Faith During Times of Challenge

As it is the Easter weekend, it seemed appropriate to talk about faith.

I feel that we rarely talk openly about religion or faith in fear of offending or alienating someone. But it shouldn’t be like that. We should all be able to talk and express our faith without the fear of someone getting the hump. We should also be respectful and accept that not all share our viewpoints and faith.

So this post is all about faith and how it gave me strength through cancer treatments and in Covid times. If talking about faith is not your cup of tea, it won’t offend me if you choose to not read any further and I hope you will be back for the next post.

It all started when I was a kid.

Praying is important to uphold faith
The Finnish words to the same prayer

I have always believed in God. From a young age, I used to say the same prayer every night, which was the Finnish translation of:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my Soul to keep
If I should die before I ‘wake,
I pray the Lord my Soul to take

A ‘chat’ with God would follow the prayer. I would ask him to look after the people I love and talk about my hopes and dreams. Over the years, I might have been less frequent with my prayers, but I never lost my faith.

Faith is knowing that someone is looking out for me.

I have always believed that someone is looking out for me. An example of a time when God was definitely keeping an eye out for me, was when someone spiked my drink.

I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday and was only on my second vodka and coke when I suddenly felt weird. I felt lightheaded and hot and needed fresh air. When I stood up, my legs literally gave up under me.

My friends helped outside, but fresh air did nothing to help me, and I realised it was best to head home. There was a bus stop opposite the bar and lucky for me the bus took me directly home. My friends ensured I got on the bus. They actually wanted me to get a taxi, but why spent £20 when you can spend £1 – or whatever the bus ticket was in those days – even if you are feeling decidedly strange.

Photo by Rachel McDermott on Unsplash

I remember everything up to that point, but nothing after until the morning.

I have no recollections about the bus ride or getting home. It surprised my ex I got home so early. He told me the next morning that I had seemed very sober and that I had chatted normally, saying I had come home because I felt so tired. I had washed my face, brushed my teeth, got into my pyjamas, and gone to bed.

The only reason I know nothing happened to me on the journey is that there was no time. It was clear from the time I got home that I had gone home straight from the bus. Thank God nothing happened as still to this day I have no memory of the events since getting on the bus.

Cancer diagnosis only strengthened my faith.

With faith, I think there are three possible outcomes when diagnosed with something serious like cancer. It can either strengthen your faith, make you question it, or even abandon all hope and faith.

It’s easy to lose faith and start questioning why God would let something like cancer happen to me. But I always thought that at least I had chance unlike someone who, for example, dies suddenly in a car accident or from a heart attack.

Nobody knows what life has in store for them, and I believe it’s important to cultivate acceptance of whatever life might throw at us. Even though it can be bloody hard to accept sometimes.

I love the words from the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.

Acceptance is not the same as giving up.

Faith, hope, love
Photo by chris liu on Unsplash

I definitely don’t mean giving up when I say learning to accept. I had to accept that I had cancer – something I could not change, but I didn’t have to surrender to it. Quite the opposite. It gave me the push and the courage to change the things I can. For me that meant changing pretty my whole lifestyle, so I had a better chance of surviving and less chance of recurrence.

And, as I might have mentioned once, or twice, before, it was a much needed kick up the arse. It stopped me from procrastinating and writing again.

Of course there were times when I felt scared

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t. There were also times when I wondered if I’d make it.

But at those times, I always received reassurance that all will be well. One of those times was when I’d felt really low and tearful all day. That night I had a hilarious dream where I was pregnant.

In the dream, I told Justin I was expecting a child. He said it couldn’t possibly be his as he’d had a vasectomy. That offended me, so I declared it couldn’t be mine either since I have no womb. We concluded it was a miracle baby, and my friends Steven and David were going to adopt it.

Have faith, you are loved
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

I woke up from the dream laughing and knowing that all was going to well. Knowing I would survive. I know some might be sceptical about this (I might be, too) but I cannot actually describe the sense of relief I felt when I woke up.

Throughout the months of my cancer treatments and more recently during Covid times, I have found the ability to have faith a source of strength and positivity. Without my faith, the last couple of years would have been very different and a lot more difficult.

I would love to know what your beliefs are and where do you find strength from during challenging times. Let me know in the comments – and know that whatever your views are, I respect them.

I leave you with the full Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can
And Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,
Taking, as He did, this sinful world,
As it is, not as I would have it,
Trusting that He will make all things right,
If I surrender to His will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen

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