Monday, August 21, 2006

Damaged Goods

“As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.'” ~ Romans 3:10, 23

I promise not to keep writing about my mastectomy, but I’d just like to share a few more thoughts I’ve had this past week.

Initially, I cried very few tears over the loss of my breasts because I was so relieved that the cancer had not spread and the doctors didn’t discover any invasive cancer cells in my lymph nodes or breast tissue. But post-traumatic stress is a very real thing, and now it seems I’m making up for lost time! No matter how convinced Keen and I are about the merit of the decision we made, it has still been very traumatic to have part of my anatomy amputated.

Earlier this month we traveled to Kiawah Island, South Carolina, for the annual Van Kirk family reunion. It was a beautiful spot located right on the beach, and we all had a grand time touring historic Charleston, kayaking, swimming, riding the waves, enjoying some delicious seafood and Southern barbecue, and of course, spending time together.

The Van Kirk Family at Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Yet for some reason it was emotionally more difficult for me to have my immediate family see me without my prosthesis. But I didn’t really have any choice since it was hotter than Hades down there and the only way to survive was to dress as lightly as possible!

Eileen "staying cool" in Kiawah

As I continue to adjust to my breast-less chest and the ever-present scars that I see when I look in the mirror, I am reminded of the message contained in the above Bible verse. From a spiritual standpoint, we are all damaged goods. But thank God for Jesus, who paid the ultimate price for our sins and moral failures.

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” ~ Isaiah 53:6 (NASB)

Although we may strive to “do what Jesus would do” and live godly lives, all too often we fall short of the glory of God. But the size or quantity of sins we’ve committed in our lifetime makes no difference to God, for where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. (Romans 5:20). As long as we accept God’s free gift of forgiveness – by faith – then we are washed completely clean.

“Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, "though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18 (NASB)

A beautiful Christian friend of mine recently sent me a note which emphasized this point in a unique way. “If you look closely,” she wrote, “everyone has scars – some real, some imagined; some physical and some emotional. You have chosen what is important. You chose life and life more abundantly . . . Jesus is the Answer, and He heals all our scars.”

That is so true. My friend Pat Barrett described it this way in her poem titled, “Lessons in Dents and Chips.” This is a short excerpt from that poem:

When I look at scratches and dents
I’m reminded to keep perspective
God uses me to serve Him
Even though I am defective

Just as I must learn to live with my physical “scratches and dents”, we must all learn to accept our personal faults and shortcomings. Most importantly, we need to realize that God loves us, despite our imperfections, and He wants to use our lives to shine forth His love to the world.

“I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good beside or beyond You.” ~ Psalm 16:2 (Amplified)

Keen II, Keen, Eileen & Kirk Van in Kiawah (try saying that 10 times fast!)