I am on a journey, a new path into a wilderness I would not have chosen to explore for myself. With each step the terrain becomes a little more treacherous. The underbrush grows thicker. The trail less marked. My steps are timid and reluctant, but I am moving steadily, often reaching out into this wilderness for something to keep me upright on this journey.
You, my friend, are the something. You are the solid I can lean against while I catch my breath, preparing for the next footfall.
And the next one is a doozy.
On Tuesday, January 8th I will undergo a double mastectomy and lymph node dissection. Since the mass appears to have attached to my chest wall, my oncology team accelerated the original timeline. It is a lot to process in such a short amount of time, but I am inexplicably grateful for this level of care.
Oddly enough, I am calm about nearly every aspect of this step. I’m not afraid of the knife or the pain or the drains. Even looking ahead to radiation and chemo, I’m steadfast in the certainty that I will be healed, totally and completely. The same verse echoes in my heart, a persistent loop of peace.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am making a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness…” –Isaiah 43:18-19
I have surrendered the “old me” and most of the identities attached her. It took four years for me to realize that I will never be the person I was before Lyme disease, and only recently did I finally understand that this is okay. I’m no longer striving to get my old life back because this new me is more –more genuine, more compassionate, more appreciative, more courageous. God has gathered up all my broken pieces and is molding them in something even better. I’ve had to let go of my career, my best friend, my active lifestyle –all the former things –and not dwell on the sorrow and bitterness over these losses. I must trust that God did not choose to make me sick, but He has promised to bring good from these struggles. When I think of my situation, I must remember He did not to this to me; he did this for me.
And there has been beauty in my pain, particularly my spiritual growth; I now have a real relationship with God. I won’t pretend to know how all of this will come together. I certainly do not possess the ability to grasp His plan.
The difference is I no longer have that desperate human need for answers. I am able to simply trust that God’s got this. He keeps His promises, He will never leave me, and He is always good.
Even when life doesn’t feel good.
Cancer is scary, a wilderness of tangles and darkness, but, my friends, God is making a way. I don’t know what or how, and I’m not disillusioned into believing the path will be easy. But in this wilderness, at least there is a path. Lyme disease has none. This path through battling cancer is laid out by my medical team, which takes so much weight off me. But what’s more, in this wilderness I am walking hand in hand with my Savior.
I’ve given Him my fears and put the outcome in His capable hands.
When worry threatens to consume me, I read scripture and cling to His promises.
I listen to the steady beat of my heart and hear, “I. Am. Making. A. Way.”
Do you see it? I sure can feel it.
And I feel your prayers. I feel you loving me through this with your encouragement, kindness, and hope. As I lean in to God, I’m learning to also lean on you, my something solid in this wilderness.
When I take this next step, I know I am not alone. My family is being lifted up, held by so many and cradled by a loving God. There is tremendous comfort in this knowledge. My prayer is that as I, with authenticity and candor, share this journey here, you, too, will be lifted up by God. It’s through our prayers and tears that we are one.
“Tears are the truest connection we have with others, and trust is the truest connection we have with God.” – Lisa Terkeurst, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way
If my wilderness makes your wilderness a little less intimidating, then my struggles are bringing good and glorifying God.
And that is what life is supposed to be about.
Keep coloring, my friends.
(P.S. I actually painted this image and love how it turned out. If you are looking for a soothing outlet, I highly recommend watercolor painting! Check out Let’s Make Art, a monthly subscription that includes four kits complete with paint, paper, and tutorials by the fabulous Sarah Cray. There are no words for how therapeutic this hobby as been for not only me, but also my daughters as we navigate this new terrain.)
Jeana, Your writing is being shared with our church members as we continue to pray for you and your family. You and God have got this! Sending love and prayers.
Willa Jane Loftis
Jena, you are amazing! I don’t really know you, however, I have learned to know you, and admire you, through your blog. I somehow feel connected knowing my Mother was raised in the same loving home that is now yours and John’s. I love your positive attitude and relentless faith. I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers. Oh, and I love your watercolor image! It’s beautiful! Watercolor is also one of my hobbies and I know how therapeutic it can be.
May God bless you, your family, and your medical team. Your recent posts reflects a sense of inner peace that I find profound. You’ve got this….one step at a time.
That is one beautiful painting! You have so many talents, Jena.
Sending love and prayers to all.
**posts reflect (I believe you’re an English teacher:)
Just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you. There aren’t too many of us Jena’s!! God is so good and He delights in you. Love in Him.
I was just thinking of you and “stopped in”, perhaps a little “sisterly” intuition as I see today was your surgery. I hope you are doing okay. I too went on this “journey” you so eleoquently described and am 3 years in remission from BC with lymph node involvement. To my surprise, I did fine and felt good during treatment as I hope you will, but the fear was overwhelming at times so I’m glad you have your faith to sustain you. You’re going to be fine, I just know it.