You’ve Got Mail #15

Dear Jahar,

I went to bed last night in a state of deep concern over you. Having heard from several people who recently sent you books through Amazon that the books were returned and the transactions refunded, it made me wonder if you are alright and what possible new cruelty the prison staff may be carrying out against you. Laying down with such thoughts made for a restless night. In the wee hours, still awake, I heard the Lord speak part of a scripture I hadn’t thought about in years.

Now I will arise. I will set him in the safety for which he longs.

Knowing there was more to that verse and that God spoke concerning you, I rose out of bed and looked it up, eager for the comfort and reassurance a rhema word from God always brings.

Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, “Now I will arise,” says the Lord. “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.” Psalm 12:5

The Bible says it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Those who are against you are about to do just that! The cavalry is coming, Jahar! The host of heaven is on the move!

Isaiah 55:11 says “So will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

I like the word “now” especially when suffering and pain are involved. When do I want this to end? Now. When do I want to be released from that which troubles me? Now. Please.

“Now I will arise.”

I’ve been thinking lately about how God has been using pressure in both our lives. We are learning how to make decisions under extreme pressure when getting it wrong could likely mean the difference between life and death. We are being molded for a future that will, I believe, require total faith and trust in God. And we will learn these things, Jahar. We shall prevail. Our Goliaths will be defeated. And then, perhaps, we will meet – and not through glass, but face to face – after you are free.

Because of my recent battle with cancer, I have a new appreciation for what it must have taken and for what must have gone on behind the scenes in order for you to plead “not guilty” in court. I am so proud of you for doing that, by the way – and not just because I know you are innocent.

It must have been a shocking thing for you to discover firsthand just how untrustworthy attorneys can be. The experience of being betrayed by the very ones you were dependent on for help must have been profoundly painful. I know how I felt when, following the trial on Twitter, I read the words “Judy Clarke says ‘It was him.’ ” I was outraged! I can only imagine how you felt. Adding to all this the fact that you were experiencing such a betrayal while being kept in total isolation… well – I can’t begin to imagine your sense of drowning in a sea of hopelessness…

I read a book a long time ago titled “In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day.” It’s about overcoming impossible situations. It’s bad enough to be in a pit. The deeper the pit, the harder it is to get out of. Some pits are so deep, you have to have help from up above to escape them. Literally.

One must be strong to be able to climb out of a pit or patient and courageous enough to wait for a rope to be dropped in over the edge. And whether you happen to fall in or are pushed by someone, you definitely don’t want to be in there with a lion. For one thing, you’d use up a lot of strength fighting the lion before you can even think about climbing out of the pit.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to have to go one-on-one in a battle with a lion, you definitely want it to be in a place where you can maneuver around and possibly escape at some point. A pit doesn’t offer you those advantages. And a pit full of snow is a slippery place. Hard to get your footing. The worst of all possible scenarios. If you’re going to fight a lion in a pit or anywhere else, for that matter, you want it to be on dry ground.

I fell in a pit with a lion on a snowy day when I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer.

Before I say more about that, I need to tell on myself about something I consider to be a weakness I really want to want to fix. (Hint: there is no typo in the previous sentence. Sometimes you have to want to want to before you will actually start working to change something you dislike about yourself. True statement.) Anyway… here’s what I do that I wish I didn’t: I don’t steadfastly follow Phillipians 4:6 which says  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Three things I can honestly say are true of me 1) I am a thinker; my mind is going all the time 2) I am extremely creative and 3) I am lazy. That is a bad combination. When I am confronted with a situation, I often move right into creative thinking mode instead of prayer. The results have been mixed.

When you suddenly find yourself thrust into a situation where you have to make a life or death decision, it’s always wise to get God’s input on the matter. Doctors, like attorneys, will give theirs. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I had every intention of doing what the doctors told me to do. The pressure from my family to listen to the doctors was incredible. Sound familiar? I went so far as to allow the surgeon to implant a device for administering chemo drugs called a port which she explained would be used after surgery.

I was being the good girl, the dutiful one, listening to everything but my own heart and the still, small voice of God.

I began to research cancer treatments. And then I asked God what He wanted me to do. Without going into detail because this letter would be too long, His guidance was clear: do NOT undergo chemo or radiation. I opted for diet and lifestyle changes. Therefore a third surgery was performed to remove the port. All that remains now is the scar.

The type of cancer I’d had was aggressive, my surgeon told me, but the surgery was a success. They got it all. No lymph node involvement. I would have a scan every six months for probably the next ten years, the surgeon said.

Fast-forward six months to the first scan. They saw something. A second scan was done. The cancer was back in the same place. Four teeny tiny spots. Still adamantly against chemo and radiation, I agreed to surgery to remove both breasts.

I even tried to be excited about it… Maybe I’d get a free upgrade when they did the reconstruction. Then I met with the plastic surgeon who would be doing the reconstruction at the same time the mastectomy was performed. It was a sobering reality check.

I went home, did my research and began to pray. I was scared to say the least and no one could make this decision but me. No one knew, but this decision was not at all clear cut anymore. The pressure from family to follow conventional protocol was unbelievable and only made me feel even more alone. (Probably what you experienced when you read the letter your mom was convinced to write urging you to accept the government-appointed attorneys and to plead guilty.)

The surgery would require one year of my life. Recovery would be challenging, the pain factor significant. All this per the plastic surgeon. I would need constant care at home for approximately the first three days. I could not be left alone. He would have me on “house arrest” for six months while I was at a high risk for infection. During that time I could not eat out in a restaurant, could not use a public restroom. Could not take the city bus, which is how I get around now that I no longer have a car. He didn’t want me grocery shopping and if I had to, he wanted me wearing a face mask and gloves. Who knew?

Many women may have gone through this but this time it was me. Knowing I have no family I can really depend on 100% I knew I would likely be going through this recovery alone sooner than I wanted to be.

I began thinking about my life and there was a lot in the negative column. A whole lot. The things in the positive column were pretty trivial. This is where I imagine I began to experience what you did… hours upon hours of being all alone with your thoughts, no one to talk to, nothing to ease the fear and sadness. No promise that the pain would ever end, just a dim hope that maybe, someday, it would.

When I was going through treatment for clinical depression, I made a quality decision never to commit suicide. No matter how bad things got I stopped thinking of suicide as a way out and once I stopped seeing suicide as a possible solution, I never looked back.

Still, when I looked at the circumstances of my life in the present, which I believed I was powerless to change, I decided, at last, that my life, in its current state, was not worth prolonging. Not to me. Every day was another test to see how much loneliness, emptiness, lack and misery I could endure, with no hope of improvement unless a miracle happened. Who in their right mind would go through a year of physical hell just to keep a miserable existence like that going? Certainly not me – so I accepted that I would do nothing and if death came – so be it. I would go home and be at peace with the Lord.

One night, the Lord reminded me of the scripture I had chosen decades ago to be my life verse. I chose it the moment God spoke this to me as a very young Christian. In this verse, from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, God is speaking to “all the descendants of Jacob, the remnant of Israel.” I personalized it by inserting my own name:

“Listen to Me, Lynn. I have created you and cared for you since you were born. I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and be your Saviour.” Isaiah 46:3-4

That got my attention. Though I sometimes joke about being old, my hair is still definitely the dark brown color I was born with. I looked in the mirror. If God was reminding me He would be my God “even when my hair was white with age,” that had to mean I was going to live a long time yet.

I wondered where God was going with this. I didn’t have to wonder for long. Soon after, God began to talk to me about, of all things, you, Jahar – a person I have never met.

He reminded me of my total certainty, my faith that God is going to cause you to be exonerated and set free. He reminded me of how He convinced me of His power to accomplish this. (It is true that when it comes to you and what the future holds, there is not a doubt in my mind.)

And then He got me to realize something very important: If I have faith in God to do the impossible against all odds in your life, how can I not also believe He can and will do the impossible in mine? I know people who have experienced divine healing from cancer. It became important to me to know God’s power firsthand. If I can’t believe in Him as my healer, as the Bible says He is, then how can I say I believe He has saved me and will take me to heaven when I die?

I wish this letter, out of all those I have written you so far, did not have to be posted on a public blog. I know some will read it and laugh. You, however, will likely understand, because of all you have been through.

So in closing, kiddo, this is partly your fault, this decision I finally reached to stay alive, to refuse even the surgery, to believe in another miracle, one for you and one for me. You keep breathing Jahar and I will too. And one day at a time, we will overcome until the day the miracles we are believing for become obvious to all, your freedom and my healing.

The song below is for both of us tonight. I, probably like you, often feel like I don’t matter to anyone and I don’t belong anywhere. May God, in His perfect timing, show us both just how wrong those feelings are.

With much love,

Lynn

Someday, somewhere
We’ll find a new way of living
We’ll find a way of forgiving
Somewhere…
There’s a place for us
Somewhere a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us somewhere
There’s a time for us
Someday there’ll be a time for us
Time together with time to spare
Time to learn, time to care
Someday, somewhere
We’ll find a new way of living
We’ll find there’s a way of forgiving
Somewhere…
There’s a place for us
A time and a place for us
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there
Somehow, someday, somewhere…

2 thoughts on “You’ve Got Mail #15”

  1. You matter. Jahar matters. Please don’t ever feel any other way. It’s courageous that you speak openly about something so personal. Perhaps others in a similar situation will read this and find comfort, and just maybe, will not feel so alone any longer. Nothing is permanent, even if it sometimes feels that way. Thank you for sharing and being so brave.

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