I count myself as blessed to have been raised in a Christian home. My parents provided a loving home built upon the strong foundation of Christ. My childhood however, was far from typical.
If I have learned one thing in this short life, it is this: Life rarely pans out the way you hope or expect it to. Life does not conform to our whims and desires, thankfully so. I can only shudder at the idea of a world where I was in absolute control. What a mess I would make!
My parents hardly wished for a baby who would suffer from childhood cancer, but that was indeed their lot. I for one, would never have inflicted an illness upon myself, however such an illness has proved to be the catalyst I needed to open my eyes to all that life has in store.
I was diagnosed with Leukemia, a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells, at the ripe age of five. My childhood from that moment on took place in the unsettlingly sterile environment of a cold, white hospital room. Surrounded by constant pain and death, it was scarcely the ideal stomping ground for a youngster.
Though I was young, I was able to witness the power of my parents’ faith and the peace and hope that it gave them. At the age of seven, on my way back to the hospital, I asked my dad to pull over. There on the side of the road I asked Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior. At the time, I didn’t fully grasp all that such a decision encompasses but I found strength and comfort in knowing I was securely in God’s hands. By God’s infinite grace and mercy, I have been in remission since I was thirteen.
At fifteen, the doctors discovered a hole in my heart during a routine checkup. I was going to need open heart surgery. It was during this period of my life that I really began to make my parent’s faith my own. I clung to my Heavenly Father and committed my circumstances to prayer. Once again, He provided me with undeserved mercy. The hole closed on its own accord. I would not need the surgery. At least that’s what the doctor said; I knew my Daddy had closed the hole.
I have not survived the ordeal unscathed however. Rightfully or wrongfully so, I have carried with me a burden for the families who lost their loved ones while I live on. I struggle with understanding why I was allowed to live and so many others were to die. It has taken me many years and countless prayers to come to a simple understanding: I may never know. What I do know is this – God’s ways are not my ways, nor are His thoughts my thoughts. However, His plans are to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future. I must trust in that.
This burden I feel for these families has proved over the years to be both a blessing and a curse. I feel that to waste the life I was given, would be synonymous with spitting in their faces. To waste even a single moment would be to utterly dishonor their loss.
As a blessing, this burden has granted me a unique perspective that I am ever grateful for having received. It has challenged me to be a part of something bigger than myself. To make a true and lasting difference in this short blink of an eye that I’m here on this earth. To make the most of this fleeting breath of life that I’m given and live life in abundance.
As a curse, this burden has further exaggerated my natural inclination toward perfectionism. Of course it is self-inflicted pressure that I feel, but regardless I can not seem to shake it. It has caused undue pain and strife for as we all know, I am unfortunately human. I fall more often than I rise. Everyday is a battle of wills between flesh and spirit – a battle in which flesh prevails all too regularly. Oh, but those sweet moments when, with Christ’s strength, I die to self and the spirit reigns…they drive me on, empowered to fight another day.
This daily battle is what led me to the written word. It offers a release and opens my eyes to unshakable truth. As I liquify my heart through writing, my prayer is to be a voice for this generation of lost souls. Acknowledging and personally relating to their legitimate struggles and fears, in the hopes of providing some comfort and wisdom to a troubled and dying world.
To all who have lost loved ones seemingly before their time, I honor you in this: I rise each day with the prayer that I will go to bed a better, wiser person than when I awoke.