Clay and Water

I’m tired, again. Really tired.

Physically, very slow. Mentally, dull and listless.

I just had my 29th chemo infusion and while the Erbitux is easy to cope with when compared to my original FOLFIRI/FOLFOX/Avastin regime, it’s still a hard slog. The Oxaliplatin from the FOLFOX infusions has left me with considerable nerve damage in my feet and toes. A drop in temperature of even only a few degrees is often enough to make standing or walking unbearable, and that’s assuming it wasn’t a cold day to start with. But I love a cold day because the cooler air is soothing on my head and torso. The rash from the Erbitux is subdued by cooler temperatures. The burning somehow bearable.

There’s no such thing as in-between when it comes to cancer. It’s cards down and guns drawn…. all in or you’re dead.

Rock, meet hard place.

And in all of this I am still trying to understand the why’s and the why not’s. So many things I just don’t understand.

Before cancer I was pretty ambitious… to a fault. I was driven but I was driving myself towards things that held no eternal value, no lasting satisfaction. I tolerated certain situations that took me away from my family and allowed my boundaries to be compromised. I tolerated certain people in the foolish belief that they might ‘open doors’ for my future, all the while knowing they were the kind of people I didn’t want to be like. All in the name of ‘success’. But cancer has stripped away the things inside me that sought to benefit only myself and my immediate family. These things I thought I could not do without…. now… cast aside on the road through the valley.

I see a lot of discarded things on this road. Things thrown away by people who have walked the road before me and have come to the same revelatory realisation. Our understanding of eternal things accelerated by our own imminent demise. The deepest cry for mercy bringing with it the deepest understanding.

To the human eye we become ‘victims’…. ‘sufferers’.

Weak.

Sick.

Sad.

Pitied.

We become nothing.

Our brokenness repulsive to those who have apparently got it all together. And yet… the more broken we become, the more cracks that appear, the more light that gets in.

I am nothing. I have always said this. This journey is not about me. It’s not to show you how strong I am, for my strength comes from God. It’s not to show you how great my faith is, for my faith is a gift from God. And it’s not to show you how courageous I am, for my courage comes from God… exactly at the time I need it. Anything you see in me that is good is not of my doing… it’s from Heaven. I’m not the well respected religious leader. I’m not the upstanding citizen. I’m not the guy that’s got it all together. I’m the tax collector in Luke 18 verse 9:

Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

13“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'”

 14Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

You will become more than yourself….

Maybe I’m Superman…. or maybe I’m just on the receiving end of a mercy-full God’s gift.

I am constantly reminded of how broken I really am. My body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. It’s doing things it shouldn’t and is being subjected to ongoing brutality as we attempt to correct its behaviour. My mortality has never been more obvious and I am daily reminded that if God does not intervene in my situation I’m a dead man. And that’s just the physical brokenness. I could write page after page on my own frail humanity. But it’s what Christ offers me…. to fix it once and for all… that turns the liability into an asset. To replace my weakness with his strength. To offer himself in my place.

This journey from who I was to who I was born to be, this becoming, is not a path I would have willingly chosen for myself or for those who love me. Believe me, it’s painful. My body aches almost as much as my heart…  and whether or not it has been chosen for me is open to much debate. But it doesn’t matter. I’m being shaped, regardless. Thrown down onto the potter’s wheel as he digs his hands in and squeezes out the imperfections…. placed into the fire to seal the skilled handiwork. All the while having no idea what I’m supposed to be, what I’m becoming. Trusting in the one leading me…. trusting him for my very life.

“Nothing ever stays the same 
The wheel will always turn 
I feel the fire in the change 
But somehow it doesn’t burn 
Like a beggar blessed I stumble in the grace 
Reaching out my hand for what awaits

I am clay and I am water 
Falling forward in this order 
While the world spins ’round so fast 
Slowly I’m becoming who I am

I will live from my heart
And I will catch the lines of love as they come
Back to You I know they’ll lead
And into You I know I’ll lean”

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~ by Kristian Anderson on April 19, 2011.

24 Responses to “Clay and Water”

  1. Keep strong, Kristian. I’m praying for you.

  2. Thankyou so much for your blog. I have young children too and have just been diagnosed. They have got the bowel tumour out but my liver is full of secondaries. I am about to go through what I expect to be a gruellingly similar experience to you.
    When I came across your blog I devoured every word, thanks for sharing your experiences!! Stay strong and positive!

  3. Being a cancer survivor I can feel the pain you are going trough. Having had cancer, while a mom of 3 kids, I know how much we can endure to be able to be part of the life of our kids and loved ones. I just couldn’t picture myself missing all the special moments. My body ached, sometimes I would cry in silence because just the light on my skin felt like a burn, but then I would look at my kids, and just seeing their smiles was like a breath of fresh air that gave me that little hope that I needed to continue this battle.

    Sending you courage from Montreal

  4. Keep strong Kristian and Rachel,
    I am praying for you too.

  5. Those first words made my heart sink. I hear your words and understand as much as a person who has not battled cancer can understand. The physical things we deal with are exhausting but sometimes, even more so, are the mental and spiritual. “What is it you want me to do Lord? What are you shaping me to be? What is the lesson?” Anyway, as much as I can feel your pain, I do. Thank you for coming here to pour yourself out. I will continue to pray for you and those that love you.
    Sending you blessings from the US.

  6. Hi Kristian,

    In the hands of a Master, simple clay and water is transformed into beautiful objects of art.

    Using His hands, He tenderly takes the lump of clay, mould it carefully before baking it in the high heat of the oven to temper it properly. Once it is cool, He takes the finished product and carefully paints it with wondrous colors and patterns. The finished clay product is truly unique and beautiful – because it has been wrought thoughtfully and miraculously in His hands.

    So, rest assured that He will take you tenderly in His hands and make you a beautiful vessel in His glory.

    Blessings!

  7. Hi Kristian,

    I am one of Oprah’s viewers that was lucky enough to see you and your wonderful wife in person in Aussie. I have pondered over your words, as I always do with each posting.
    I do believe all happens for a reason, as simple and silly as that may sound. I cannot fathom that there is a God that will allow you to suffer as you do without a positive outcome. You have so much to give to the world. And so many more happy memories to make with your wife and kiddos. Keep up the fight, Kristian. You will make it through.
    Be well!

  8. Be strong, have courage, keep the light at the end of the tunnel in sight.

  9. Keep putting your faith in God and everything is possible! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  10. Thank you for being Christ’s Messenger-this world needs you. Feel blessed to be a “chosen one”!

  11. Really inspired by your writings; it reminds me that I need to keep trusting, and to really examine my heart.

    Thank you for your raw honesty and openness. Keep holding on, Kristian. There’s many people praying for you … you’re not alone.

  12. Kristian, your writing is so poetic and honest that I feel like I know you. You’re the friend, the father, the husband, the son, the rock who is a part of all of our lives. I don’t know how much words help right now, but I came across this quote that seems appropriate to share.

    I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. ~Gilda Radner

    You light is shining brightly.

  13. I am continually humbled by your grace, and strength. Every one of your words opens my eyes and heart to seeing God in my own life as I follow your inspiring story. You have every right to be bitter, and angry, and defeated….and yet you still stand there refusing to curse Him. Thank you for that dose of reality…you are living what it means to love God.

  14. I will be praying Kristian, that JESUS will cover you with His amazing love, peace, comfort, healing and for your family..

  15. Wishing you and your beautiful family the very richest blessings at this most precious Easter time. My family and I are still praying for you every day. Andrea Penman, Lisa’s friend in Auckland

  16. […] I read this just 3 days […]

  17. thanks so much for sharing your thoughts – so touching and extremely moving/thought provoking. I am grateful!

    Praying for you and your family each day!

  18. You are such an artist and your paint brush, words. When you are down, my heart aches for you, and when you are in good spirts, it soars.
    I will continue to pray for you! Your faith is such an inspiration.
    The will of God will never lead you, where the grace of God can not protect you.
    You are a mighty soul, Kristian Anderson!!!

  19. kristian and rachel, and adorable children. i have worked with patients battling cancer for over twenty years, and was very moved by your words about leaving less important things on the side of the road, as you walk down that road of revelation. it is so true, and so beautiful. thank you for your words. i will share them with my patients, and they will feel them, and use them as they process their own experiences. and you will be in my shabbas prayers as i light the friday night candles. G-d bless. healing prayers and thoughts are with you all.

  20. Kristian, You are not nothing! Not to the people around you, and certainly not to the ONE who created you. To HIM you are all important as we all are, and HE will continue to hold out HIS hands for you to hang on to while you walk this difficult path of yours.

  21. I’m breathing for you. brother.

  22. Heroes, the people who have cancer for me are heroes. My father died two years ago, ten months before he was diagnosed with lung cancer in a very advanced stage, I saw him fight everyday till the end and each day my respect and my love for him grew up more and more, for me he will be always my heroe because even he knew his cancer was impossible to cure he never stopped to fight and every day was a gift.

    Never lose your hope please, NEVER.

    -Natalia (Spain).

  23. Praying for you x

  24. Your strength is beyond words, you are truly inspirational

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