Updated: Jan 12
I can’t control the fact that I have a tumor on my salivary gland or the fact that I had an odd biopsy result that no doctor seems to be able to explain that indicates leukemia. The reality is, we have minuscule amounts of control over life occurrences or the behavior of other people. We do have control of our own attitude and actions in response to the things that we cannot control. I can remain in self-pity, fear, panic, worry, anger etc., and trust me, I have definitely spent my fair share of time choosing this option, or I can step into a higher level of thinking and choose faith, joy, and growth. This experience has been a powerful lesson in letting go of control and choosing to go higher into a faith mindset.
I am not trying to say that we should stifle our feelings. While very unpleasant, it’s essential to feel, and to feel deeply. This makes us touchable and opens us up to deep connection. It strengthens our compassion and sensitivity for those around us making us capable of understanding and relating to others. The more we are real with ourselves and others, the more we open ourselves up to the capacity to connect. Our surface-level, instant-response, feelings have a critical place in our self-exploration and growth.
However, if we choose to stay on that surface level and not see things from a higher level of thinking, we become lost in our circumstances. There is a place within us where we can be at peace and have joy regardless of what is happening in our lives. A little over a year ago, Erik was fired from his nursing job because he refused to go against our beliefs and get vaccinated. Not too long before this, I made the decision to only work part time and to stay home with our baby. So, there we were, jobless, persecuted, and even doubting whether or not we belonged in this country. I was consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, hopelessness etc. One day in the midst of our woes, while Erik and I were driving in the car, God raised me up to this higher level of thinking. It was like the weight of heavy dressers lifted off my shoulders, and I realized that I did not have to worry or carry any of those things. In that moment, there was so much clarity and freedom from all that was shackling me down. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” 2 Corinthians 3:17. I sat in the passenger side as we drove up the hill towards home just basking in this and taking in a beautiful sunset.
This wasn’t a time where God waved a magic wand and suddenly I was changed. I went home, and was worried, stressed, terrified, and doubting everything just like before, but I did have that revelation that there was another way to be. I have been chipping away at understanding this since then. When I think of a person of faith, I think of my childhood pastor, Jim VanDenHouten Sr. This man had some serious unshakable faith. All the doctors thought he was going to die, but he didn’t worry because God told him he was going to “feed the people,” and that’s what he did. He started a church, had a weekly food pantry and fed the people spiritually and physically until he was an old man. One day, the powers that be in the church were worried because there wasn’t enough money to pay the bills to keep the church running. Annoyingly to them, he didn’t worry or get flustered because “God would provide.” That Sunday a non-regular church member came and donated thousands of dollars to the church. There was story after story like those where his faith was put to the test, and in those moments, he rested in God. He understood how to tap into the peace that passes all understanding.
Just before I found my tumor, I asked God to show me how to have faith like that. Be careful what you pray for people, because I’m pretty sure this is the answer to my prayer. Anytime anything “bad” happened, Pastor Jim would say, “Isn’t it exciting to see what God is going to do next?!” You know what, it always did end up being exciting. Sometimes, we need a rude awakening to spark change. Erik is now a small business owner of the thriving Sunflower Remodeling LLC. It was an unsettling journey, but God used our struggle to change our lives for the better. So, now, with the roll of my eyes, I begrudgingly surrender to the “Isn’t this exciting?!” mentality. I must say, God is already creating beauty and growth out of my health struggles. Our response to things is where our power is. It is what shapes who we are and what we become. I am choosing to have patience, kindness, and compassion with my anxieties, fears, and doubts allowing them to teach me something about myself, while I reroute my neural pathways to a place of peace, joy, and faith amidst the storms that life throws at us.