Although they would never discount their Savior, they want something more tangible than their name written in an invisible book of life: Who am I? My backdrop is a Christian, but I’m a warrior, a cancer survivor. Know and respect me by that.
A strange thing happened when word first spread that I had stage III breast cancer: I began receiving all things pink. Pink quilts, teddy bears, and t-shirts covered with breast-cancer symbols. Even letters written with pink ink on rosy paper. Each gift welcomed me into a special club. The sisterhood of cancer warriors.
Long after my surgery and treatment, whenever I encountered other Christians in the sisterhood, they immediately connected with me as their fellow cancer survivor. If other women were among us, I sensed they had to stand outside our intimate circle of shared suffering. I congratulated these survivors for being cancer-free, but I’d glance at their breast-cancer pins and think, Are you ever going to move on? Is there no better topic of discussion than, “Have you had your annual breast exam?”
Hear me: my intention is not to disparage anyone who has survived the tough rigors of breast cancer. But I wonder if some of these Christian women are longing for security and significance that’s more touchable than a faith whose substance is merely hoped for and frustratingly unseen — longing to be a part of something that actualizes one’s identity. Although they would never discount their Savior, they want something more tangible than their name written in an invisible book of life: Who am I? My backdrop is a Christian, but I’m a warrior, a cancer survivor. Know and respect me by that.
In Christ Alone
In a way, I understand the struggle. My quadriplegia constantly clamors for my undivided attention: empty leg bag, deal with pain, arrange for help, adjust corset, charge wheelchair, look for access, and grab that handicap parking spot before someone else does. It’s my world. Then again, it is definitively not.
My world, my breath and very being — my identity — is in Christ and Christ alone. I am not my own; I was bought with the price of God’s blood (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Satan hates that. He will do everything he can — use my wheelchair, my notoriety, ministry, whatever — to focus me away from Christ.
So, I heed the warning of Deuteronomy 11:16: “Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.” Am I saying that my ministry to people with disabilities or your precious Shih Tzu with her tiny bow is an idol? If they compete for our singular devotion to Christ, then yes.