Posts Tagged ‘finding hope’

Imagine what life would be like without worry.   I remember that heady freedom I felt as a child  riding in the car with the windows down, long before child restraints became mandatory, my nose stuck out the window smelling the freshly cut grass, the wind rushing through my hair and a big smile on my face, ready for anything.

I thought that by this stage in life I would have worry all figured out.  I recall jumping onto a plane as a young woman full of nothing but excitement, anticipation and wondering whether I’d order a red or white wine once we took off.  I loved listening to Midnight Oil and Angels songs throbbing on my big old Walkman as the plane soured into the air. Taking off was my favourite part of the trip – so thrilling to feel the plane’s  power, energy and oomph as we climbed into the big blue sky.

These days flying is a very different matter.  The loud rock songs and delicious beverage decisions have vanished from my mind, and in their place are whispers of:  that guy in front of us looks a bit shifty – he could be a terrorist;  what was that grinding noise in the plane’s engine;  what if my son vomits all over the smart-looking woman next to him; my ankles are feeling puffy – I hope it’s not deep vein thrombosis;  did I switch off the iron before leaving the house?  And on and on it goes, relentless and immobilising.  Tapping my toes to Peter and Doc has become an exquisite and bittersweet memory.

Worry can act as a giant eraser, rubbing all the colour and beauty out of life.  I noticed this at the end of the school holidays when I visited a local café with my sons for breakfast.  After a long summer holiday I was feeling unusually relaxed and virtually worry-free.   We sat at the same table as last time – the very first day of the holidays – and I was amazed at the striking coloured graffiti on the wall in front of me.  I commented to my sons and one responded with: “It’s been there all along Mum”.  I disagreed as I’d never seen it before…  So when the waitress came along laden with cappuccino and milkshakes I told her how much I loved the new artwork.  “Oh, that was done before we opened the Café, it’s been there for quite a  while…”  Last time I was in the café I was so tired, stressed and full of anxiety that I didn’t even see all of this colour, movement and artistic expression, right in front of me!  It was an eerie moment of self awareness.  My worry was robbing me of all the best bits in life – the beautiful, special and the meaningful bits.

Yet when I reflect on the times I’ve had to face something really challenging, such as a medical diagnosis that could be fatal, I realise that hiding beneath the heavy layers of shock and despair was a tiny glimmer of hope.  Whether it was a line in a song on the radio,  a conversation overheard in the hospital lift, or simply the uplifting presence of a friend by my side – I caught a little glimpse of light that ignited something in my spirit. I knew I would get through this dark valley – there was a way through and a wellspring to sustain me.  Surely, this little glimmer can be ignited now too, when worry springs up uninvited like a weed threatening to strangle all the joy and colour out of life.

Big problems aren’t always solved with big solutions.  Do you know that a mustard seed is only 1-2 mm in diameter?  A wise man once said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move a mountain. It sounds like a crazy concept, I know, but there’s something in it.

So when those worrying whispers start up in my mind I look for the mustard seed of faith, wrapped in whispers of:   all will be well, you will get through this, things will get better – nothing stays the same, God loves you and nothing can separate you from his love, nothing is impossible, you have a purpose, don’t give up, never give up, just put one foot in front of the other and keep on going…

Seeds have an uncanny knack of taking root and growing.  If you dare to have that first little bit of faith and take a look a few years later, you realise that the seed has taken root and it’s growing taller, green shoots becoming stems and branches.  I’ve heard that in ideal conditions a mustard tree can grow to 3-5 metres tall.  Pretty impressive for a 1-2 mm seed.

So never underestimate small beginnings.  The wise man who told this story knew exactly what he was talking about.  He faced insurmountable challenges of his own with remarkable courage and grace.  Moving mountains seems easy compared with what this wise man actually did.  He transformed sickness into health, despair into hope, pain into comfort, oppression into freedom, prejudice and hate into compassion and love, and ultimately, life victorious over death.

I’m hopeful that one day I’ll be truly carefree again – window down and the wind in my face – strands of hair getting stuck in my teeth.  Maybe I’ll even take to the skies with the Oils or the Angels throbbing in my ears – wondering whether to order the white or the red – worry gone at last and freedom firmly in its place.






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Faith is the power to stand up to the madness and chaos of the physical world while holding the position that nothing external has any authority over what heaven has in mind for you.   Caroline Myss

We all know the direct link between smoking and lung cancer, and bad eating habits and heart disease, but do we balk at the idea of abuse in childhood leading to emotional instability as an adult, or unresolved anger leading to breast cancer in later life?    Are our bodies, minds and spirits so deeply intertwined that one invariably impacts upon the other?

Tonight I visited my doctor to go over some blood test results.   After suffering thyroid cancer, I no longer have a thyroid gland, and my thyroid levels have to be closely monitored.   Earlier in the year my levels were fine, but in February when my mother passed away I began to feel unwell.   Blood tests tonight revealed that my thyroid levels had dropped considerably, and my iron and vitamin D levels were also quite low.   My doctor agreed that the grief I’ve suffered has affected my blood levels resulting in my feelings of exhaustion and sadness.  I knew that my loss had made me feel depleted and low, but it was interesting to see how this played out physically.

There is no denying that we humans are complex creatures.   There is far more to us than our physical bodies, blood cells and heart rates.    We are emotional beings, with the capacity to experience a myriad of feelings, from the joy of deep love, to the anguish of despair and loss.   We are also spiritual beings, with a soul capable of intuitive thought, insight and wisdom.    Even those who do not pursue any form of organised religion are sometimes surprised by moments of spiritual enlightenment and intriguing ‘coincidences’.

I’ve had close encounters with two unrelated forms of cancer in my life.   The first time cancer invaded my world, medical intervention didn’t help.  After unsuccessful surgery, I sought emotional and spiritual healing instead.   On a reckless whim as a young single woman, I escaped to a health farm where I fasted for three weeks and then adopted a strict vegetarian diet.   During this time I asked God to heal me, and underwent a very intense period of forgiving others, forgiving myself and rediscovering my relationship with a loving God.   The cancer vanished and hasn’t returned in over twenty years.

My more recent battle was won with medical intervention and emotional and spiritual support.   Having learnt many lessons the first time, I was well aware of the role my emotions and spiritual health played in the roller-coaster journey which is cancer.   I embraced all the spiritual nourishment I could find – devouring book after book, bible verse after verse and inviting everyone with a voice to pray for me.

Self nurture involves much more than good nutrition, exercise and plenty of sleep.  Our inner yearnings reach beyond our physical needs and encompass our emotions and spirituality, aspects of our selves which sometimes get lost in the rush and tumble of everyday life, where only logical thought is considered acceptable.  Words of affirmation, encouragement and hope can bring health to our ailing bodies even when medicine fails.    Hours spent immersing ourselves in nature and the uplifting prayers of our friends can mend our broken hearts, when tranquilizers and wine have lost their effectiveness.

I’m grateful for my visit to the doctor tonight, as it reminded me yet again of the many dimensions to being human.   On one level we are physical beings, made of blood, bone and flesh, but on another we are driven by feelings, insights and desires.   We are also spiritual beings, capable of seeing beyond the physical limits of this world, and of discovering God in his limitless power and love.  I cherish the moments when I dare to look above the dull grey rooftops of my mundane life, to see the wide blue sky and breathtaking mountain ranges beyond.   These are the moments when I know that there is hope for us all, despite the many challenges that surround us.

Psalm 103:3-4
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.

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