Poor Kendra. Poor Colton. Poor Ryan.
I have no doubt that those words have crossed many people's minds, and probably many people's lips. And certainly that is understandable. Probably most of you that are reading this have been walking this road with me for the better part of two years: the first days when Ryan was first diagnosed, to when we got our first set of great scans, then when we had to try radiation since chemo wasn't working well, then when we got amazing news last summer, to when things started to turn downward, really downward, and then when the bottom truly fell out of our lives. And then...you know how that chapter of the story ended.
Even now, as I spent some time this week reading over our past blog entries, I can have a tendency to feel really sorry for myself.
I'm 28. And widowed.
I have a young son who has no siblings and no other immediate family other than me.
My friends are buying minivans for their burgeoning families. I am buying a gravestone for my husband's burial plot.
And yet, this "woe is me" attitude is simply not a place that I can stay for long.
Because... do you know what I'm about? Do you know whom I serve? The God that I know and the One that knows me is a God of victory.
For me to break out of "victim mentality", it requires a refocusing of my mind from temporal to eternal: from things of finite importance, to things of eternal value.
I want to post some scripture from Romans 8 with my own emphases added. I would love to post the whole chapter, but it is really long. Please do read Romans 8 in its entirety (click here); it's phenomenal.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. ... 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
... 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
...31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? ...
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Wow. So powerful. I almost feel like verse 39 should end with an obscene amount of exclamation points. :) "NOTHING is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
What is it that makes me a victor? It is the hope that I have in the resurrection of Christ, nothing else. It wasn't my marriage, it's not my job, it's not my precious son (although I love him a thousand times more than I love my own life), and it's not my possessions. Lest I think that it's any of those things, I am reminded in the very first verse that I posted above - what we have here on earth, whether it is blessing or suffering, comfort or discomfort - it's not worth talking about. It is not worth comparing to the GLORY that will be revealed in us. Can you imagine what heaven must be like, if everything that we think is so important here on earth, is completely miniscule and trivial compared to that? Wow. Now that is some hope. That is some victory that awaits us.
Maybe you have gone through some trials in your life too. I know for a fact that some people that are reading this right now are in deep pain. (I am actually envisioning a friend reading this very sentence, who has suffered unimaginable loss in her own life only three short weeks ago. Praying so much for you.) Or maybe it's divorce, job loss, or the pain of loneliness. My dear friends, hang on. "...in all things God works for the good of those who love him". It doesn't make sense now. It doesn't. I want Ryan back with every cell in my body, but I have to somehow trust - you do too - that this season in our lives is meant to purify, strengthen, and solidify our faith. Please, let's not fall victim to Satan's desire - that suffering would lead to doubt, and doubt to contempt, and contempt to hatred.
The Bible is chock full of lessons about victim mentality, although I'm pretty sure that the term was only invented in the 20th century. Remember the Israelites wandering in the desert? As Moses and Aaron prepared them and talked to them about moving into Canaan, the Israelites freaked out about the "what ifs". Instead of preparing mentally for the battle that lay ahead, they spun their proverbial wheels about what could possibly happen, completely disregarding the Lord's promises and His proven faithfulness. Heck, they even mention in Numbers 14 that they would rather have died in Egypt or the wilderness than to be where they were, on the brink of entering the promised land.
I will lay it all bare here for you: I have had some days recently when I've felt like an Israelite. I wouldn't say that I've exactly doubted God or His plans, but we've had words. Sometimes those words have gotten intense on my part. I have, for a few moments, felt like a victim. Why is all of this happening to me and Colton and not to someone else?
However, it's flipping that switch in my mind from dwelling upon my circumstances, to setting my mind upon the One who cares so deeply about our hurt, and is cradling our broken hearts. He alone will raise me/us to victory. If God is for us, then who could be against us? What circumstances are too big or too complicated or too hurtful for Him to handle? Those of us who are in Christ Jesus are not victims, because of the hope we have in Him, and the comfort we have through the Holy Spirit.
More than conquerors
When I think of a conqueror, I think of someone wearing battle gear. As most of you know, I'm not really into battle gear, camo, or weapons. I'm more into great shoes and trendy sweaters. However, I am a conqueror because of this amazing hope I've been given. Are you a conqueror? Are you headed for victory?
At the end of the passage, Paul talks about the many things that could potentially get in the way of our victory: death, demons, the present, the future, etc. However, because of the army we have behind us, none of these things matter - none of them can separate us from the love of our Lord.
Unless we allow them to.
What is your mentality, friends? Are you feeling browbeat and defeated, like a victim? Or do you hear that battle cry, the steady drum of the Victor, the Conquering Hero who has defeated sin and offers us a future that is not worth comparing to our present circumstances?
I know that for myself, I choose victory. Choosing the victor mentality over a victim mentality requires work, and it requires me to daily put on my armor. But I refuse to be "Poor Kendra". I have been shown too much mercy, and showered with too many blessings to be "Poor Kendra". I have been rescued, redeemed, and refined by His grace and His love.
I am a victor.