Last week, as I waited for the results of my bloodwork (when they declared me “done”), one of my doctors saw me and came to congratulate me on the good news. He is a positive, energetic man from Pakistan. I just love him. He gave me a “word” to encourage me as I move on in life. Basically, he said, “just remember; no matter how bad things have been, in 6 months you will hardly even remember it!”. And with a handshake and a smile, off he went. My thoughts on this were deep: “No, no, no, no, no!” If I forget in 6 months, or EVER, this was all for nothing. I understand what he is trying to say-that life will go on and this horrible thing doesn’t have to remain…horrible. But my tendency is to live life with an “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” mentality, and I desperately do NOT want to put this out of my mind. God allowed this to happen and changed me and my family in the process. If I just focus on “moving on” but not remembering the past, the impact of this will be lost.
This morning I got to visit with a sweet friend who lost her 22-year-old daughter a couple of years ago. We talked about this very thing. We both agreed that there have been times, embarrassing as it is to admit, that the next person who quoted the scripture, “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose” may very well get a pop in the nose! Deep down, I actually believe that, but I think (and this is just my personal opinion) that the “good” part comes in the REDEMPTION of bad stuff. Leukemia is bad. It will NEVER be good. Losing a child is bad. It will NEVER be good. Death, disease, divorce, addiction, unemployment, betrayal-all bad. They will NEVER be good. But God can and will redeem portions of the bad and use them to change US in some good ways and change OTHERS in good ways, through us. IF we let Him. A month before I got Leukemia we lost a dear friend to cancer. She was about my age. She was an amazing mother and wife and friend and had hundreds of people praying for her to be healed for a couple YEARS. My husband had a nephew that died at 15 yrs old from AIDS as a result of a blood transfusion he received as an infant born with hemophilia. People had been praying for his healing for, well, 15 years. Thousands of people. When I got Leukemia, I knew better than to count on being healed based on the number of people asking for it or how much faith I had in Him to do it. I no more “deserved” it than they did. I KNOW it is God’s will that none of us be sick or die-but it’s also not His will that I sin, and I do that every single day. Because God has given us the gift of FREEDOM, His WILL does not always “hold sway” in this world. Has anyone else noticed this?
I heard a song on my way to the hospital a few weeks ago. It’s by a band called Dawes, and the chorus went like this: “Let’s make a list of all the things the world has put you through. Let’s raise a glass to all the people you’re not speaking to. I don’t know what else you wanted me to say to you…THINGS HAPPEN. THAT’S ALL THEY EVER DO.” Things happen. Good and bad things happen to all of us. To the faithful and the faithless. The wise and the wicked. The generous and the greedy. “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Loving and serving God is not a ticket to the “easy life.” The bottom line for me is this: I can go through my life-my THINGS-with God’s comfort and help, or without it. He loves ALL the world, not just those who love him back. Me loving Him back helps ME handle life and believe he can redeem the bad crap that I have been through and will go through in the future. It’s my choice to write this blog versus whine and moan about the hand I have been dealt. I can encourage other AML patients or I can isolate and pout about my own “losses”. I can live in self-pity about what I don’t have or rejoice and be grateful for what I do have. I can choose to use my circumstances to help others, or I can get resentful and bitter.
I love this quote from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I believe it applies to any trial, battle, struggle, that life throws at me: “Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth-while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have-the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them…What a gift it is to realize that all those seemingly useless years (days, weeks, months) were not wasted….” . I don’t pretend to understand the “why” of suffering or why some are “healed” from illness, addiction, or signature sins, and some are not. All I know is that I don’t want to waste my days of suffering. If they result in me being ugly and bitter, that is wasteful. I want the “things” that happen to make me more of the person God designed me to be; the kind of person I could have never been without surviving the “bad things” and letting God use them for “good things”. Our attitude makes all the difference. “Things happen. That’s all they ever do.” What you do with those “things” is totally up to you.