There's a story in the book of Exodus about a battle between the Israelites and Amalekites. Joshua and the soldiers fought valiantly down on the battlefield while Moses and two of his closest confidantes stood at the top of the hill watching.
Here's what happens next: As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up - so that his hands remained steady until sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to remember and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord."
Over the past six months and ten days, I have been fighting a battle against the fiercest enemy of my life: kanswer. I have grown weary. I have been wounded. I have scars that will always remind me of this difficult stage of my life journey. I have wondered how I would - and even if I could - survive the battle.
Over the past six months and ten days, you all have been my "Aaron and Hur." You have held me up. You have loved me. You have written to me, called me, lit candles for me, and visited me. You have brought me meals and sent me flowers. You have written cards, bought hats, invited me on retreats, even offered me free admission to your online class. You have emptied my drains, let me snuggle with your baby, and treated me to countless lunches. You have driven me to the beach, to chemo, and to doctor's appointments.
And as long as you have been with me, in spirit, in prayer, and in the flesh, I have been able to win the battle. I have had strength that is not mine alone. I have laughed through tears at your jokes and stories. I have marveled at your tenderness, your generosity, your encouragement, and your presence. Your strength, your prayers, your meals have raised me up from my bed so that I can walk.
How can I ever thank you for that?
Recently I was reminded of how this kanswer journey is like a cross-country course. Everyone starts out at the same time and sets off on the race. Up hills and down the other side. Into the woods and out the other side. Finally, you enter the arena and finish up on the track or at least in the presence of the cheering crowd. My friend reminded me that during the cross country race, the runner runs alone. No one sees you fight through those muddy, messy trails. No one knows how difficult the hills are because, as much as your coach and family members are wishing you the best, they aren't with you all the way.
Over these past six months and ten days, while I have run, walked, limped, crawled, moaned, groaned, whimpered my way through this kanswer course, you have been my coaches and my cheering supporters. You have applauded, offered sustenance, and stood along the path wherever and whenever you have been able to do so. Even when I've been in the darkest, steepest, most challenging stretches, when I find myself laying down on the trail to cry, to feel sorry for myself, to catch up on much needed rest, I hear your cheers in my ears. I read your messages. I know that when I emerge from the shadows of the valley of recovery, pain, and fear, you will be there. You are still there.
How can I ever truly thank you?
One way that I will continue to thank you and thank God for the victories we have won together is by writing it down. I am keeping my journal close at hand and writing blog posts about what I am learning and experiencing these days. Sometimes I feel like I'm making similar gratitude lists day after day and week after week. That's because your steadfast love has been just that - steadfast, steady, persistent. That's because God's faithfulness is unwavering. That's because I can't do much more than simply receive the many gifts of grace that are flowing in my direction these days.
Another way that I will continue to express my gratitude is by paying it forward. I have taken advantage of several opportunities to encourage other women facing breast kanswer because of the encouragement I have received. I can share my joy because of the abundance of joy God has freely provided and you have shared with me. Freely have I received, freely I will give.
God's peace surpasses all my understanding.
Sweet Momma Jesus whispers words of love when I despair.
You have held my arms and my heart up in ways you cannot fully comprehend.
I am filled with an inexpressible joy.
I look towards the future with deepening hope.
I am grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful.
Gratefulness is flowing from my heart...
(if you have five minutes, check out the song I've linked here,
one that I sing and cry my way thru often these days.)