I can look back with 20/20 hindsight and see how God has been preparing me for this journey. The last year, particularly, has been a time of real personal growth and introspection. Had this occurred a year or two ago, I think I would have dealt with it badly. But I have worked on specific issues that are exactly what I need to get me through this crisis – issues like genuinely understanding and accepting God’s great love for me, that he isn’t just mad at me all the time and judging all the mistakes I make, he really does love me and accept me for exactly who I am. That is something very easy to hear and know, and very hard sometimes to actually believe and understand. However, once that became Truth in my heart, it really changed my life.
I attended a study of a book called Search for Significance. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. But I will say that there is an interesting difference between learning and believing that my identity and security come from my position in Christ and his love for me, not what other people think of me or how i look or perform; and the reality of standing in a mirror with my hands full of my own hair. I had strands hanging everywhere and looked at least 60. But I was able to hold on to what I was taught and what I knew was true – that my reality is what God says about me, not what people think of this temporary shell I walk around wearing.
One very specific thing that I know God did to prepare me, was a writing by Chuck Swindol. I get a devotional by email every morning, and one day I got something that touched me so much that I printed it and taped it to the side of my computer so I could read it daily. About three weeks later, I was diagnosed with cancer. It reads:
Nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing. Whatever occurs, God has sovereignly surveyed and approved. We may not know why, but we do know our pain is no accident to Him who guides our lives.
Everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively. Everything. Since my Heavenly Father is committed to shaping me into the image of His Son, He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience. It is being used to empty our hands of our own resources, our own sufficiency, and turn us back to Him—the faithful Provider. And God knows what will get through to us.
There’s not much else to say after that. Except that I know God knew and planned how to take this awful circumstance, and turn it into something to bring him glory in ways we haven’t even imagined.
And now, I keep falling asleep as I am trying to type, so I will say goodnight…
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10