Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life is What Happens When We're Busy Making Other Plans

It's been a looooong three weeks since our last meeting, and it was so nice to spend time together!  As much as I was looking forward to hanging out, I knew the topic would be heavy, and could bring up some painful personal experiences for many of us (myself included).

If you've read the most recent post on my personal blog, you learned from Kathi Lipp that it's not enough to just share your story with someone else.  You must take it one step further and share what God has done with that story because that is where ministry happens.  She noted that "the thing that nearly killed you can be used to save someone else's life."

That's exactly the kind of ministry Bridgette Eilers shared with us.

While most cannot directly relate to her personal cancer diagnosis, I'd be shocked if there was a single woman in the Venue on Tuesday who hasn't been touched in some way by infertility, miscarriage, cancer or some other form of loss or chronic illness.  However, I'm confident that we can all relate to thinking we have our lives under control.  We've all been lulled into believing that our plans will come to fruition exactly as we imagined without a single bump in the road, even if it has nothing to do with anything major.

BUT... God says, "I know what I'm doing - I have it all planned out.  Plans to take care of you, not to abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (Jeremiah 20:11, The Message)

We've all run into something we couldn't fix - something we had no control over.  That's not the important part.  What really matters is how we respond to our trials.  Do we continue to battle with God over control, only to end up frustrated and exhausted?  Or do we offer our lives to Him, submitting to His will, even if it doesn't fall in line with what we thought our lives would look like?  Do we desperately search for peace in the world only to fall short and remain desperate?  Or do we fall into the loving arms of the only one who can deliver true peace?

"I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don't be troubled or afraid."  (John 14:27)  Also, 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4 reminds us that God is the source of our comfort, and The Message version adds "He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us."

So I guess MOPs is on to something this year... Share your story.  Be authentic.  And show how God has used your situation to minister to someone else.

After my first (very public) miscarriage, I was shocked at the number of women who came to me and admitted - with darting glances and hushed voices - that they'd lost babies as well.  My first thought was, "Why didn't anybody tell me this could happen?  Why is it such a big shameful secret?"  Our silence simply perpetuates the toxic lie that starry-eyed brides are led to believe - that pregnancy is plannable (is that a word?) and easy and glamorous.  And for some, it is.  But for those who have struggled or lost or dealt with a tough diagnosis, I believe we have a responsibility to be honest about our struggles - if for no other reason than to bring glory to the One who brought us through the junk, offering comfort and peace.

This doesn't mean that our meager words will fix or prevent someone else's problems.  But we can provide some hope.  We can use our personal experiences to assure our fellow sufferers that they won't be left to muddle through the hard stuff alone.

Bridgette used the "thing that nearly killed her" to provide comfort in someone else's life by developing a non-profit organization called The Chemo Crew.  This group offers help and hope to cancer patients and their families by assembling and distributing Chemo Crew Kits filled with books and informational resources as well as comfort items like hard candy (to help with metal mouth) and hot/cold rice packs (to soothe sore spots) and water bottles.  Visit their website to find out how you can donate items for these kits, or volunteer in another capacity.

You don't have to start a full-fledged organization to offer support to someone.  You can bring them a meal, or meet for coffee and let them cry on your shoulder, or rake their leaves, or send them an encouraging card in the mail, or pray with them.

You can share your story... and use it to demonstrate God's love.

Whether we're dealing with cancer or the terrible two's, the truth is that we're not alone.  Turn your sob-story into a testimony, and be a part of God's plan for someone else's life by showing them that they're not alone either.

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