Last year one of my old friends was diagnosed with cancer. She hadn’t been feeling well for a while but because she worked and travelled a lot to Africa she thought she caught something there. After undergoing a lot of tests, the real reason was revealed. She was immediately moved to a hospital and started treatment. Her illness started a chain of prayers for her recovery and people of faith from various denominations stood united in the fight for her life. The miracle happened and not too long after that her tests showed she was on her way to recovery. She hasn’t lost any part of her body apart from weight and hair. The relief and joy are back on her face although the smile was there all the way through.
Recently she sent an email to all her friends and those who were praying for her, titled “Victory”. At the end of it she wrote: “Paradoxically, it has been one of the best periods in my life. There have been so many good things that took place because of this illness. He showed His Glory. The Body of Christ has been strengthened, integrated and encouraged. And I was secure and enveloped in His love, free from fear. Praise be to the Lord who uses the worst and changes it into something so beautiful.”
How often do we go through the “valley of death” only to discover it leads to a fuller life? The light is there all along if only we allow it to shine over us. God not only takes you by your hand but He hides you in His. That’s how I felt in my darkest moments when pain and fear threatened to get into the core of my heart – it couldn’t because that place was already taken. I had given it years earlier to God when I asked Him to fill it with His Spirit. I may doubt sometimes that He’s there, particularly if the world shouts louder then the Word but in those moments when you’re squeezed, what’s in comes out.
The day of the renewal of our vows came at last. Before Charlie left for his half day at work he said: “Listen to Spirit Radio this morning, I left a message there for you”. And surely, not too long after that, while I was having my breakfast it was read out loud on the airwaves: “This morning I would like to thank God for helping me to get through the most difficult time in my life and my wonderful wife for being there with me. I’d also like to ask for a prayer today as it’s a very special day for us.”
It felt really good to hear it. Kind of confirmed to me again that he wanted it and meant it.
The place was chosen some time ago, I got my ring done at the jewellers, my mother was visiting for a few days and we were going away the next day. The cliffs and the “devil’s cauldron” were not too far away, we could make it there and back in one afternoon. Luckily the weather was not too bad for this time of the year, otherwise we would be risking being blown away.
We decided it was going to be just the two of us before God. We wrote down our vows, they were very personal and only we knew their real meaning. Nothing of the setting or our clothes was like the wedding day but in our hearts we were as ready to do it as the first time, only more mature and wiser.
When we got there the sun was shining, it was a bit windy and I was worried for a while that a freak wave would wash Charlie off the cliffs when he was throwing the other ring away (the one we got back from Ana). Then we sat down on a rugged, wind blown bench, held hands and exchanged our vows. The sun was shining when Charlie said his part, it started raining when I was saying mine, then it stopped and a rainbow came out (yes, if you know Ireland you know it’s possible…). We couldn’t have planned it any better. We took plenty of photographs and went back home to pack for the next day.
I have very fond memories of that day although I was still carrying a lot of pain in my heart. Day of a new beginning, hopefully this time better.
A well known Belgian psychotherapist Esther Perel, in her popular TED talk about infidelity, said a few things that stayed with me:
“…because I think that good can come out of an affair, I have often been asked this very strange question: Would I ever recommend it? Now, I would no more recommend you have an affair than I would recommend you have cancer, and yet we know that people who have been ill often talk about how their illness has yielded them a new perspective.”
And another one:
“Today in the West, most of us are going to have two or three relationships or marriages, and some of us are going to do it with the same person. Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together?“