Embattled Christian

When I was an EFY counselor a few years ago, I worked a session with an amazing session director.  He told us a story about a woman he knows name Jeannie Snow.  She was diagnosed with cancer and she has been blogging about it for quite a while now.  He shared with us a touching story about how she felt the love of God while trying to come to terms with it.  I wanted to share that experience here.

Jeannie was feeling sick and knew that it was something more than a cold.  After a few visits to the doctor, she received a phone call from a doctor telling her she had cancer.  The following is an entry from her blog, Embattled Christian:

As I hung up, tears rushed to my eyes. I felt all energy, joy, and hope drain suddenly from my body. I wondered how I could maintain any normalcy?  How could I face people without melting into a soggy mass of tears, and spilling the whole story? How could I contain the overwhelming drama that had so rudely overtaken my orderly life?

I then remembered the lessons of grieving I learned when my parents had been killed. I realized that the best thing I could do was stop trying to maintain control right there and then and let go. Grief needs to be let loose and sooner better than later.

I let the worst case possibility come vividly to my mind. I could endure a great deal of suffering and then I could die. My husband and children would suffer great anxiety and emotional pain. My heart ached and the tears flowed as I thought of my children, grown-up though they may be, having to live without the support of their mother (which I know too well is very difficult.) I thought of my grandchildren not having their Grandma Jean. I got angry at the cruelty of life. I had so much to live for. I stomped through the house slamming doors.  I cried and cried with great heaving sobs. I stormed into my walk-in closet where I threw myself on the floor and howled with rage. I had so much to live for. So many people depended on me. I had so much more to do with all that life had taught me.

After about an hour of giving myself over to anger and mourning, I suddenly straightened up, energy flowed back into my body. I felt the comforting presence of the Savior standing beside me.  My body was filled with love and joy.  My heart and mind overflowed with a spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving. Over and over the words came to my mind:   “I am so grateful for the gospel, I love the gospel. I love my Heavenly Father, I love the Savior. I love the plan of salvation.” It brought to mind the words from the Book of Mormon “singing the song of redeeming love.” As if that presence requires the soul to sing with joy.

I knew that everything would be all right whether I lived a short time or many more years. I knew that no matter how devastating the situation seemed, our family would grow, those around us would grow. I will grow, and the presence of the Spirit will be there to comfort and teach all of us.

I realized that I wouldn’t always feel so confident and spiritually lifted up.  I understood that I would need to savor that moment, store it up for the future when it will come back to me over and over to give me confidence and strength.

More often than not, people survive cancer and live many years, even long lives, in spite of it.  Now that I’ve faced the worst possibility, I’ll focus on the work of treatment which will undoubtedly be difficult. One step at a time: one day, one hour, five minutes at a time.

I remember thinking this was so beautiful when I first heard it.

I’ve had similar experiences.  I don’t want to say that dealing with SGA is anything comparable to having cancer.  I think I would rather be a gay mormon than to have cancer.

I remember a few times that I have been upset with God for putting me through this.  Why the hell do I have to want something so bad, and in order to be in complete harmony with the church, not give in to what I want?  Why do I have to endure hateful rhetoric in an environment that should not be a place where that occurs?  Why do I have to experience the pain of peope putting me on a lower level then themselves because “there is something wrong with me”?  Why do people think that I have less faith or am less worthy than them?  What the hell?

I let myself feel upset about this sometimes, but God always has a way of letting me know that I have to do this and he has a reason why.  I know that he loves me and he knows what he is doing.  I do believe that.  I don’t understand why and I don’t know why it has to affect people the way that it does.  Sometimes I want to give up and get a boyfriend.  Sometimes I just want to be “normal”.

Every time I have gotten to a low point in my life where I want to give up the church because I have too many questions or because I want a relationship, God always steps in and gives me a reason to keep going.  He helps me to see a light at the end of the tunnell. I don’t know what that light is – I don’t believe that it is marriage or being “cured”, but I do know that there is something for me in the future, and if I keep doing what I feel God is guiding me to do, I will attain it.

I have so much going for me.  I have an amazing family that is so understanding.  I have a great job.  No, I have an incredible job!  I live in an environment that allows me to choose what I will and won’t do, and that decision is based solely on myself and what I really want.  I have great straight, gay, and MoHo friends that I love dearly.  I’m getting a good education, and will someday be able to help other people live the lives that will help them be the best people they can be.  I have a lot of good things going for me.


3 Responses

  1. Just wanted you to know I loved your post. I truly believe that when you don’t think you can keep on going or doing the things that you know you should be doing that the Lord steps in and takes over. Hang in there. Remember anything that is worth having is very very hard to obtain.

  2. “I don’t believe that it is marriage or being “cured”, but I do know that there is something for me in the future, and if I keep doing what I feel God is guiding me to do, I will attain it.”

    I don’t know what the Lord has in mind for you, but please never close a door that he may want left open.

    You are an incredible man. You are blessed with a wonderful family. You are doing so much good by opening your heart and home to so many.

    I love you!

  3. Hey, I just wanted to thank you for welcoming me into your home. It was a great experience and I hope I can come again.

    And by the way, I totally related to your most recent post.

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