A Turtle Creates a Village

God, I offer myself to You–

to build with me and to do with me as You will.

Relieve me of the bondage of self,

that I may better do Your will.

Take away my difficulties, that victory over them

may bear witness to those I would help

of Your power, Your love, and Your way of life.

May I do Your will always.

(3rd Step Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous)

I sat quietly with this prayer daily, starting in January, 2005.  It took the place of resolutions.

In late February, 2005, I found an odd lump in my groin.

On April 15, 2005, I was diagnosed with cancer–non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

I had 2 malignant lymph nodes, but no symptoms and I felt fine.  After tests, the treatment plan was “watch and wait.” That took a while to accept. God and the doctor and I have “watched and waited” for almost 10 years.  Still no symptoms and no treatments. Dr Sherrill says at each checkup, “It’s still in remission.”

Go back and read that prayer again.  I’ll wait.

I started writing emails to a group of spiritual friends shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer.  I didn’t want to talk about it much, but I wanted people to pray for me and I felt compelled to share what happened and how I dealt with it, including my faith journey.

I’ve written before about being an introvert and a turtle.  When things get hard, I pull into my shell.  I’ve learned, though, that I can invite people in through my writing.  And I often feel pushed to write for this blog by a powerful and irresistible force.  I can resist for a while, but God starts writing in my head and it doesn’t go away.

This piece started forming in my head a couple of weeks ago.  I had cervical fusion surgery on December 2, 2014, to correct a place at the top of my spine that moved to a dangerous position because of damage from my rheumatoid arthritis.  A piece of my spine was impinging on my spinal column at the very top.  A fall or car accident could have ended my ability to breathe.

I’ve had several other surgeries, including a total knee, in the past 10 years, but nothing scared me like this one. It was “a big surgery,” Dr. Pool, the neurosurgeon told us. I asked the retired man I live with the morning of the surgery not to let them keep me alive on a ventilator if things went wrong.

The first couple of weeks after this surgery were very hard–lots of pain. I was grateful to be whole and breathing and alive.

Before the surgery, I started another email list of pray-ers.  And once again I could feel the power of the prayers. I don’t know how to explain that, but I know it’s real. I felt surrounded and encircled by God.

I try to tell God that I’ve fulfilled my 3rd Step Prayer obligations.  10 years is enough of this “take away my difficulties so I can show how God works in my life” stuff.  But more challenges come.

With each surgery, each setback, each test of patience and hope, I learn again that things will change.  And it’s all a bit easier when I remember God is with me. Not everything can be fixed completely. Sometimes it’s just different. Then I figure out how to live with it and keep going as best I can.

If I ever write a memoir, I think I’ll title it “Okay, God, Now What?”





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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Happy to hear the surgery is over and you are on the mend: gentle peace as the healing continues, and thank you for sharing your wise words, witness to God’s presence, and the truth of your ongoing journey.

    • Thanks for your kind words. I just couldn’t say no any longer.

    • Thank you, Kitty, for reading and for your support.

  2. You have my email address. Please honor me by putting me on your “pray-ers” list. God listens to me too but frequently keeps me in suspense. Glad that none of those E of L decisions had to be made on your behalf…especially glad for the retired guy. Sending you gentle hugs and am already on the list…just need the updates or notifications that there is another hill to climb or something to be grateful about. Have already sent some of the latter upward. Peace be with you, my friend.

    • Thank you, Suzanne. All prayers and words of concern help.

  3. Robin, you are starting to sound like a pilot! All the planning and all the faith in self, the unseen hand of fate, weather, poor engineering and parts that fatigue and fail without warning, and still pilots take to the air.

    Most of these questions in the end can only be answered by faith. You are an inspiration, and a reminder of what that means. I pray for you constant improvement. I hope you are over the worst.

    • I love this! I am the pilot of my life.

  4. I needed to hear this today. Hope you are continuing to improve. I love the name of your memoir!

    • Cathy, I’m glad if this helped you. That’s why I do this.

  5. You are a true inspiration, Robin. God Bless you in your life’s journey …

    • Thanks, Bev, for reading and for your comment.

  6. Robin, Thank you for sharing this wonderful testament of how God works in your life. Put me on the list too. I am a pray-er. Thanks also for the prayer at the beginning. We both (my retired one) love it and will pray it for ourselves and family members.

    • Thanks for your concern, Ann. It was good to see you all the other day.

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