Postponed graduations, cancelled A Levels and abrupt endings with no goodbyes are situations currently being faced by students and school leavers all over the country. But as in any difficult situation, there is always hope.
Cara, who recently joined in with Online Small Group Training, had just graduated and was about to begin her career as a teacher. Not long after her graduation, she was faced with devastating uncertainty when she was diagnosed with cancer at just 24 years old. Now, a few years on, she shares some of the lessons she learnt when undergoing treatment, that she is holding onto now as we face lockdown and the uncertainty that it can bring.
Similarly to social distancing and self-isolation, an indirect side-effect of cancer treatment is the need to isolate to reduce risk of infection. Throughout Cara’s treatment, she was required to keep contact with other people to a minimum, which at 24 years old, ready to start her career, felt like an unfair setback.
“I was in a season of isolation because I was sick, whilst the rest of the world was doing their life.”
Cara was faced with a choice. She could choose to live in disappointment and unmet expectations, or she could choose to challenge them, asking God what He wanted to teach her even now.
“During that time, I discovered a perspective of releasing expectations.’
Cara admits that throughout her life, she had built expectations of what the years after university and beyond would look like for her. It wasn’t until the diagnosis put a pause on her plans that she began to realise what really mattered.
“I had to go through a whole release of my identity and reassess who I really was. After everything was ripped away, I asked the question, who am I?”
Cara recognised that this season provided her with an opportunity to ask herself the question, ‘who do I really want to be?’. When all the distractions were stripped away, she was able to grow the most in her faith.
“I learnt that having faith in Jesus is the most important thing. If I die tomorrow, I know who I’m going to see. If I get sick again, I know and love my Saviour.”
It was in the solitude of treatment that she developed rhythms that sustain her faith even now. Those rhythms include reading her Bible in the morning and the evening, regularly journaling and enjoying exercising. They may not seem like profound habits, but for Cara, she was determined to look for the gifts Jesus gives in every situation.
“I came away with wanting to be changed. I wanted to live my life differently.
When reflecting on how this season could impact the world we live in, Cara says this. “We can be different and better people if we decide to be open to looking for the gifts Jesus gives in every situation.”
If you’re facing disappointment right now, consider what gifts Jesus could be wanting to share with you.
What rhythms can you learn in solitude that you can share with those around you?
What gift is Jesus trying to give you?
How can you choose joy over disappointment in this season?