As I've said before, being in this small town, going out in public for me right now means running into my blog-followers/prayer warriors, and so often during those interactions I hear the same phrase: "I'm so MOVED by how positively you're handling all of this."
Let me just be the first to point out that living with someone gives you a whole different perspective than just reading their inspired thoughts or running into them at church, here and there.
Translation: I have cried more tears in the past month or so than I think I could count in all the combined prior years of my lifetime.
There is really nothing positive about cancer... nor is there anything positive about its physical effects!
I do not feel positive about losing out to my thirties - or at least what feels like I am.
These are some of the fun things I'm dealing with: early menopause which equals hot-flashes and no more kids, aches and pains in places you hear 50- and 60-year-olds complain about, gastro-intestinal issues that continue to plague, wrinkles on my body and hands that seem far too deep for a 33-year-old to have, practically zero sex-drive (and sorry if that is Too Much Information... but hey, it's all on the table, as always) while my very normal 33-year-old husband has a very normal one, sensitive teeth and gums and brittle, angry nails.
Really. What am I, 80?!
Add to that my first surgery ever - where I'll be losing parts of my body I've known for 33 years and inheriting lovely scars in their place.
To say that I view any of these things as positive would be just plain dishonest about how I'm feeling and how very human I am. In fact, in the past month, I've probably cried myself to sleep at least four or five of those nights. I'm hurting and this journey is anything but easy for me. It is, in fact, absolutely and incomparably the single hardest and most challenging trial I've ever faced - and hope to ever!
However, like any trial, there are great things to be gleaned from it... if I accept and welcome them.
Last week, a dear and distant high school friend of mine graciously and generously invited the boys and me out to her place to ride horses - a therapy I have needed and practically begged for over the past 6 months. You see, I grew up with a little Arabian pony mix or 'pasture mutt' as we endearingly referred to him - and, therefore, the love and desire of farm-life and horses was planted, long ago. There is just something about climbing atop a horse, grabbing the reins, taking in the culminating smells of saddle polish, horse mane and wet mud/manure and experiencing it all out in the open air.
What can I say... I'm beginning to come to complete terms with the fact that I am a true country-girl at heart.
Anyway, after spending some time getting back to those roots last week, riding around, thinking about my scenario (right now and what has been forecast for the next 5-10 years of my life), it dawned on me that a riding-horse and I have one very significant thing in common... we are both broken.
The Webster's Dictionary defines broken in a number of ways. The first are what you'd expect... separated into two pieces; incomplete; being in a state of disarray; disordered... but then when I move through to a defined "broken spirit," it reads: subdued totally; humbled.
There's that word again... how many times now have I been without all other words to describe my feelings and this journey? Everything about it seems to come down to what God is doing to humble me...renew and restore my perspective.
When a horse is broken, he is turned from a wild, boundary-less feature of nature, to a tamed, useful farm animal. God's very design even for them is to be changed through training... transformed from a life of wild bliss. Although some may say that it is horrible to pull a horse from a state it naturally thrives in and force it to do something else... I firmly believe that those people have not met the ones I have. Sure, there are some personalities who simply want to run amuck, carefree and never be ridden. But then, that's the case with children, too... doesn't meant that's whats BEST for them.
But that's not where I'm going with this. Two times before this last horse-riding experience, I had the privilege of visiting a ranch where I met a sweet mare who, literally, lived for being ridden. If she so much as saw you walking towards the barn to get a saddle, she would run up, out of the pasture and stand right outside the door, nickering and jumping around in excitement. She was an explorer... but even more than that... she absolutely adored humans and sometimes it almost seemed that in her horsey thoughts she yearned to be one!
So how am I like a broken horse?
For my 32 years of life, before cancer, I was running around wild, amongst all the things of this world. Not to say I'm not still surrounded by worldly things (I am still here, after all)... but those things are not such a distraction right now and, in fact, they are not even what drive me.
The more I talk to people who are running the rat-race without the awakening in their thought-process - "I'm going to live til I'm 80, and I'm always going to be this energetic and healthy, and I'm going to be at my children's wedding and live to see all my grand-children, blah, blah..." all the pieces of the fairytale we subconsciously concoct for ourselves - the more I yearn to infuse my perspective. Now, I know that it's like what people say about having kids - you just can't describe or portray the change that occurs in you until you're there yourself - but I want so badly to, anyway.
I would never claim that cancer is anything but awful. But as I've said before... God doesn't see this as cancer. He sees it as opportunity. Opportunity to train me. To break me.
Being broken in the Lord is God's purpose for us. As the bible says, His whole purpose in us is to replace us with Himself. Our flesh is nothing but a reflection - a reminder of what happened long ago -nwhere we, as mankind, let Him down, and with it in place, there is no possible way for us to be perfected. He has no use for it except to use it as a tool now - to break us out of ourselves.
Job endured countless losses and trials through the Lord's allowance - things much more horrible than I have at this point - yet, every time, he turned his face and heart to God, proving to Satan and God that what he spoke was true. His circumstances, no matter how painfully altered, were a separate matter from the things of God. This, I, too, am learning.
Is it easy? Absolutely not in any, any way.
Is it painful? Yes.
Does it hurt my heart? Nearly every day.
Do I enjoy being in this circumstance? NO.
Am I grateful God chose to break me?
Christ's final hours were likely the most pain, historically, that any human has and will ever experience... but that's because the purpose was the greatest of purposes to bear.
I wish there were some way to infuse and inflict the foresight on others, sincerely and deeply, without the need for their own trials to do so. But I've come to realize that that is not God's design and His purpose for that is because He wants to and has to be the one to deal with us all, individually. It is on an individual level that this training happen, and though I'd never lay claim that it's easy to be broken like this, I will preach, from this point forward, that my being bridled up and re-directed is absolutely a blessing in perfect disguise.
Hayley Ziebart is married with two sons. She wrote this before she had her April 9 surgery, which included a mastectomy. Read her Fridays on Douglas County Moms. Also check out her personal blog here.
I would never claim that cancer is anything but awful. But as I\'ve said before... God doesn\'t see this as cancer. He sees it as opportunity. Opportunity to train me. To break me.