Cancer. Just one word. But that one word carries a heavy load of fear, pain, suffering and uncertainty.
My family was, is and never will be perfect. We may have, at times, perfected the image of being normal but we are pretty chaotic. Although the fact we all have our quirks has grown on me, it hasn’t always been easy. And it was certainly heavily complicated when we found out that doctors had discovered our dad had a tumour.
We didn’t know whether it was cancerous at this point, but even hearing the word ‘tumour’ sent us all into a tailspin that lead directly to the word ‘cancer’. We had learnt about what cancer could do to the human body at school, learnt about different courses of treatment for different forms of cancer and even knew of people who had been through their own battle with it. But nothing prepared any of us for the up close and personal relationship we got to have with the disease.
We spent our summer in and out of hospitals, and eventually hospices, watching cancer steal the life from our dad. He grew weaker and more tired by the day. He was a strong man who worked as a prison officer and firefighter, so the physical changes to his body were scary.
That summer was difficult. We prepared ourselves for what we had learnt would be inevitable.
Within four months of finding out his cancer was terminal, our dad had passed away.
I remember the night my dad died. I was in the room when he passed away and afterwards I kept repeating to my mum that God wouldn’t have put me there if He didn’t think I could deal with it. I guess I was also trying to convince myself. But it took a while.
We all experience change. But sometimes the change is so monumental that it rocks you to the core. It stirs up your whole life and affects every aspect.
It’s terrifying and uncertain.
For a long time I ignored God. It wasn’t that I blamed Him for what we were going through, or even that I doubted Him, but I just thought I could handle it all by myself. I thought I could understand it all.
But my dependence on my own abilities, knowledge and strength was fleeting.
Although I thought I had it all together, I really didn’t. I became so torn up with bitterness and anger towards people that could have stuck around and supported my family but just didn’t. It felt like another reminder that I wasn’t good enough.
I also got really negative about myself. I would beat myself up and find myself believing the lies that I was worthless. I became so consumed with all my faults that I started to ignore the worth God saw in me.
I may still struggle with these things at times, but it has taken me years to realise that I am worth it. I do have value. That I am good enough.
God thinks so. And that’s enough.
Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us, “6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I have read this passage over and over and yet it resonates deeper each time.
No matter what change I go through in life I know that there will be a level of fear and anxiety attached to it. I won’t have all the answers. But I know the One who does. I have to lean on Him and trust that He has it all figured out. He gives peace that surpasses all understanding, particularly in the midst of trials and pain, when the weights of fear and anxiety are overwhelming. It takes so much pressure off because I don’t need to make the final decisions or stress about outcomes. God has it covered if only I choose to trust in Him.
It’s a lesson I’m learning daily.