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There are many books I want to write in my lifetime. Many about communication. But there’s one book I had to write first.
In the next few weeks it will be available on Amazon.com.
Four years ago I was shocked when I tested positive for BRCA2, a genetic mutation that carries with it an 87% chance of breast cancer over a woman’s lifetime. Eighty-seven percent chance. If I was a bettin’ woman, I would say that’s a pretty good chance.
With 4 precious boys I want to see grow up, I wasn’t willing to take the chance. So, 4 years ago this week, I underwent a preventative bilateral mastectomy.
My friend Cindy Kreidel was there in the hospital to support me. I still remember her wearing her pink bandana, reading Scripture and praying over me before I was wheeled back to the operating room.
Just 5 weeks later, my friend Vanessa was diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy. I pulled out the Scriptures and thoughts that had given me strength and passed them on to her. And soon, I was with Vanessa in the same hospital, in the same waiting room Cindy had waited with me, only this time I was the one wearing the pink bandana.
A few weeks later my next-door neighbor, Linda, was diagnosed. My heart broke for her, and I again passed on the Scriptures and thoughts that had given me comfort. And then, a few weeks later, I was there again in the same hospital, in the same waiting room that had now become so familiar.
As other friends and neighbors have been diagnosed and have anticipated their mastectomies, I have been deeply burdened for them as they await this monumental surgery and have wanted to offer comfort and hope.
So, over the past few years, I have been writing a devotional. It’s titled, The Faith to Free-Fall: Preparing Your Spirit for Your Mastectomy. Now, I realize it’s not going to be a NYT Best-Seller (yes, you can laugh), but it’s still the first book I had to write.
It’s a short book- just 10 brief chapters. A woman in this situation is inundated with medical materials to read and usually has only a week or two to anticipate her surgery, so it’s thin and non-intimidating. But it’s chock full of spiritual truth and biblical hope to give her strength to face this monumental surgery.
With this being the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month and the 4-year anniversary of my mastectomy, I will be posting excerpts from my first book, The Faith to Free Fall.
This first chapter is titled, “Shock.”
Regardless of your gender or situation, I pray it will minister to you today.
The doctor’s lips move, announcing the news. You hear, but you don’t hear. The words sear your ears and you shut out the noise, the news. Numb, you still have to walk. Out of the office, to the car.
You drive, numb. Stop lights blink colors, drivers mindlessly turn their wheels, yet how can the world keep on spinning when your world has stopped? You jab numbers, call family, choke out the facts.
Who am I talking about again? Not me. Really? Me?
Voices offer compassion, advice, even Scripture and prayers. But it’s hard to take in. It’s hard to feel anything at all. Except shocked.
Shock is our body’s defense, our mind’s compensation for a lightning strike. But the spirit, that core part of us where our emotions and character live, can’t stay in denial for long. It wakes, blinks, incredulous exclamation, and then dives down again in hopes of waking to a different dream.
Pamphlets, percentages, decisions. The numbers and facts swirl like a tornado. Opinions, advice pummels, and your hands go to your head, overwhelmed. Shocked.
I know how you feel. You’re not alone. I’ve been there. Millions of people before us have been there.
And in those moments when our spirit surfaces, we can’t help but ask, “Where is God in all this?” Is He shocked, too? Hands to His divine head? Mouth open, incredulous?
I turn to Psalm 139:16, where David the Psalmist writes, “…in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” God knows the number of our days before we were even born.
I read Isaiah 40:12 where God “measures the waters in the hollow of His hand and marks off the heavens by the span.” Our God knows the number of drops in the seas and the inches of the sky.
He’s the One who painstakingly fingers each star into place and spins Jupiter perfectly in its orbit. The One who draws the boundary of the tide and commands the morning sun to rise.
God isn’t shocked.
Not only can He not be shocked, but He knows. And He knew.
Psalm 139 tells us that God is “intimately acquainted with all our ways,” and that “even before a word is on our tongue,” He knows what we are going to say. So when the doctor told you the news, God already knew what you would hear. And when you choked out the facts on the phone to your loved one, He already knew what you would say.
He isn’t shocked, He knows, and He will carry you through this.
When I was shocked at my news, afraid of what lay ahead, my friend Karthi taught me to pray a breath prayer- a prayer that takes just a breath’s time to pray. It was a prayer that came from the depths of my spirit, crying out to God.
My prayer was this: “Good Shepherd, carry me.” It’s the picture of a lamb on the shepherd’s shoulders, being carried over rough terrain, through wolf-infested fields. That lamb was me. That lamb is you.
It’s a prayer to pray not just once, but often. Every time the shock strikes your soul again. Every time the fear creeps in. Breathe. Pray.
Because the decision to entrust your journey to the Good Shepherd is a continual one.
So, right now, as you read this, let your spirit pray as you breathe out, “Good Shepherd, carry me.” Breathe in. Breathe out, “Good Shepherd, carry me.”
And if you let Him, He will. And that’s a promise.
Good Shepherd, carry me. I don’t have the strength to carry myself. Thank you that You aren’t shocked. Thank you that You know, that You knew this news before I did. Thank You that You have gone before me and that You will go with me on this journey. I don’t understand Your ways, but I know You are asking me to trust You. To trust You to carry me through tomorrow, the next day, the next week. You are my Good Shepherd and I need You. Please carry me. Amen.