God is sovereign.
Whether I'm willing to accept that or not amidst different times of my life...He IS.
It's too easy to forget...or perhaps hard to admit...the sovereignty provided in every single step of my treatment and recovery just two years ago. But setting my hurt aside and my pride down, it is important that I once again acknowledge the answers, the process, the people that were all provisioned. Isaiah 61:3 says: To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified. He WANTS to provide replacement...support...and strength. And He did. And He still is, whether or not I choose to acknowledge that He is.
Lately, I have wanted to 'punish' Him by not acknowledging His sovereignty over my life...as He's allowed so much suffering and pain and anguish. That's anything BUT sovereignty, right?!
But when I was wise and cornered, clear-minded and open-hearted, I claimed these things as blessings! Yes. Not just trials, but BLESSINGS! Even that Laura Story song became 'my song' because of it's reiteration of this lesson. But just like anything else with denial, eventually, the truth must be faced, accepted and even--Lord willing--celebrated.
Today I attended a 'Celebration of Life' for one of the most impactful people that God sovereignly provided me amidst my cancer battle. Since my truthfulness on here will hopefully help set me free, I am urged to admit my cynicism born, again, out of more hurt. Losing her cut me deeply on so MANY levels that I was not prepared for. Why Lord?! Why I am 'celebrating' my friend today when I should be deeply pained that you took her away from all of us and her husband and three small children who need her!
I sat in a chair today, looking all around at the hoards of people there to 'celebrate' her with me...listening to the stories of all she's touched in her short 30-some years of life...realizing that right to her very last breath, SHE, HERSELF, celebrated life. Sure, we had phone conversations where we shared in our sorrows and frustrations, losses and struggles. But right to the very end, she gave it all to the Lord.
While there, a couple different epiphanies punched me smack in the gut.
The first: We travelled the cancer road, somewhat side-by-side and yet she is now gone..and I am still here. What am I doing with my 'here' status? Shunning the Lord and allowing the stripping I endured to hold me in a place of shame and insecurity?
What a waste. A waste of time Katie would've given just about anything to have.
The second: This amazing woman faced the realities of death. Calmly. And COMPLIANTLY. Sure she had human moments of fear--like the text she sent me when boarding her plane home after just receiving her '6 week's to live' news--'I am hugging my Hayley pillow as tightly as possible right now.'
Talk about feeling helpless in a moment I wished more than ever that I could wave my magic wand! But than via her sister after just 5 days later, she was suddenly admitted to the hospital with 'not much time left'--'Katie just sat the kids down and calmly explained that she was going to be with Jesus now.' As much as I may be kicking and screaming that God saw it fit to take her home and away from all of us who loved her and benefited so greatly from her beautiful spirit and graceful way of using her God-gifts on us... she was ready. Her calmness and compliance was sincere...but it was a RESULT of her sincere faith in and love for the Lord.
She was ready for His Kingdom.
I, on the other hand have much to learn, still.
I found it ironic that her dad (who is my 'second dad'), while hugging me today, muttered into my ear, 'Thank you for being Katie's best friend through this', as I believe she did FAR MORE for ME than I did for her. I spent the hour+ car-ride on may way down there today feeling my usual *for the past year anyway* anger and sadness and not celebratory at all. A dear friend who helped me through one of the most excruciating times of my life didn't get her miracle. Her sister said to me, on the morning of her passing, 'I just thought for sure God would give her her miracle given that He gave her the married name 'Marical...it just seemed too perfect.' Her words rang in my ears all week long...I agreed...and they fed my anger. But as I sat and watched and listened and experienced Katie's testimony to the hundreds of people in that room, I felt ashamed and disappointed in myself, as Katie's friend, knowing how much she would disapprove.
I had one last big, long gut-wrenched cry tonight while in the bath. Uncontrollable sobs turned into my begging God for forgiveness.
'Forgive me for pushing you away. For leaning on my own understanding, alone. For resenting what you've allowed. For LOSING FAITH. PURPOSELY.'
And then it dawned on me.
Katie's miracle may not of come in the form of restored health and more life. I grieve with you in that fact and I even feel guilty about it, in some ways.
But, perhaps the miracle--as the pastor said today--came in a different form. Katie's miracle is the role that she played in all of our lives. The role that she played in MY life, just today, when HER testimony played a huge part in my willingness to fully re-open my heart to the Lord.
And THAT is something worth celebrating.