Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
As a Counselor, I have listened to those embittered at God over unfair circumstances in life. So what makes someone do just the opposite, find peace in the midst of the storm? I believe it is the unshakable faith that all things work together for good, even the challenges! Nothing really matters except one purpose in life: to glorify God and make Him known. Knowing this . . . what can life ultimately do to us?
Below is the second part of my interview with a remarkable cancer survivor, Connie. Her purpose in revealing her story is to encourage others who are enduring hardships to find strength and faith in spite of the circumstances.
Ellie: Could we discuss lifestyle changes? Knowing that stress leads to acute illness, what steps have you taken to de-stress your life?
Connie: I have removed a few stressful relationships from my life. There were situations I couldn’t change so I simply walked away.
Sounds like a personal Serenity Prayer.
Yes, I don’t regret moving on and it helped me heal. I also rely on prayer, music, walks in the woods, humor and quiet time with God.
What did you eventually discover about yourself?
I discovered that perfection is nothing I need from me or anyone else. I do my best, but I no longer strive to be “perfect”. I learned that when other people want to help out, I should step aside and let them. That wasn’t easy, however. But if it helps them . . . it helps me.
What part has exercise played in your recovery?
I was very weak when I finished chemo. It was very depressing to still feel so sick when the doctor said “we’re done”. I started with water therapy two months after treatment. The pool was warm, and the water felt so good. It was a gentle way to move without risk of injury. After 6-8 months, I got serious about exercise. I went to a local rehab facility and worked out for an hour, three times a week. I regained strength and muscle mass. At the end of a year, I walked in a 5K and placed 3rd in my age group. I did two additional 5K’s after that and continue to exercise. For my mind and body, exercise is a must! It relieves stress and keeps my body functioning well.
As you look back on this experience, what was the most important aspect you took away from it?
I learned to savor the good days and just endure the bad days. The good days were like a warm bath, soothing, comforting, sustaining. The bad days were a challenge, something to overcome, but I knew they wouldn’t last. A good day would come along soon.
My emotions were all over the place, and I learned to just “feel” whatever was happening that day. It seemed important to acknowledge my emotions, give them a name and then file them away. I learned from my emotions. Some were not pretty and I didn’t want to return to them. The happy times filled me with so much joy, and that joy splashed over onto the bad days. For me, my grandchildren took me out of reality and into their world of joy and laughter. I could relive those moments later and experience that joy all over again. My family was amazing! There was laughter amidst the storm.
They do say that laughter is the best medicine. What would you say to encourage others who might be faced with similar health challenges?
There isn’t a right or wrong way to feel and everyone handles adversity in their own way. I didn’t expect anyone else to make me happy. I didn’t want to burden a loved one or a friend with trying to make me happy. What if they failed? Then we would both suffer. I took whatever emotion I had on a particular day and tried to make the best of it. God sustains.
Connie’s interview will continue tomorrow as we discuss dietary changes, revealing some interesting facts about her life.