Live Life on Purpose
Ever have those moments in life when you feel like the weight of the world may crush you? Or that you can’t breathe because the air surrounding you is literally suffocating you more every second?
That’s what it feels like when you hear the words ... “your biopsy showed the tumor was cancer. You have ovarian cancer. I’m so sorry...” Once those words are heard everything changes. Your body is numb and you can’t feel a thing. You hear a voice talking but it literally sounds like a foreign language. You are completely unable to comprehend anything.
But then you go to bed and wake up the next morning. It’s feels like a bad dream but you quickly realize it’s not a dream. It’s actually happening. But you look so normal, so healthy. How can someone so young have ovarian cancer?
I remember the moment when my hair started falling out. Even though I had gone through three chemo treatments part of me was still in denial. I endured the horrible side effects and made it through but I still looked like a normal human (somewhat). I could fake it. But at that moment when I stared at myself in the mirror with no hair it was very real. I had cancer. I looked like I cancer. That moment took my breath away and I felt the weight of it all. It was literally too much to handle.
Each day got easier. I was able to find my strength in the Lord and depend on him minute by minute. During my journey I had contact with a sweet friend of mine named Mandi. We went to high school together. Mandi has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer several years before. While we both had the same type of cancer, our journeys were very different. Mandi would check in periodically with me but she wasn’t able to fully let herself in because it was too painful for her. I totally understood but I was so broken for her. I hated how cancer and events that happened in her journey had such a strong hold on her soul. The enemy had taken her voice from her when she had an incredible story to share.
These moments I just described will be forever imprinted in our minds but then we also have had those moments where we can look back and very clearly see how the Lord was working. I want to share one of those with you.
Fast forward a year or so, it was December 2016. I had just celebrated my one year anniversary of completing treatment and being cancer free. The Team Holly Foundation was in full swing and I was meeting women who were going through their own journeys. One day I got a message from a close friend named Julie saying she wanted one of our care bags to send to a young woman who was a friend of her friend and was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was only 27. Stage 3c. Young and married. Less than 24 hours later I had a message from another friend Robbin who shared with me about this same young woman. Her daughter and this young woman were close friends. I knew this was no coincidence.
I remember when I was diagnosed I didn’t want to really talk to anyone. People couldn’t understand what I was feeling, even with the best of intentions. They meant well but it was too much. I wanted someone to relate to. Someone who did understand. I knew I needed to reach out to this young woman named Brittany. We spoke several times over the next few days. I sent her a bag through my friend Julie. I couldn’t get her out of my mind and just prayed for her. I just had this nagging sense I needed to do more.
One day I felt I needed to reach out to Mandi. Their stories were so eerily similar. Plus she lived so close to Brittany. I knew she would be the perfect person to reach out to Britt. Mandi has such a powerful story of hope and resiliency that I knew she would be an encouragement. I was so scared she would say no... but she reluctantly agreed to reach out and meet her. The rest is history.
These two precious women instantly became friends and spent most of their time together for the next 3 years. Pretty soon after they met and we’re hanging out I began seeing Mandi start to speak about her own journey with cancer. Eventually she would be sharing all the details and helping spread awareness for this ugly disease. I was blown away.
The Lord used both of these beautiful women to serve each other. He used Mandi to give Brittany a person to encourage and build her up. Someone to show her that against odds she could do it. Then God used Brittany to heal Mandi’s broken soul. He gave her courage and strength to work through the pain of her journey so she could step out in faith to share with the world her story. He gave her a purpose. He gave her a voice. Through Britt, Mandi began to #livelifeonpurpose... it has truly been beautiful to see it all unfold.
You see when trials of this life come... because it’s not a question of if but when, it is so hard to see how it could possible be part of God’s plan. How could a young, beautiful and healthy woman diagnosed with advanced cancer be part of a good story? I can’t answer that question in any way except it can.
It is the very moment God shows you how. It is when you realize how God has used your pain as part of his greater story... that very moment takes your breath away. In a very good way. It helps you see that it was all worth it. All those prayers for God to use you for his glory were answered. It’s a 😭😭😭😭 moment for sure.
Two days ago, I traveled down to Georgetown for the celebration service of Brittany’s life. It was the most beautiful service. She very clearly preached her own funeral. There was no need to preach a sermon because Brittany’s life was a true reflection of how a true follower of Christ should live. Mandi also spoke so eloquently about Brittany. I was blown away at her words. It was so beautiful to see the joy in her life because of her relationship with Britt.
On the way home as I was reflecting I had that 😭😭😭😭 moment for sure. It was by no accident that Mandi was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Then several years later I was.... and finally Brittany was. God was very clearly working in each of our individual lives and he weaved each life into his greater story.
What an honor and privilege to be a small part of his greater story. He very clearly was working in the mess of our lives.
Thank you Lord for never forsaking us.
Thank you Lord for your sovereignty in every single detail of our lives. Even the details we wish we could forget completely. They are not meaningless.
May you be encouraged by our stories. My prayer is when you are feeling the fire of your trial that you would press into Jesus. There’s a purpose for your pain. Trust Him. Many times outcomes happen that are unimaginable but he’s so sweet to show us the beauty he creates from our ashes.
Hold tight my friends. He’s there. He’s very real. He’s got you.