When You Need To Get Your Fight Back

NOTE: For timely news on Michele’s surgery, treatment and healing journey, you can find regular updates on her Facebook page.

The earth began to buckle.

Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Outside, the sun was shining, the sky blue and bright. To the ordinary, life-rich person, all seemed well.

To me, caught in a web of post-surgery pain and chemo-driven nausea, dark closed in. I was sinking.

I can’t do this.

Whatever. I’ve run half-marathons, finished countless triathlons. I’ve survived marriage, raised children. SIX of them, for heaven’s sakes. This should be a cake walk.

Oh, God.

Help me.

I can’t do this.

Before last year—before TWO months ago—I thought I understood something of suffering. I’ve known my fair share of difficult circumstances: a devastating divorce, the loneliness of single motherhood, the isolation of raising special needs children, the pain of a near church split.

But this recent battle? It launched me into a new level of suffering.

The unending physical kind.

Now I know. I didn’t have a clue.

Even so, even as I sit here today and wish for the minutes to move quickly toward healing and relief, I realize any so-called suffering I’m enduring is yet a fraction of what’s possible. The potential for pain and loss in this oft-difficult life is limitless.

Ask the woman who survived Dachau.

Ask the man who lives limbless, his body stolen by land mines.

Look into the eyes of those cursed by ALS, MD, or any other of a number of horrific, life-eating diseases.

Ask the homeless child who can’t remember the last time he felt warm. Or full. Or loved.

Yes, as difficult as our scenarios may be, it can always be worse.

I know this, remind myself of it daily. And yet the enduring is difficult. Grueling. Seemingly impossible. It isn’t easy trying to pull yourself out of a dark hole.

{I’m guessing more than a few of you know exactly what I’m talking about.}

I haven’t figured it all out yet, never will. But I’ve discovered something in this suffering place:

Endurance doesn’t just happen. It’s developed.

It requires intention, strategy, wisdom. As strong as we think we are, there is something around the corner waiting to kick our tails. And if we haven’t planned for it, if we’re not ready to claw and scrape and fight back for life, we will succumb. It’s only a matter of time.

My friend, whatever you’re fighting today, whatever challenge or pit you find yourself falling into, it’s time to get your fight back. Here’s how I’m getting it back for me:

Cement yourself in TRUTH. Pain—physical or emotional—is a liar. It taunts without mercy, tries to convince you there is no light, no relief, no potential for life. Acknowledge this. Then, tell yourself the truth. Write it down. Memorize it. It could be as simple as “This WILL end!” During a dark night, a friend wisely advised me to find a few anchoring Bible verses. Lamps in my dark. So I dug up six and wrote them on index cards. I carry them with me wherever I go. I’ll sleep with them if I have to. The words may not always feel warm and fuzzy, but they remain truth. And truth is far better cement than my fluctuating emotions.

Surround yourself with HOPE. Suffering is an ominous soundtrack. It fills the ears and heart and mind with a desperate dirge. It’s understandable, considering. But if you and I are to endure, we need to write our own music. Dance to the tune we set. Literally, I have picked out two different songs that both remind me of God’s past faithfulness and inspire me to live forward. When I feel the earth start to give, I play one of these songs, close my eyes, and let the hope change the accompaniment of my life.

Focus your eyes on TODAY. I’ve discovered my greatest temptation in suffering is to get ahead of the calendar. I try, foolishly, to manage the future by imaging what might happen. But the more I try to anticipate what may come, the more I worry over days that have not yet arrived. I miss out on TODAY in my poor attempts to leverage tomorrow. Here’s the truth: I can’t endure 100 days of suffering. But I can endure one. ONE. That’s enough.

Give yourself AWAY. This is perhaps the best secret of all, the one that acts like a three-inch thick rope pulling me out of my quicksand. Before chemo started, when the earth went soft and my faith felt weak, I realized I needed something to focus on besides my own struggle. So I committed to pray for one new person for each of 28 days of treatment. Before each appointment, I pray for a single name and write it on a small card. Then, while the radiation machine and IV bags wreak havoc with my body, I hold that card in my right hand and pray my heart out. I don’t do this because I’m noble or spiritual. On the contrary, I do this because I’m utterly selfish and weak. I could make a full-time job out of feeling sorry for myself. Giving myself away is the only cure.

Endurance

Are you enduring, my friend? Don’t let it swallow you. What one step can you take to get some of your fight back? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

44 thoughts on “When You Need To Get Your Fight Back

  1. Well said, Michelle. As always, thank you for your honesty, transparency, and perspective amidst your journey. Ongoing, relentless, never-ending pain and trauma is a journey that turned me upside down. Your words are true, in the midst of it. And yes, endurance is developed–love how you said that!

  2. “We need to write our own music.”

    Oh, Michele, thank you for finding the strength and generosity to share your insights at this time. God’s agenda is always right on, and your post pinged in my inbox at the end of a tormented sleepless night in my little struggles. Having recently been reconnected after 25 years with a friend of my girlhood, I thought (arrogantly) that God had done this thing because she is in the dark evil valley of divorce after soul-shattering years of abuse—just where I was five years ago. “Here it is,” I told myself. “The reason for my suffering is now explained. I can help her, teach her, lead her, guide her, through the terrors and the cold and the desperate loneliness of that valley.” (I know you understand that dark place, Michele, which you allude to so briefly in this post.)

    The short of it is that, after a few weeks of feeling ever more discouraged, impotent and useless, and this night of prostration in prayer, my eyes fell on the dusty case of my old flute—once the dancing joy of my life, before MS took away my skill, but still a reminder of the music I used to make. And I read your post and those words struck to the core.

    Our suffering may be useful in one way or another in helping others along this pilgrims’ way, but first and best it seems to be so we do “write our own music”, and, in doing so, find as Paul did that the thorn the Lord graciously lends us is so we alone can learn the sufficiency of His strength.

    Schubert is said to have declared, “My music is the product of my genius and my poverty, and that which I have written in my greatest distress is what the world seems to like the best.” Or as Milton paraphrased him, “The anguish of the singer makes the beauty of the strain.”

    These tortured musings, and your words today, filled me both with humble pie and meat for the journey. You asked what one step your readers can take to get their fight back. This morning I both dusted off my flute and started writing again. Thank you.

    You are making wondrous music, Michele. The Lord strengthen and cheer you this day and onwards. 1 Chronicles 23:5

    • That was beautiful Michele. And reading how Meg was touched as the Lord spoke to her heart through your analogy was beautiful as well. Endurance can be built, and it’s only when we are in the ring with our gloves on that we can even begin to see it grow. Perseverance is another one I know a lot about. After my first brain surgery I did something that people marveled at…I finished my education. I knew, and I told everyone who would listen, that it wasn’t me…it was a gift of perseverance from God. I could no more have stopped what I was doing than a mother could stop pushing at the final moments of her baby’s birth. I’m thankful that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. When others look at us and see Jesus in us it makes it all worth it. We see Jesus in you, Michele.

    • Meg, my friend. THIS right here, these beautiful words you wrote, ministered to my heart more than you can know. I’m honored to share this life and journey with you. Your wisdom, perspective, and presence are a gift to me. Thank you. I love you.

  3. Today is my day to pray for you, dear Michele. I am praying right now during your treatment time. I am praying that only the cancer cells would feel the power of the radiation and that the healthy cells would be left alone. I am praying for a supernatural day without nausea or pain. I am praying for your family as they struggle in witnessing your suffering. And, I am paying for God’s comfort and peace to envelop you.

  4. I was praying for you in the middle of the night last night as I sat up with my sick child. Thankfully he bounced back this morning but in addition to you, I have several friends who are battling cancer right now and will be fighting and suffering for more than just one night. So as I comforted him in his misery, I prayed for each one of you to be strengthened and comforted and healed.
    Your words today are more than beautiful they are powerful. I’m so humbled by your willingness to share so transparently and thus be a suffering servant to others who needed to hear your message. I will be sharing your post with my friend who just got the news the margins were not clear .

  5. Thank you for your gut honest words. They sink deep into my heart. I feel less alone. I know God is with me and yet hearing your day-to-day victories encourages me in two major struggles in my life. I’m not ready to go public with them now, for I do not have the go-ahead from the people involved.

    Bless you, sweet Michelle, bless you.

  6. Thank you, Michele. For giving yourself away in these blog posts too. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself in my little struggles the last few days… Grateful for the perspective and wisdom you share here.

  7. Cement yourself in truth – this is the key to me. I listened to a video by Beth Moore that said, once we know the “with” of God – what it means to have God with us – nothing else matters. She talked about how in Exodus 33 God gave the Israelites everything they wanted but said he wasn’t going with them. Moses said, no way – if you don’t go, we don’t go. The truth of God – with us everyday, through the night (even on a notecard or five) is really the only way to walk through pain and suffering. Thanks for this today – I learned a lot and I’m focusing on cementing myself in truth. ps – oh yes, and I love you…and pancakes….and shrimps.

  8. I loved your comment: “Endurance doesn’t just happen. It’s developed.” Isn’t this the truth. Sin doesn’t dictate what struggle(s) we will end up with. I often think of Paul, stating in 2 Cor. 12: 7 “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” But even if it isn’t conceit, we will have struggles. We will be given battles, ours, our children’s, our relationships.
    I haven’t personally battled cancer, but I for sure have been a cheerleader in the game.
    The thought I would like to leave with you, and me is this: Does the lighthouse, even though it throws out a bright beacon, in the midst of the storm, feel like it has any value?
    It’s not in the midst of the storm, but when the storm has raged, the battle is won, that we see the light.
    Your response to the fight is the beacon for so many others.

  9. Dearest Michelle -Thank you for crafting these words of wisdom and hope in the midst of your great suffering. Your comments about cementing yourself in truth is so wise. A friend once told me – “Don’t doubt in the dark, what you know to be true in the light.”

    And thank you for the suggestion to pray for others when we are facing something hard. For some odd reason, I find it easier to believe God will work miracles for others, but neglect to hold on to that possibility for me. Yet when I pray for others, it reminds me of God’s power and might that is certainly big enough to handle my concerns as well.

    I’m praying for your complete healing and for God to work miracles. In my Bible reading today, I underlined this verse … not knowing I would read your post today. But there is hope in here: Matthew 4:23, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”

    Jesus is able to heal EVERY disease and sickness – I’m asking Him to break in to your world today with that same touch.

  10. Brutally, refreshingly, HONEST! You were lifted in prayer last night!

    On the SURROUND YOURSELF WITH HOPE thread – songs…sweet, healing songs….try this one…loud, on repeat….TELL YOUR HEART TO BEAT AGAIN by Danny Gokey. You will not regret it. Let Jesus carry you in it…Blessings….BRuce

  11. Glorious! Thanks for sharing- so beneficial and true! I will commit to pray for your healing, peace, and continued endurance. I had heard your story from my friend, Sarah Beckman, and it is truly inspiring… All praise and glory to our Lord!

  12. …so beautifully written…so touching and inspiring. Thank you.

    Your post comes at a somehow intuitive time for me…

    As New Years approached a year ago, I was filled with hope for 2014. “This is gong to be the year!” The year my partner and I would move beyond of the pain him losing his wife in a tragic auto accident just five years earlier. Healing takes a very long time and it affects everyone in it’s path…not just the obvious. This would also be the year I’d make significant headway on building my business; I’d write more, seek public speaking opportunities, etc. Life was starting to look like it would be fun.

    But early in 2014 mom was diagnosed with terminal stage 4 lung cancer. Everything went dark. All focus went into Dr. appointments, tests, options. In May, mom decided to forego any treatment and let the cancer take it’s course. She was given at most until the end of the year. I supported her in that choice and assured her that she would pass in her own home, surrounded with the things she loves and her old friend, Noel the cat, on her lap.

    We’ve been at this for for many months now and hospice says she has just weeks. But mom is made up of something very strong and her body refuses to stop fighting. She’s in a lot of pain and the medications don’t make it go away. It’s unbearable for her at times and for me in my own way.

    I should be thinking only of her, but I’m so tired. Heartbroken. Weak. Lonely for my now fiancee who has a job and keeps our home running while I live 1.5 hours away at my mother’s home keeping my promise.

    I will keep my promise. I love my mother and can say that through this process we’ve become extremely close. I’ll miss her when she’s gone. Deeply.

    I never would have dreamed that 2015 would have rolled around and I’d be sitting at the counter in my mother’s kitchen typing this on your blog. Your battle brings me to tears. I can hardly read your posts because they cut so deep, yet the wisdom and inspiration that comes from reading here is a catalyst for hope in my own life.

    Thank you, Michele, for being a light…

    You are loved.

  13. Thank you so much, sweet friend, for sharing your heart with us. I’ve often told my patients to not “future-trip” when they are struggling with anxiety and uncertainty as they look to their own future. Yet in this season of my own life, I am finding that I need to take my own advice and it’s certainly much easier said than done! Embracing today is the gift that He’s given me, and it’s this journey of faith that I simply take one step at a time, trusting that He will hold me as I step out. Hugs and love, Christy

  14. My eyes are burning…tears are ready to splash down my cheeks from reading your entry and some of the responses. FIGHT IN THE NAME OF JESUS!!!! FIGHT with all your faith, sweet one. WE ARE FIGHTING THIS WITH YOU. Alone? NEVER!!!! When you have nothing more to fight with, let GOD FIGHT- He’s already won this battle no matter what that means. Your faith during this dark season is shedding LIGHT- blinding light to those who are interested in seeing Christ be BIG in you dear friend. DON’T GIVE UP! We need your voice to speak truth about life, Christ and so much more….XO

  15. it is amazing how so many women struggle as I do yet can uplift at the same time. Thank you for giving me fresh ways to endure. It is a life long journey. Those that don’t get it have not had life happen. Bless you.

  16. Thank you beautiful friend. Your honest, raw, vulnerable willingness to pour out, to give yourself away…. right now? In the middle of the cracked-open place of suffering? I know of One other who had that kind of love and courage. You remind me a lot Him. Your courage makes me brave.

  17. Hi Michele, as I type this I am lying down in a hospital bed. They are running all sorts of test on me because I have been experiencing chest pressure and shortness of breath Etc… I have also been under the care of a neurologist for now 4 months and we are trying to figure out why my body has been reacting the way it is. Just wanted you to know that today you prayed for Kate and tonight I am praying for you! God has big things in store for you! You are a women of God with and His plans for you are good and to give you a future. Keep fighting the good fight of faith and know that while you pray for others, you have many praying for you! God bless you and I know that greater is He that is with you than He that is with the world! This too shall pass and you have many, many more years here on earth! We need you and are declaring you healed in the name of Jesus! Love you Maria H

  18. Michele, I’m not suffering today and have never experienced anything close to the physical pain you’re going through. But suffering will show up again – for me, or someone I love. This is a message I will save for that day. Still praying for you.

  19. Thank you Michelle for the loving “butt kicking”. Very helpful to me, especially the thought of focusing on today, not next week and definitely not all the “what ifs”. Praying for you today as well.

  20. What a picture of beauty in the midst of suffering.

    Lord, today I pray for Michelle. Thank you for filling her up so BIG on the inside with your Spirit that her suffering is only a temporary place. Let her find rest inside, where you abide. Let her find joy inside, where you hold her close. In the name of Jesus let it be so, amen.

  21. Michele, you are my hero of the hour, dear Friend. Reading this I thought of the verse in Hebrews about how “for the joy set before him” Jesus ENDURED the pain. There are moments in life when the bravest thing we can do is simply endure the day. Endurance sometimes gets a bad rap, but to endure when life really truly puts you through agony, that is the stuff heroes are made of, and it is where fresh compassion for others who have suffered similarly is born. Love this, love you, love the riches of truth you are mining in these often excruciating places. May you feel God’s arms around you, crying with you over the unfairness of pain in this fallen world, a world that has moments of brilliant beauty, but is So obviously not heaven yet. Holding your hand through this journey. Never letting go.

  22. Praying for you my sister. I hope this brings you some hope. Psalm 69:29 “I am suffering and in pain.
    Rescue me, O God, by your saving power. 30 Then I will praise God’s name with singing,
    and I will honor him with thanksgiving.”

    Read these verses this week and thought of you, because though you may be too tired or weak to sing, you have such a beautiful voice, that I am praying you will feel strength enough to belt out some songs to Jesus praising him for how he has healed you. Love you.

  23. Thank you for sharing, Michele…you remain in my prayers. I am so encouraged that you can share through your pain and still move lives and make a difference. Blessings to you from our Father in Heaven.

    In Him!

    Jon Becker

  24. Dear Michelle,

    I am working in customer service emails & just received an automated email reply from your server with reference to this blog. I decided to check it out.

    What you couldn’t have known is that I had just been in the ladies room at work, crying out to Jesus, asking Him why He has allowed what feels like such unending suffering in my life this past year.

    And I believe that being the customer service agent that received your automated email & was lead by His Holy Spirit to this blog was our Heavenly Father’s answer to my restless heart.

    Thank you!

    love,
    Nina Ruth

    • Nina, just this morning I was asking God if he sees my tears? If his heart aches with my suffering? And then I get on my computer and see your beautiful story. Somehow, this is exactly the confirmation I needed. That even here, in our distant but mutual suffering, he has brought us together, so neither of us need be alone. Much love to you, my friend. ~mc

  25. Thank you for the heart-felt TRUE message! I too am a cancer survivor and it touched me beyond words. May God bless you with his healing through Jesus Christ. Amen.

  26. Thank you for sharing! Awesome words of wisdom and encouragement! I have not walked the cancer fight (thank God)! I have been divorced (but have now been married over 30 years), buried a pre term baby , been betrayed by someone (I believed in) buried my younger sister and her daughter, taken care of my handicapped sister (almost 6 years) almost been evicted (several times) so yes I so agree with you! We all have sorrow and suffer through trials! When I read your postings I am so encouraged! You are a light in the darkness!!! Our Jesus is always with us! Thank you again for sharing! You are an anointed writer! Prayer is our weapon! A sister in Christ!!! I should definitely say I have been blessed in many ways! We have 3 beautiful children and 3 beautiful grands! A good place to live and enough money to survive! We have been tested but God has brought us through! ????????❤️????????

  27. Thank you for your transparency. I have done some of these very same things and I have not been through what you have.Having just completed radiation one month ago the threat of cancer recurring is always there but we do have to have hope , pray for others, keep our focus on Jesus Christ, .I have special bible verses and hopeful, promising songs myself and they do bring me great comfort.I also have asked for prayer support and they have been so faithful to pray. I want you to know that although we have never met, we are sisters in Christ and God puts you on my heart very often. The best to be is up ahead and we will not miss it! Bless you. I am getting off here and praying for you right now . The power of prayer is great. <3

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