Some of my earliest memories are of being in church. I cut my teeth on hymns such as “Have a Little Talk with Jesus” and “He Set Me Free.”
When my family experienced adversity and gradually ceased attending church, the memories of church and importance of knowing Jesus was so strong I knew only that I needed my bible and my Jesus. By my teen years, I was turning to the bible to get through the day. As my body weakened from the cancer, my spirit grew in strength with regular Bible reading and prayer.
The guide book for life’s excruciating times is always in my bedside table. Many times my family has found itself in the hospital with medical emergencies and with those times, the guidebook was always nearby. The guidebook I speak of is the Bible.
When thinking of Bible verses that I take comfort in the most, I think of John: Chapter 9, Verse 3.
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (NLT).
I am someone who was diagnosed with cancer at ages 9, 15, and 31. In between times there were many scares and I’ve undergone somewhere between 21 and 26 operations (depends on if you ask my mom or my dad). I have Cowden Syndrome and cancer is an issue I will face time and again until I die. The name for this condition wasn’t known until I was tested in 2007. Until then, I dealt with comments such as, “you wouldn’t have these medical problems if you had more faith”. For many years, I blamed this condition on hurting God’s feelings. We all hurt God’s feelings and no sin is any worse than the other. Problems in life, and that includes medical problems, arise because when Adam and Eve sinned God cursed the ground. Our bodies come from the ground and are therefore imperfect and cursed. While some lifestyle habits lead to increased odds of medical conditions, other times they simply happen. It is a part of being human. In our weaknesses, God’s power is manifest. When a medical problem arises, I remember someone may see him in it through me and it no longer becomes a problem.
I’ve often wondered how many people wish they could travel backward in time and change some of the decisions they made. Going through the cancer relapse at age 15 was one of the roughest times of my life. I was certain the cancer would come back for the following fifteen years. There was one verse of the bible I often turned to simply by asking God what he wanted me to know and turning to the page. The verse is found in Jeremiah Chapter 29, Verse 11.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you future and a hope” (NLT).
My regret in missing so much youth because of worry and anxiety over cancer was needless had I trusted in that verse. The Christian is in a remarkable position even when receiving life/death news. For example, when given a terminal cancer diagnosis, we know cancer stays only with the body. The young friends I have lost to cancer haven’t lost any battle. God was ready for them to come home. I’m not a lawyer, driving a Viper and entering politics like I thought I wanted at the age of 16. I’m a mom in spite of three female related cancers and in spite of an often “unable” body; I know I can do anything I’m meant to do. Did God give me future and a hope? God most definitely did. The functioning of my body in spite of everything brought two lives into this world. My quiet and simple nature is more suited to being a mom to two special children who also have Cowden Syndrome than law and politics. God knew this when I was conceived. It is proven by how in tumor board at my hospital the vote was 52-48 against radiation. If they had voted differently, my children would have been physically unable to be here. This decision happened in 1992 to ensure my 2003 baby and 2005 baby would be here.
I have a difficult time relating to other people. A part of this is from being painfully introverted and shy while a part is from not understanding the way others are. As a mature Christian, I now realize this feeling is common within all of us. The tendency of everyone is to focus on him or herself. Sometimes, especially in marriages, I think we forget what love is. My favorite verse specific to love is from 1 Corinthians 13:4.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (NIV). The most perfect example of love is what Christ gave us. We will never reach that goal but should never stop trying. Never is it more important for humility and biblical love to exist than in the family with those we see sin the most and with those who see us sin the most. This verse is inspirational to me because it sounds so basic but is often very difficult. This type of love is easy for God though. Imagine genuine 110 percent unconditional love and do everything to put it into practice in your day-to-day life. The above verse was one I took comfort in when my husband and I almost separated as it reminded me that neither of us had been showing the other perfect love.
Growing up with much time spent in the hospital and little time spent among my peers left me very isolated. The hectic medical problems and added life contingencies prevented me from forming any friendships outside of family that have lasted into adulthood. Oftentimes when I went through chemotherapy as a teenager I felt friendless. One of the most incredible pieces of knowledge is simply this-Jesus is the best friend to each person who accepts him. For this reason, the shortest verse of the bible is one of the most inspirational to me. This verse comes from John Chapter 11, Verse 35
“Jesus wept” (NIV).
This verse in the bible follows the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. Jesus knew he would be raising Lazarus from the dead within the day but he still wept. How many of us attend funerals of our loved ones and weep even though we know we will see them in the end? It is neither unchristian nor improper to weep when someone we love passes away. The most comforting realization to me is knowing my every thought and feeling has been experienced by someone before. The Bible is a guidebook for the stresses, worries, sadness, and anxieties of life. It is a manual telling us to press on until we come home.
The base of my Christianity, the time spent in church before age nine was when I learned the books of the bible and certain important verses. One of the most visible Christian verses is Psalm 23, Chapter 4.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (NIV).
As a teenager going through chemotherapy, this verse taught me God remained with me even as I faced possible death. The sheer solitude expressed by this verse with “I” being the one to walk through the dark shadow of death is erased by YOU ARE WITH ME. As an older teenager and young woman in ended relationships, when I thought life couldn’t go on-he was with me! When the love of my life and I have problems-he’s with me! There is no human feeling that isn’t known by God. We are vile and may not believe we can be loved by God but we are. He’s with us no matter what happens. The Bible is packed with inspirational verses because it is his love letter to us.
I cut my teeth on “Have a Little Talk with Jesus” and “He Set me Free.” I went to church on Sundays, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights the first nine years of my life. I watched Billy Graham crusades when they interrupted our one local station. I intellectually inhaled everything I could about Christ and the Bible from other people. When hard times came in and I thought it was just me, I opened my Bible and realized differently. My best friend is in that book.