Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Strength, Pharmaceuticals, and Noah's Neighbor

One of the most interesting discoveries about this cancer journey is that I am so tired of people telling me how strong I am. If you've done this...don't worry I've already gotten over it. But, STOP! (And yes, Carol, please DO give that card to someone else.) Everyone's first thing they think of when they think of me is that fact. "You're the strongest person I know."

You see, to me it's really not a compliment. I know exactly where it comes from, but it registers in my mind as failure and conjures up bad memories. It used to be my greatest point of pride. (Pride...that's a whole other blog entry...we'll save that one.) I spent 20 years building the wall that it took to be that strong and it WAS true. I started young, and worked at it brick by brick into my 30's even. Defiant to authority, especially God. I didn't need anyone or anything. I did what I wanted when I wanted, always to the detriment of myself and sometimes to others. You were either with me or against me. And, I have the pirate scars to prove it, physically and emotionally. I had a lot of friends, but leaned on practically none of them. "Cross her and watch out!" That's how people viewed me because I wanted them to. That's what that statement means to me. Take it from someone who knows, it's an empty way to live, because we weren't built to live that way.

Then came the day when I realized that the "Yvette" plan was not going to work, kinda like that healthcare bill we're talking about now. There was just no way. I was dying inside and completely miserable. Then, my friend Sharon invited me to Fellowship Church. It was so different. Church had changed in the last 18 years! In fact, I wasn't sure it was for real because I was enjoying it! But, the messages truly were Biblical. I still remembered my Bible lessons I was teethed on. This church WAS for real, just packaged in a way that made sense. It wasn't the "because I said so" version of church I grew up with. Our pastor, Ed, explained the same biblical principles in a new way, a way that showed me why I was miserable and a way that showed me how to apply it to let God change my life. I wanted to be changed, I wanted to be different. So, I started to attend, then joined, started to volunteer, and began taking every class I could get my hands on in FC Studies. Today, I'm not that "strong" woman I used to be. My strength comes from my relationship with Jesus. It's HIS strength you see today, not mine. There's no other strength like it! So, don't tell me I'm strong because thankfully, it just isn't true anymore. The burden has been lifted!

That brings me to cancer, a walk with Christ, and pharmaceuticals. A weird thing happens when you find out that your own body has decided to try and kill you. It messes with your brain in unbelievable ways. Then, the doctors offer you drugs to help you through this time. It's a candy store of options. Depression, anxiety, sleep-aides, and that's just some of the optional ones. If you think like me, that just doesn't seem OK. Partially, because the OLD Yvette would never have admitted the need. (She still shows up sometimes.) So, I said, "No thanks." But the panic, nights with no sleep...they don't go away. So then on the flip side, I started to doubt the strength of my faith. I think crazy things like if my faith was really strong enough, I wouldn't even be considering any of these options. I shouldn't need them, any of them. God is all I need. I KNOW that's true. "Again, No Thanks." It was a real battle. I was dealing with physical effects and feelings that I had never experienced before. At times, they were overwhelming. In fact, on more than one occasion I have fallen completely apart in public, with perfect strangers, or over something minuscule. But for some reason I believed that if I reached out for the help, I was compromising my faith, once again failing even though it's very temporary. So, why did I make the call to the doctor admitting this "failure" and asking for the help?

Because, I remembered the story of Noah's neighbor. By the way, this one isn't in The GOOD BOOK. It's a joke wrapped in some insight. You know the story...Noah built the ark, spent a REALLY long time working on it. Everyone thought he was crazy! Then he loaded it up with the animals, his family, and the rains came. So, it rains for a while, Noah floats by his neighbor..."You want on the ark?", he asks. "No", says his neighbor, "it's gonna stop raining." So, Noah the animals and family float on by. The next time they float by, the neighbor is on the top floor of his house, waters rising and he refuses help once more. They float on by. The next time, he's on the roof, water lapping at his feet, refusing to get on board. Finally, the neighbor drowns and finds himself before God. He's pretty mad, "Why didn't you save me, God?" And, God says, "What are you talking about?? I sent Noah by to get you 3 times!"

To make it through this, I definitely need Jesus. That's FIRST and FOREMOST. But, I also need my family and friends, my church, my doctors, and as it turns out some pharmaceuticals for a little while. The doctors know how this cancer thing works. When they say you need a little help here or there, you probably do. It's temporary, it doesn't mean your faith has failed. In fact, some of the help I've said yes to has given me the clarity to see how He's using this experience, and keeping me from drowning in this cancer just like Noah's neighbor.


kitykity said...

When you talk about allowing yourself to use pharmaceuticals, it makes me think of people who pray and pray for their child, but refuse them medicine or medical attention, and they die. God created doctors and the medecines they have provided too... right? I don't see it a weakness to make use of these gifts--if God didn't want them on Earth, they wouldn't be here.

On that note, I have to disagree with you a bit on the strength thing. I wouldn't be a good friend if I agreed with you all the time. Yes, your strength comes *from* God, but it is *within you.* That makes it YOUR strength, even if its source is our great Lord. Maybe I just think about that differently in my mind than you do, but anyways... hope that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Hey Girl! Been thinking of you pretty much constantly. Your blogs are so great because they let me know how you're doing inside and out. I know that this has been the most difficult time in your life as well as a time in which you are learning the most about who you are and what you are capable of. I'm proud of you, I hope you are too. And like your friend above wrote, God created everything; including pharmaceuticals. So use them with confidence, you will be blessed. Hope I can get up there soon to see you and the boy. My car was totalled by the stupid tree so I'm not sure when now. Keep writing, I really love feeling like I know what is going on. I love you Yvette, all of us love you. Hang on to that when the barf comes and the hair lands on the floor. You are beautiful just because you are here. We need you and are so glad you have made the hard decisions and have decided to use the big guns in order to stick around. Brayden has an amazing mother, did you know that?
Your sis-in-law, Kim


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