Raw pain. Open wounds. How does one learn how to live with these?

I remember back to when I was on Chemo treatments and the struggle that would come when Thursday mornings would roll around and I had to go into the hospital for yet another treatment that would leave my body heaving with nausea and thoroughly fatigued.

Everything in me did not want to wake up those mornings. I remember I would stay up as late as possible the night before and then sleep as long as I could before getting up and heading over to the “Chemo room.”

I remember asking my kind nurse questions about the chemo that was being pumped into my body; questions about how she would prepare it behind those big heavy doors—not because I didn’t trust her, but because I was curious and wanted to know. I remember how she told me that she had to wear a mask and gloves that went up to her elbows because if she dripped the chemicals on her skin, the chemicals would begin to eat away at her skin.

And that’s going into my body?

Yet, deep down inside I knew there was no way around it, and that ultimately these treatments that felt like poison dripping into my veins would be good for me in the long run. The doctors are far more educated than I am in understanding what was happening in my body, and they had my best in mind. They longed as much as I did to see healing. I saw the pain in my nurse’s eyes as she approached me each week with the hook needle and when she gave new “flushings” of saline and heparin. I felt her care and encouragement with every 3 hour dose of chemotherapy during those rough 18 months.

I remember how Mom and I would watch for rainbows and butterflies and other signs from God to remind us He was in control and was walking with us down the path He had chosen for us. Eventually, there was light at the end of the tunnel and my treatments came to an end. The long Thursday mornings, the nausea—it was all over and life returned back to “normal”.  Nevertheless, I’ve always looked back on those days with the realization that, although I would never ask for them to be back, I would never trade the experiences God had given me because God had taught me so much—he had shown me aspects of Himself that I never would have seen otherwise.

And now God has brought me down a new path. He has allowed me to experience a new kind of pain. And He, the perfect Doctor, knows what’s best for me. He wants what is best for me, and He will only do what is best for me and will bring Him most glory.

He knows that in the long run it can produce beautiful results.  But those beautiful results cannot be seen or experienced without the pain or the process of experiencing the pain—the weekly infusions…the intense nausea and exhaustion…

Just as the chemotherapy infusions were needed in order to stop the growing tumor in my brain, so also the wise and loving Doctor knows that this tragedy, this process of experiencing pain can produce the good kinds of growth that are needed in my life if I allow it.

This weekend has been one of raw pain as reality continues to show itself. Some days it is like receiving hourly doses of chemotherapy, and my insides want to completely reject it.

And I’m once again reminded of the power of choices:

The choice to believe even when I don’t want to, that God is good.

The choice to be okay with feeling and experiencing pain every single day—to accept this calling in life

without giving a deadline for it to end.

The choice to believe that for as wrong as everything seems at times, He’s in control—He has a plan and

knows what He’s doing. He sees the big picture. I don’t.

The choice to focus on Christ and see the confirmations that He’s given me in the past weeks to

show me that He’s in this with me.

The choice to receive the love and gentleness that He’s lavished on me.

The choice to kneel in the midst of all the pain and worship my God and King and to acknowledge that

He is Lord.

The choice to let this make me a better person.

Surrender. I want it. I want to know more about it. Lord, show me more—show me how. 

Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. 
Oh my people, trust in him at all times
Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”
Ps. 62:5-8

13 thoughts on “Surrender

  1. Ernest-Rachel Witmer says:

    My dear daughter,

    You are so right!

    Somehow I believe it’s not the experience of our loss that will become the defining moment of our lives, but rather it is how we respond to this loss that will largely determine the quality, the direction, and the impact of our lives from here forward.

    “Recovery” from such a loss in our lives is not only an unrealistic and even harmful expectation—if by recovery we mean resuming the way we lived and felt prior to Mom’s sudden death. But the kind of response of faith and worship for our completely sovereign, totally benevolent, and entirely redemptive God, as you have outlined here will make it possible for us to not only live in but be ENLARGED BY our loss. (my applications from A Grace Disguised –Jerry Sittser, as well as an email from Bro. Walter Beachy)

    Bless you Kristi!

  2. surrenderednfree says:

    This is beautiful and raw. Wow Kristi I am so proud of you and love you so very much. You mean the world to me and I love hearing your heart.

  3. hisprincess60 says:

    Praying for you Kristi… Grieving is so hard… I have my dad and 2 brothers in heaven waiting for me in heaven!!! God understands every emotion in our heart even more the we do anything from anger, fear, numbness… many feelings that I didn’t understand. There is one thing for sure though that HE understands… For 30 some years He watched as he was separated from His son who was here to die for us… We serve an amazing God who understands our heart even when we can’t!!!

  4. Carita says:

    Thank you for your soft heart toward God. . .I have much to learn from your example of spending time with Him– learning to rest and listen. Your parallel of this experience to your chemo experience is good…”Some days it is like receiving hourly doses of chemotherapy, and my insides want to completely reject it.” Yes.

    Love you!

  5. marilyn showalter says:

    Kristi, I pray God will strengthen your heart beyond your expectation and give you exactly what you need. You are a woman of incredible wisdom and grace for your age!! It is so good to hear your heart and the hearts of your family members during this difficult time. You have encouraged me so much!! When I feel like complaining I am reminded of your loss, your experience, your wisdom and courage and it helps!! Just know you are often in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs!

  6. Kathryn Nisly says:

    Your spirit is a beautiful reflection of Jesus in you. I remember watching a “little girl” mature into a lovely young lady full of grace and quiet strength during those chemo months and after. That was when I learned how much your mom loved rainbows and I watched as she showed me/us through that experience how she trusted God to always keep His word. You learned well, Kristi!

  7. Esther Bontrager says:

    I love your tender heart…i am challenged by: “I would never trade the experiences God has given me because He has taught me so much, shown me aspects of himself that I never would have seen otherwise.” This is so true and hope I never lose a grip on this. Esther

  8. Renita Rhodes says:

    Your analogy reveals the difficulty of the ‘hard thing’ that you are walking through … thanks so much for writing and letting us all see a glimpse into the pain. We are praying for you! Your choices are a challenge to me!
    Love you!

  9. Mark says:

    Kristi, As you share the “amazing grace” that you and your family are experiencing you encourage each of us, the body of Christ. Thanks for being willing and obedient. You have been given an anointing and a message for the Church.

  10. Kerra Troyer says:

    Praying for God’s grace to face all those dreaded ‘infusions’ and the raw, raw reality that mere living can bring some days. I am challenged by reading your post. God bless you for sharing your heart.

  11. LaRonda says:

    God spoke very gently and clearly to me as I read your words. If you can choose quiet trust in a time of such painful, ongoing grief, then surely, so can I. What I face feels like peanuts in comparison, but you give me courage to go on. Praying for your family, every day.

  12. Aurora Zhang says:

    Kristi, thank you soooo much for sharing your heart! And thank you for the devotional you gave me the other day. As I read it daily I think of you and your family too. Much love, Aurora

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