How can this one, tiny, completely ordinary word bear such heavy weight? How can four simple letters and one pesky apostrophe elicit major disappointment, despair?
Through the last 26 months of fighting for my life, I’ve been forced to use this word more often than I’d ever imagined. Can’t has become a frequent flyer on my vocabulary plane.
It all began with phrases like:
- “I can’t stay in college.”
- “I can’t return to school like I expected.”
- “I can’t move.”
- I can’t sit up on my own.”
- “I can’t walk past my mailbox.”
- “I can’t bath myself.”
- “I can’t stand this unbearable pain & agony.”
The can’ts rapidly multiplied into more extremes:
- “I can’t stay out of the hospital.”
- “I can’t drink for _ days.”
- “I can’t eat for _ days.”
- “I can’t eat or drink for _ weeks.”
- “I can’t eat anything by mouth for _ months.”
- “I can’t walk down the stairs.”
- “I can’t get to the basement to spend time with my family.”
- “I can’t get out of my bed.”
- “I can’t be home alone.”
- “I can’t administer my medicines through the feeding tube by myself.”
- “I can’t move without lugging this heavy tube & IV pole with me.”
- “I can’t stop losing weight.”
- “I can’t stop getting sicker and sicker.”
- “I can’t find answers.”
And even now, as things have improved immensly and that state of desperation feels far away… the can’ts still exist:
- “I can’t live without pain.”
- “I can’t eat most solid foods.”
- “I can’t enjoy food.”
- “I can’t stop feeling nauseous yet starving.”
- “I can’t sleep.”
- “I can’t feel energy or strength.”
- “I can’t understand how this is my life.”
- “I can’t drive.”
- “I can’t go to school.”
- “I can’t have a job.”
- “I can’t make any commitments as things change constantly.”
- “I can’t go into a store for more than 20 minutes.”
- “I can’t go anywhere alone.”
- “I can’t believe THIS is my life…”
Yet, I know, with every ounce of my heart & soul, that someday… I CAN.
And all those things which fall under the category of “can’t” are not there because I have given up, not tried, or accepted defeat. They are there because I have peacefully, and proudly, accepted the reality of God’s will for my current state of being. I have pledged to Him my trust, patience, and future. I have pledged to Him my praise no matter the circumstances. I have pledged to keep my eyes fixed on the promise of beauty from ashes. I have completely accepted that HE IS IN CONTROL. I have realized that, through the wonders of grace, I have been saved although I deserve nothing but HELL.
Therefore, this flawed heart sings a tune of gratitude and ever-flowing praise. I can live in a state of unshakeable JOY because I know that the true source of joy lies in Christ Jesus alone.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of joy within them.”
Readers, I never want my writing to sound ungrateful, or to give off a tone that says I do not recognize the MIRACLES that God has faithfully worked in my body from the power of prayers. To Him be ALL the glory!
Yet, He has placed on me a desire to write with a spirit of brutal, painful honesty… sharing the truth of my weakness in order to magnify His strength. For when I am at my weakest, His power is made perfect. Because if HE continuously overwhelms my suffering with His strength, won’t He do the same for you?
This sickness, nightmare, ever-constant war teaches me to crave righteousness. In turn, His righteousness is teaching me to DREAM BIG because the Lord is absolutely limitless. And the Holy Word is stuffed with stories of ordinary people facing, insurmountable odds, who always find the victory in Jesus.
The story of Job has sat on my heart through these health struggles.
Job was a man rooted in faith. His life was dripping in blessings and grace. He had wealth, power, 10 children, thousands of livestock, and countless servants. Yet, he remained “blameless and upright.” And although he lived by faith, EVERYTHING was taken from him in the blink of an eye.
The Lord allowed Satan to test Job, knowing His precious son would not stray.
8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Though Satan killed all of Job’s livestock, servants, and children within minutes of each other, Job still chose to praise the name of the Lord. Soon, he would be robbed of his health, reputation, and will to survive. He questioned The Lord’s plans for his life, he screamed in anger, cried in frustration, moaned in agony & pain. Thought he felt hopeless, He still trusted God to turn all of his “can’ts” into “cans.”
And He did.
“Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, the thick darkness that covers my face.”
The heart-breaking story of Job makes my problems seem so small. My suffering does not compare to all that he endured, through one season of life! Yes, I had my health, youth, friendships, schooling, and ability to live in the world taken away. And yes, we have already lost two grandparents through the process. But I did not lose my entire family in a tragic accident. My parents did not lose their jobs, their incomes, or love for each other. Our reputations were not tattered, our needs were not forgotten.
Job literally lost EVERYTHING. Yet, He still believed. He still praised.
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”
In His beautiful, divine fashion The Lord Almighty transformed Job’s life. All of his “cant’s” turned into “can” and all of his “no’s” turned into “yes.” Ashes became sources of beauty. And God withheld no good thing. Even the bad, awful, miserable calamities that continuously wrecked Job’s life, worked together to create a story that speaks to the glory of God.
In the end, Job was richly blessed (Job 42:10-17) . His livestock was replinshed, two-fold. He was blessed with 10 more children– the most beautiful in all the land. He lived to be 140 with years full of joy and an ever-expanding family.
God is good.
So, so good.
As I sit in my cozy bed, spilling out my heart to you, I feel a deep yearning inside to live out some HUGE dreams. A desire to build something for myself in the glory of God… to find an identity not rooted in disease/sickness.
I’m dreaming of the new & improved Still Waters Blog that is far-reaching, powerful, & well-known. Something that is a source of love, encouragement, and most of all, God’s goodness to readers all over the country! I’m dreaming of the possibility of becoming a published author and officially sharing the unique story The Lord Almighty has written/continues to write through me. I’m dreaming of the opportunity to use my God-ordained gift of Communication/Public Speaking to become an encourager, disciple, motivational speaker who travels to churches, conferences, & colleges to share the love of Jesus.
Now there’s a smile on my face, a new hope in my heart, & joy rushing into my soul. Oh God, I want to GO! I’m longing to MOVE! Mentally, emotionally I am ready. Yet, physically I am world’s away. I know in my heart that I need YEARS of pure healing and placing my energy completely on this tumultuous recovery.
So for nor, I must succumb to the can’t. Because, currently I can’t even commit to posting one blog every 1-2 weeks. BUT, I’m clinging ever-so-tightly to the hope and possibility of the CAN.
When the day comes that God shakes His perfect head “Yes” and tells me, “It’s time my child… you finally CAN,” I’ll be more ready!
Until then, I refuse to wallow in the can’t as I serve a God who knows nothing of the impossibilities and somehow, make all things possible.