Right Below the Surface

In the last few months I have gotten word of dear friends walking the road of cancer recurrence. The news has stirred in me anger, sadness and confusion. In each situation the people have been mature, godly, incredibly loved and prayed for kinds of Christians. My category of “more questions than answers” continues to increase as I interact with God over the news.

I’ve been working on the Someday Book more now that the kids are in school. Placing myself back into those dark days of surgeries, recovery and chemo and remembering the smells and sounds has added, I think, to my response to the news of my friends. I’m trying to immerse myself in order for the words to come out authentically and not matter-of-fact. I often type with tears blurring the computer screen.

Battling cancer is physically demanding, but I think the emotional toll is even greater. It is as much, or more, a mental battle. And this side of cancer, in remission, I still need to intentionally keep my thoughts in check. Fears and doubts lie right below the surface. All of my “what if’s” come tumbling out whenever I bump up anew to a friend re-entering the fray. Unlike the finality of having my appendix removed at age seven with only a small scar to serve as a reminder, the cancer stuff still stays close. This is why the doctors don’t use “cured” but “in remission.” Cured is final. And with cancer it’s as much a mystery why it happens in the first place, as it is with why it returns and when or if.

Much of the hard stuff in life is mental. It requires a deliberate choice to think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, worthy of praise. I’m grateful Paul, who penned the letter to the Philippians, provides me with a grid by which to filter my thoughts.

Do you struggle with keeping your thoughts in check? How do you combat the mental battle when walking through hard times?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.  (Philippians 4:6-8 NASB)