective when I confessed I needed to stop adding to God’s I AM’s with my "but..."
She saw it differently. She didn’t see I AM as an ending. She saw it as a beginning and something even bigger than we could imagine. This was helpful. Her perspective brought me back to Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge. I needed a broader perspective than my pain + fear. A kingdom perspective.
God’s plan never ends with pain + fear. It ends with redemption. He brings beauty from ashes. It’s who He is. It's what He does. He makes beauty out of ashes.
These are the types of things I say when someone invites me to speak at their church. All year I had been speaking about being His BELOVED. The words had penetrated my soul + changed me. I was finally seeing myself as his daughter. I was becoming stronger emotionally + spiritually while a dang basketball-sized mass was growing in my body!
Kirsten - What is up with that, God??? I’m getting stronger inside but my body is wasting away?
Oh wait, that’s Biblical. But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. (Continuing to rant.) As I was saying...
Then I reminded him of all I’ve been doing FOR him. (Ugly, but honest.)
God, I tell women about your love, power, and goodness. And now THIS? I tell them you write “Epic Redemption Stories”. And now I’m having a cancer journey just like my mom?
(Light bulb illuminated. Bell ringing. Eyes to see.)
Ohhhhhhhh, now I get it. That is what makes it an epic redemption story. You are going to take me back to the places where the sadness, pain, loss, and grief were buried alive and you are going to comfort and transform all of it. You are going to heal pain from my childhood that has been ignored for all these years. We are going back in a way that will launch me forward.
A new perspective was born. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Holli.