In 61 years of living, if I could choose one entire year to live over again…2019 would NOT be it. Whew. That year was a doozy. It was hard. I’ve seen many people assigning a word to 2019 and a word they have in mind as they enter 2020. For me – 2019 was not one word, but three. It was the year of shutting the gate.
When I was diagnosed with cancer I was forced to make some major changes in my behaviors and in my thinking and ultimately, it has brought some much needed changes in my life.
The first thing I had to shut the gate on was fear. I don’t believe I will ever forget the fear that wrapped around my neck and how it got tighter with each diagnosis.
I could hardly breath, I could hardly see straight, and I had no idea how to live out this “new normal” in my life. How does one live with a very real threat of death hanging over their shoulder?
I had to find a way to slam the gate shut on fear – over and over and over. I learned to refuse fear. I learned to pray with greater intensity, to ask for prayer, hang onto the promises of scripture, and to the truth of who God IS. Little by little…instead of being fearful – I feared less. There were even a few bright moments when I felt FEARLESS.
As I practiced shutting the gate – fear began to take less space in my life and it no longer held it’s power over me.
”For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20
The second thing I learned to shut the gate on was cancerous thoughts. I knew that my chances for survival would be greatly increased if I was able to have a pure and peaceful heart and mind. The gate in front of my cancerous thoughts was swinging like a fan as I struggled to manage my thoughts. It was literally a spiritual battle.
I had to learn to shut the gate on all the thoughts of the hurts and wounds from my past. Each time one of those old thoughts rose to the surface – once and for all – I had to LET.IT.GO. No matter what another broken person said or did that was unkind, unfair, or untrue – I forced myself to shut the gate.
Every so often I found myself tempted to “nurse” old wounds and would open the gate of my own accord. Each time I fell to that temptation I ended up finding myself right in the middle of my own prison stuck behind the gate with all of my other junk. I learned quickly that if I was to heal from cancer, I needed to be rid of all negative thoughts.
I learned to slam the gate on thoughts that were critical, judgmental, or angry. And I had to eliminate all “poor me” victim sort of thoughts because the “poor me” girl was not going to be healed.
The more I learned to deny these thoughts – the less fierce the battle became. While I do not have this mastered, I don’t have to shut the gate as often anymore.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Taking thoughts captive… This required me to be obedient to Christ by giving Him my thoughts. And in doing so…I have found a new kind of peace.
There is one area where I shut the gate, but I did not put a padlock on it. Within the first week of my diagnosis, I was warned repeatedly from my doctors and advisors that I would be more successful if I avoided relationships in my life that were unhealthy. My journey was about healing and being in an unhealthy relationship would be counter productive for me.
In some cases, instead of fighting for the relationship or trying harder, I had to simply let it go and leave it with the Lord. My first job was to heal, but the gate will always be left ajar.
I absolutely love this prayer by Mary Demuth titled “The Relationship Prayer” –
Jesus, Help us to know when to pursue, when to back down, when to let go, when to open up, when to share, when to listen, when to release, when to love well, when to forgive, when to give up bitterness, when to humble ourselves, when to stand up, when to pray.
We give you every. single.one. of our relationships – the awesome ones, the ones that drain, the ones conflicted, the ones confusing, the ones stumbling back, the ones familial, the ones filled with addictions, the ones far from Jesus, the ones of many years, the ones of a few weeks, the ones online, the ones in person.
Help us love well, release well, speak well, and listen exceedingly well. Amen.
The final thing I have shut the gate on is CANCER. I am done with treatments and done identifying myself as a cancer patient.
I guess on some levels, cancer will always be a part of my life. I still have some stories to tell that I have not yet told. And I will never forget how cancer grew my relationship with the Lord.
In the past 5 months I grew to know the Lord on such a deep level there were times I could almost physically feel His presence and audibly hear His voice. I didn’t, of course, but almost.
I have shut the gate on 2019 and I have shut the gate to anything that keeps me from living healed. I know its a continuing process, but I have learned how to fight for it and I will keep fighting.
Today I close the door on 2019. I will savor the lessons learned and the joys that arose from tribulation. Today I take a deep breath as I step into a new year, open some new doors, and start the next chapter of my story.
And this much I know…
No matter what may happen in the years up ahead, I know without a doubt that God is the Author of my life and I can trust the story.
He is sovereign, He is faithful, and HE IS GOOD.
Until next time,