Posted by: gaylejervis | May 17, 2010

DEFENDING MY LIFE

Last week I watched the movie, Defending Your Life in which people who died had to defend how they lived on earth.  If they lived well, they were able to continue on to heaven; otherwise they were sent back to earth. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would fare if I had to defend my life.  I really believe I have tried very hard not to whine and complain about this illness and I have tried to live as fully as I could with all of these health symptoms.  However, since having this radical hysterectomy in March, I am not dealing with all of my limitations with the same grace or patience.  Like the characters in this movie who are told that it was their fears while living on earth that prevented them from living abundantly, my fear has assumed a stronghold and I feel like I am on a ride that is dehydrating me from constant vomiting and retching!

It is so easy to forget to call out like David,  “From the ends of the earth I will cry out to you.   When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalms 61:1)  I feel such shame that I have succumbed to self-pity when I have managed to resist that negative emotion for so many years.  I feel such guilt when I think of other people’s tougher circumstances.  But those feelings do not erase the fact that when I look in the mirror and visibly see time passing, I long to be fully engaged in living passionately, enthusiastically, and purposefully before I die.

Paradoxically, all of these negative emotions are occurring at the same time I am experiencing some progress!,   Last week, I was  able to leave the house and participate in a few activities with other people.  However, my patience is being greatly tested since I am angry that I have to expend so much effort and energy while doing these small things; I am angry how my health affects my enjoyment.  Sadly, I don’t have the same gratitude to enjoy these outings to whatever extent my health permits during those activities.  No, I want much, much more!

I think I coped during these past 13 years by convincing myself that I had “time” to get better, “time” to do all the things I want to do, “time” before I needed energy to enjoy my grandchildren.  But this unexpected cancer reminded me that my thinking was naïve.  None of us knows how much time we have and since I am already nearing the end of my 50’s, time is already running out!

Interestingly, I believe God has been trying to get my attention to focus on my fear since latterly no matter what I read, hear, and watch, the insidious word “fear” surfaces.  Therefore, I know it wasn’t just a coincidence that when I received the latest Growing Child News Letter, one of its topics was how to help a two year deal with his fears!  I related to the author’s   description of a confident child who may  become “hesitant and wary when she finds herself in a new and strange situation.”  My generally confident approach to my chronic illness has become much more hesitant and wary.   I think that response started when I began seeing a new doctor who gave me hope to believe I could be healed and then I proceeded to be pummeled continually with setbacks.  My wariness increased when I was diagnosed with cancer and my treatment was put on hold while I had the surgery.

My fearful response may not be completely rational but again this author reassures me when she writes,  “Such fears, though they may seem trivial to an adult, are entirely sensible from the child’s point of view”.  I have gotten so preoccupied with how my fear is shameful and embarrassing and how it is a poor reflection on my faith with God that I have forgotten how important it is to acknowledge that from my point of view the fear is very real and yes, even rational, and that God doesn’t think less of me when I succumb to that fear.

Perhaps this author’s best advice is, “Talk to your child calmly. Don’t pressure her to hug Aunt Mary or pet the nice, big doggie. Give her a chance to recover her balance. Then over a period of time give her frequent opportunities to learn more about the feared object or situation.”  Just as you don’t ridicule the fearful child  or belligerantly  challenge her to overcome the fear, I cannot continually criticize myself when I become afraid that I will never experience wellness again.   I cannot be continually apologetic for unexpected tears and I cannot tell myself anymore to just “snap out of this”!

The author of this article   encourages parents to “work gently but persistently to help her conquer any fear”,  I too need to practice kindness and  gently remind myself that I can overcome my fear that my new doctor has given me false hope.    And when I fail, I need to practice gentleness and tenderly remind myself to call on God who doesn’t give me fear but a sound mind.  With this kind of consistent but gentle persistence,  I will be able overcome my fear concerning my illness, and whether I remain ill or finally become well,  I like to believe  that I could successfully defend my life since the quality of my life will not indefinitely be compromised by fear.

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Responses

  1. I think all of us wonder if we are accomplishing anything with our lives. Life is short life and there is so much to do. How can we do it all? How can we do it ALL well? Those thoughts alone can wear us out! Yet, one day at a time must be the answer. Go at it slow and steady. Be hopeful. Trust in God. I believe this is the answer.

    I have an old book called ‘Words of comfort and cheer’ by Mrs. Charles Cowman. In it, I read this poem which I hope brings you comfort and hope as does for me. No credit is given to the writer so I cannot do so either.

    The Tired Heart

    “Dear Lord, I bear a tired heart tonight
    And need that thou shouldst come and comfort me,
    For well I know what rest and peace will come
    Upon the weary soul which turns to Thee.

    “Take thou my lifted hands within Thine own,
    And let me know that prayer will bring Thee near,
    And that no cry of pain or sigh for help
    Will fail to reach Thine ever-listening ear.

    “So though I bear a tired heart tonight,
    I know that Thou wilt come and comfort me,
    And with the morn the heaviness will pass,
    And joy will come because of trust in Thee.”


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