And I Am Changed {a letter}

May 1, 2014

Six weeks.

It been six weeks since my last post here. Six weeks since surgery and The Unknown interrupted life.

It’s blurred into a ball of days, filled with pain and healing, struggle and joy.

Yes. Even joy.

I wish I had something profound for you today, like a rare, shiny something sitting in my hand. Then I could extend it in meaningful offering.

For these past forty-two days, I’ve wondered what I would say when I lifted my life from the pillow and once again sat down to write. Now that I’m here, I find words like a buttefly not yet ready to land. To be honest, the struggle of all this—of heart, mind, body—still consumes. It will ease, I know. Already has, many times over. I’m healing better than expected. Soon enough, a measure of ordinary will settle back in, and life will move forward, beyond illness. Perhaps, then, revelation will land.

But for today, all I have to offer is the girl who’s still healing from all the jagged cuts and gashes. I’m still a bit raw, undone. Healing can not be rushed, I’ve learned.

Even so, from this messy place mid-recovery, I can say this:

I’m not the same person I was six weeks ago.

Something deeper than the six-inch scar on my neck has been altered. I imagine a part of me has died, even as another part came alive. This both terrifies and thrills me.

These forty-two days have been some of the most difficult I’ve endured. “Where did April go?” some of you asked, only this morning. But while six weeks passed in a flurry for some, for others—for me—the long stretch of days were conquered like individual Everests, each a climb.

But in the dreadful pockets of darkness, when strength waned and heart sank, help arrived. I looked up to see a hand extended: A letter. Message. Care package. Flowers. Cup of soup. Bible verse. Voicemail. Card.

“They show up at the most unexpected times, often the most desperate times,” I recently explained to a friend.  “I can hardly believe the kindnesses, the unending stream of words and reassurances from friends and strangers alike.” I shook my head, unable to make sense of the outpouring. “The truth is I’ve come to depend on them as much as my every 3-4 hour pain pills. The nearness of others is helping me heal.” 

… The three straight weeks of hot meals prepared for my husband and children.

… The friend who, although confined to bed and a suffering I cannot imagine, texted me nearly every single day for two solid months, to remind me of faith and courage, and to never stop living.

… The woman who, quietly and without fanfare, committed to fast and pray during those long weeks when I couldn’t eat. To share in my suffering.

… The friend who, when my husband returned to work and I could not be left alone, watched over me for hours as I slept.

… The group of Christian inmates who somehow heard my story, and committed to pray from their prison cells.

… The pair of sisters who, on behalf of a church we don’t attend, loaded up a car with groceries for our family.

… The women’s ministry who pray for my healing every Thursday when they meet. And remind me they have not forgotten.

… The co-workers who, on the darkest of nights, mourned and prayed on bent knees a thousand miles away, doing battle for my life.

… The pictures of so many wrists wearing bracelets, sent with reminders that the prayers have not, will not stop.

… The inner circle of friends who let me mourn and question over long text messages, without ever tiring of my words.

… The gathering of church leaders and pastors who circled our family, laid their hands on our heads and shoulders, and cried with us as they prayed.

There is not space enough to record the offerings. They appeared in my mailbox, email, on my front step or in my hand. In better than 3-4 hour intervals, these gifts warded off the dark and pain and reminded me, until it was burned in my heart, that I do not climb my Everest alone.

As it turns out, I do have something rare and shiny and precious sitting in my hand.

YOU.

Your offerings have been uncommon and unparralled, filled with a love and tenderness and nearness I never expected, but needed more than I imagined.

So I offer this in return, poor words for riches too big to repay:

Thank you. With all my heart, thank you. 

You have carried me. And you have changed me.

I’ll never, never forget.

33 Comments

  1. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Michele, Jesus, our precious Savior, has placed you in our hearts for just this time. It is no accident that you have so many, friends and strangers alike who care about you as if you were one of their own family. These gifts came straight from his own heart because you are precious to Him. Your gifts, the ones He placed within you, will not go unused. You are a daughter of the most High and you are busy, even as you rest, working for Him in His kingdom, and as His faithful servant, you are doing a job well done. Your faith is as gold. HUG for today!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Truly, it HAS felt like these offerings were gifts straight from the Father’s hands. It’s been moving to witness, feel. Unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Thank you for being a part of that, Linda.

      Reply
  2. Lorie Hartshorn

    Dear Michelle,
    Again, I cried and laughed and felt joy as I read your letter today. The word that came to mind was simply, BRAVE. I know, that sounds too strong and giant killer like – but – you are simply brave. Jesus is making you brave. He is giving you endurance and peace in the midst of suffering and pain – that’s brave. You are looking to Him – seeing His hand and embracing the comfort of others – that’s brave. You are receiving, listening for and willing for whatever way this will change you – that’s brave.

    My dear sister – you continue to inspire me – and make me want to be brave.
    HUGS from Canada!!
    Lorie

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, dear Lorie! I can assure you … I feel anything but brave. But there’s something about knowing the reality of God in the midst of all this that makes us feel near invincible. “Nothing is impossible with God!”

      Reply
  3. Michelle Lynn Senters

    My dear friend… (Although we have never met, I’ve read your site, prayed for you, and consider you a friend and sister in Christ.) I pray for a peace and joy that can only come from God. Lean into our Triune God- The Father, who watches over you and covers you with His wings. The Son, a faithful companion who shares in your suffering. And the Spirit, who comforts and reminds you of God’s faithfulness. Much love to you as you heal.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      I hope we DO meet one day, in person. Thank you, Michelle. So grateful for your presence.

      Reply
  4. Chance

    This is so beautifully felt and written. Thank you for sharing such rare and valuable perspective.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      YOU have been a steadfast and faithful encourager. Thank you, friend.

      Reply
  5. Sarah Beckman

    You’re awesome, loved and cherished. Its about time you figured out how the rest of us feel about you ; ) cancer or no… we think you ROCK!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      🙂 I’m officially hiring you as my fulltime cheerleader. {love you}

      Reply
  6. Kathy Stappenbeck(Whiteside)

    Wow Michele! I will not be able to comment well enough to express how I appreciate your
    insight and your writing. I am sorry for your pain, but glad you are healing. In God’s precious and gentle Hands we don’t always know how our lives will be affected, but we know we are safe.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Yes, SAFE! The unknown is frightening … unless you know who sees even the future. We ARE safe.

      Reply
  7. Brenda Quinn

    Michelle, I was off Facebook for awhile so I did not know about your surgery. I send my love to you today, in all you have experienced. I will be praying for you, dear one. How good to read of all the care you have been given and the vast community who love you. Abundant blessing in each moment, Brenda

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      I hope you had a sweet break, Brenda. Thank you for your kind words and prayers. Still a long journey ahead! I pray I’m FAITHFUL, no matter what.

      Reply
  8. Lily

    And we are also changed because of you. Your outpouring of love for all around you has touched many lives. I am reminded every day with my bracelet to “call home” and connect with my loving Father. I am reminded that it is not about me and that there are others with bigger struggles than mine. We long to be in relationship because a God-community created us to be that way. I praise God for your healing, physically, emotionally and spiritually and for the wondrous deeds He still has in store for you and for all of us.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Lily, what a source of JOY you are! I love your spirit and attitude and the constant deluge of HOPE you pour on those around you. I’m honored to call you a friend. {and thank you … picturing your wrist wrapped in a bracelet … it’s a sweet thing)

      Reply
  9. Judy Acker

    You are so special. I am so sorry that you had to go through all that you have. God knew what was ahead of you, thank goodness He does and you (we) don’t. He knew you would need angels around you and sits to stand with you. He knew how many saints you had touched, you just got to find out. God sent a lot to carry you and walk along the path. We serve an awesome God. Our bodies are not perfect and they mess up sometimes. God gives us good doctors and love from friends. I am continuing to pray for you and each day will be getting shorter till you will be back to wondering where the time of the day went. In Christian love.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, dear Judy. Your faithful words and prayers have meant much to me!

      Reply
  10. Melissa Mashburn ~ Mel's World

    Sweet Michelle, what a beautiful peek into the heart of a woman who is wonderfully transparent and completely seeking God in the midst of the unknown. Thank you for sharing your heart, your story and your words with so many…you are a rare and precious gift. {{hugs}}

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Melissa. ONE DAY you and I will get to wrap our arms around each other in person. We’re sisters, with a shared eternity ahead. Thankful for you.

      Reply
  11. Deanna Albrecht

    Michele,

    When I was going through my health issues, I didn’t have the words either — instead I stayed quiet and just pressed into God. While I’m grateful for all the times of deep joy as well, I regret not sharing more of the struggle of it all with friends and in my writing.

    You’ve modeled how to share difficult times, authentically and well!
    Thank you, friend! 🙂

    Reply
  12. Heather Tipton

    Well written.

    Well loved.

    Blessings flow freely.

    Back and forth.

    I love you!

    Reply
  13. Danni Andrew

    This is beautiful. Still willing tears from my eyes. Danni

    Reply
  14. Joy

    You are my hero! Love you friend!

    Reply
  15. Jackie Hobbins

    It is great to see you recovering and your thankfulness is a great reminder to us all!

    Reply
  16. carolee

    Michele,
    We have both hit the 6 week mark of surgeries and you are my reminder of strength! I have had you in my thoughts and prayers as my pain passed and I hoped yours would ,too. What a strong and faithful woman you are. Wishing you peace and comfort in the days to come. God bless you!!!

    Reply
  17. Karin Hurt

    Michele, What a beautiful post of gratitude. You and your family continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so glad to hear you’ve been surrounded by so much love and support.

    Reply
  18. Danielle

    I only discovered your blog tonight, but I already feel that you are here to heal people through your words. Your struggles will give people strength when they forget they have God to lean on. I am so sorry for your struggle, but I am so thrilled that you can see the beauty in the breaking. It is a wonderful gift, though probably one that you would rather not have! God bless you. You are a wonderful woman of Christ. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Reply
  19. Brian Holmes

    Michelle, you are a shining example of what it means to walk by faith, hold your head up, and lead with grace. Sabrina and I continue to pray for you, and know beyond a doubt that your best days, and most effective ministry is ahead of you. Standing!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you for standing with me in this, friend! (P.S. Your wife is a jewel. Loved spending time with her at SCORRE.)

      Reply
  20. Sheree DeCouto

    Feeling blessed to have met you this week at SCORRE. I feel your pain, know your journey well and encourage you to keep up the good fight.
    God Bless!
    Sheree

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Likewise, Sheree. You were a bright light of joy and presence this week. Thank you for sharing a part of your story with me!

      Reply
  21. Kay Paulsen

    You were in my thoughts today so, I went to your blog and found this message. You have been in my prayers and are precious to so many. Thank you for sharing your downs as well as your ups :-). Kay

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download a Preview of Michele's New Book,
A Faith that Will Not Fail

A Faith that Will Not Fail is available to order. Get a free preview of the book by filling out the form below.

Thank you! I am excited to have you on board.

Get the Video Series in Your Inbox

You'll receive one video in your inbox for 7 days.  

Done! Check your email to confirm.

Get the 7-Day Video Series Delivered to YourEmail

You will receive one video per day for seven consecutive days.

Great! Check your email to confirm.

Let's Stick Together

 By subscribing you are agreeing to receive Michele's occasional blog posts, videos and newsletters in your email. Subscribers get exclusive access to her free premium resources.

Yay! Thank you! I am excited to have you on board.

Skip to content