Shaken and Stirred
I love how James Bond, Ian Fleming’s creation of the cool, sophisticated British Secret Service Agent, describes how he likes his martinis: shaken not stirred. I’m probably making this up, but I’m thinking it’s a metaphor for how he handles danger. The circumstances the writer creates in the novels and movies shake Bond but he is so confident and ingenious that he never gets stirred up. He never seems flustered. I wanted to title my story of being diagnosed with cancer ‘shaken not stirred.’ I envisioned myself being so cool under the pressure of a scary diagnosis. I pictured myself suffering well and gladly because of my rock solid faith in Jesus Christ. I wanted to be wise and collected and face the danger with aplomb like 007. However, I am both shaken AND stirred.
The literal shaking started in my hands while I was attending a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Thirty-two of us from my home church, Mount Ararat Baptist in Stafford, Virginia, were attending the “Drive Conference” being held at North Point Community Church for three days. I’d had a biopsy the week before and was told to expect the results during that time frame. My husband begged me not to go, as he was afraid I’d miss the call, but I was eager and promised him I’d pay attention to my phone. Unfortunately, his fears proved accurate and the morning the doctor called I was so swept up in the worship, the messages, the fellowship of other believers, the great conversations happening about ministry that I missed the call from the doctor. As I exited a session right before lunch I checked my phone and realized it. I headed outside to get alone and listen but couldn’t clearly hear the message he left. I tried calling him back but all I could get were receptionists that couldn’t locate him. Then my phone went dead. The next couple hours my hands shook so hard I couldn’t even operate the phone charger a sweet North Point person found for me nor hold my phone. Thankfully, friends surrounded me, prayed over me, told me jokes, loved on me. At one point we trooped back into a worship service and as we were singing this song that had captured me from day one of the conference about ‘resting in the Father’s hands,’ my phone rang.
Once the diagnosis was explained (triple negative, stage 3, breast cancer) and I notified my family, the physical shaking stopped and I really was strangely calm. I was buoyed by all the phone calls and texts and the 31 brothers and sisters of my home church loving on me. Little did I know that the spiritual stirring and shaking was just beginning. I thought I was the James Bond of the Spiritual world and that I’d sail through this glorifying God by “considering it all joy that I had encountered this particular trial.” After all, some of my real heroes that I aspire to be like had certainly suffered much worse then a temporary bout of cancer and they didn’t flinch! Jesus was crucified, for crying out loud! The Apostle Paul lists a whole string of horrible things that happened to him to include floggings, beatings, shipwrecks, being left for dead. I’ve read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs…being burned alive is no piece of cake and yet saints of old faced it squarely. Corrie Ten Boom, surviving the horrors of a Nazi Concentration Camp and yet being known for her joy in the Lord and an incredible peace. A contemporary of mine, Andrea Holmes, suffering through her husband’s cancer diagnosis and death and yet always standing firm on what Scripture teaches about trials and her faith was not stirred. So many more. I was going to be strong and courageous like my heroes and make Jesus proud! It’s my turn now, I thought, to really suffer and exercise the muscle of faith. Faith isn’t faith till it’s tested and here’s my big test, right? I was determined to pass it with flying colors.
I sang over and over and over, before and after the diagnosis, this little chorus…”I will rest in the Father’s hands.” He was about to teach me that I knew very little about what that REALLY meant. You see, I was going to be the hero of this new chapter in my story because I would face the danger with faith! Like Bond, I would rely on my confident assurance of what I already knew to get me through to the other side of this peril. Alas, the ‘Drinkmaker’ decided there was so much more for me to understand about myself and Him.
This blog series is an attempt to put in writing all He’s shown me from those early days of diagnosis. I had no idea then how completely my life would change. How all the activity and travel and ministry I was involved in would suddenly stop completely and I’d have nothing to do but be ill. I couldn’t have guessed how completely shattered the chemotherapy would leave me feeling on the inside, and how my reduced life would leave me frustrated and fidgety and feeling useless. I’m almost two months into treatment now and it’s time to try and capture some of the thoughts, feelings, Spirit-promptings in words.
I’d be greatly honored if you’d like to walk through this cancer valley with me by reading along and sharing your own thoughts back in the ‘comment’ section. Somehow walking is much more enjoyable with a couple companions alongside!
Katie Hawkins is the co-host of the podcast, She Speaks Stories, which shares exploits of our extraordinary God to bring hope, joy, and courage to their listeners. Katie is also a member of Mount Ararat Baptist Church with her husband Mike, former moderator of NorthStar Church Network, and an Alpha teacher. Follow along with Katie at her podcast (linked above) or through her blogs which will be posted here periodically, under the category "Stories."