Friday, February 7, 2014

So A Friend Sharpens

Good morning!  I have enjoyed our last few weeks together very much.  There is just something so refreshing to my spirit when I get behind my computer and just write what is on my heart.  And the amazing feedback from you all just makes it that much more alive to me.  So thank you.

I am going to give you a brief update on the health front- not great news, so let's just keep it quick so as not to out a damper on today's post!  After finishing a grueling round of tests to rule out some things, I was supposed to have some time to just lay low and rest.  Basically take a few months off before pursuing specialists in Boston- however, I have been experiencing several new developments and had some concerning new symptoms, and so my team is concerned at the rate this is progressing and instead of laying low I have more tests lined up.  I just had a new round of blood work, a 24 hour urine test, a CT scan of my lymph nodes and I will be having a biopsy this month.  I have another 2 appointments in the next 2 weeks to discuss the rest of the symptoms and what we will be doing about those...I am very tired, in incredible pain, and am able to spend very little time on my feet.  I do have days here and there when I can get up and do a load of laundry or dishes, and I still maintain that one day a week where I get dressed and actually do my hair and make up and go to church, but that is about the only time I get out of the house.  It is taking it's toll on me mentally and emotionally- I must be the most stubborn person on the planet lol.  I know there is still this small part of me that has not accepted that this is it- this is my life.  And if you cannot accept it, then you cannot move forward and that means you're just "stuck"- and that is a hard place to be and I really do not like it at all.  Jeff is really working with me to help get me to the place where I accept that this is my life now, and I am trying very hard as well- really, I am!

I have a few very close friends who have been with me through all of this who constantly pray for me and talk me through it- and I am so grateful for them.  The Lord has made Himself very, very real to me in this very painful time and many times He has spoken through select people in my life.  As you well know, I am a very private person when it comes to my real life.  I honestly don't know why.  I love people and have no problems making casual friends with anyone, anywhere, at anytime.  I am not afraid of getting hurt and I can't say I have these layers of protection around my heart or anything- but for some reason I just have a very, very narrow list of people who I will talk to on a regular basis and who I will open up my heart to when it comes to my innermost thought and feelings on issues, especially when it comes to my sickness.  I have maybe 4 people in my life that I talk with regularly and these people are people who I talk to, who pray for me, who counsel me- and I do the very same for them.  We uplift one another, saying the good but also knowing when to say the hard stuff.  This is something I have thought about recently- the hard stuff.

You see, part of being a true friend means you want your friend to be happy- but happiness doesn't always mean happy right this moment.  Sometimes you sacrifice their momentary happiness for something much greater.  Sometimes as a friend you have to say something that may be uncomfortable or hard to say...something that you fear may cause distance between you as friends.  Yet if you don't say it you know you are not being a true friend.  Because being a true friend means you watch out for one another.  It means you care not just about how they are doing now, but about how the things they are doing now will affect their later.  I want to say things to the people I love that will make them better as people- that will help bring them closer with God.  That my words would not bring temporary happiness, but eternal greatness.

I have had hard things said to me by friends and by my husband.  I have had things said to me that because I listened, have caused me to take a good hard look at the choices I was making.  It cause me to really pray and really evaluate where I was and where I was headed and ultimately see that I needed to listen to the voices that love me so much.  Likewise I have had to be the one to have difficult conversations in which I ask the difficult questions of someone I love.  Of where I dare to say the things that need to be said- laying a friendship down on the line and risking that someone I love may not take what I have to say the right way.

That is a scary thing.  But if I am a true friend, I think I have no choice but to truly love my friend.

And sometimes, your friend may just have something hard to say to you.  I urge you to listen.

I see us as friends.  Whether we have met or not, I see this blog as a long distance friendship.  Several times I have been "asked" (more like nicely accused lol) if a certain blog post was written or directed at them specifically, or written based off of specific conversation or interaction with them.  Let me just get this out publicly once and for all: I never have, nor will I EVER write TO, AT or ABOUT someone.  I will never write a post about someone or something specific unless I have at LEAST two different sources or encounters with which to reference it, this way it is never about any one instance or situation.  Because yes, I do write about my own life and my own experiences.  But I do not believe it would be writing with principle if I were to use specific encounters to blog about.  Maybe some would think that is ok as long as it were anonymous, but I do not think that is ok.  I want my friends to be able to read my work and not have to ever wonder if what they are reading is about "them".  Now you know.  It is never specifically about you.

But now I will say this- if you ever read my writing and you find yourself in it and maybe you are even a little offended or challenged: GOOD.  Stay open to that.  Realize that there is something bigger at work than just "me" sitting at my computer.  Realize that maybe, just maybe you are supposed to get quiet and spend some time thinking about what is being said.  About what it is that is challenging you.

It is challenging you or even offending you because it is speaking to the parts of you that only a friend would dare to speak.  It is speaking to the parts of you that somewhere deep inside you know are not right- that you know need to change.  And you can blame, or get angry, or come up with excuses but the truth is, when it's just you alone with yourself you cannot escape the truth of who you really are.  And that is why I challenge you not to run from the hard things said to you in love.  But instead to take those things and really apply them to yourself.  You will be amazed at the kind of person you can become when you drop your guard to people who truly love you and want the best for you.

So now what?

Now, I am going to pray.  I am going to read the Bible and see what speaks to me- what things I feel are being spoken directly to me.  I am going to listen to what my husband and friends are really saying to me- because they know me best of all.

Because I can't do it alone.  Neither can you.

You know before I publish any blog I have my husband read it.  At first it was just to get his feedback- to see how he liked it.  Now to be perfectly honest I need him to check my writing as well- between my medication and my illness I am having an increasingly difficult time putting together basic sentences and thoughts.  So I have him read my work to make sure my point is getting across and my actual sentences are making sense.  But he told me he enjoyed this post because it was "light".  He said it was a nice change of pace as I am not talking about character or pleading with you about the depths of your soul for once.  I could not help but laugh...apparently I am very intense!

So I hope you enjoy the "light" week, and please think about what I said.  Do not be so easily offended but instead, be someone who is quick to take a look at their own shortcomings.  It will make you a better person if you do.

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17

I hope you have a wonderful week!  And also I hope you have a speedy recovery Amy Breton!  ;)

*I dedicate this post in love to some special friends of mine.  Friends who know me well enough to know how hard I make it for people to be close to me- and yet have not let that deter them from getting close and speaking life and love into my life.  Thank you Maria and Tricia for being my right and my left- for being Jesus to me when I have needed it most.  We go back many years and many memories and the friendship is one tested over time- I value it and I hold it like a lifeline.  You know who I am.  Thank you for letting me be who I need to be and loving me anyway- I love you so much.  To Erica, for the years we have spent building our friendship, never giving up, always holding each other up no matter what our differences are- that's real friendship.  And thank you Josiah and Jennifer N. for always being just a text away on the many nights when I need a friend and a prayer- I have leaned on you more times than you know.  And to Emily whose prayers and love have never ceased.  My life is sharper because of all of you.  And to so many in my life who have held my hands up when I am too weak to hold them up myself, and who pray without ceasing.  Thank you.  

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