10 Reasons Why Cancer is Awesome 

Cancer isn’t awesome. It’s pretty craptastic actually. Despite this, I have come across a few benefits to entering this hell storm. 
1. Airport Benefits

Aw, the power of the wheelchair at the airport! My sister convinced me that I would need wheelchair service at the airport, as I would have just had chemo 6 days ago. The first week typically depletes me of all energy, so this sounded reasonable to me. Bruh, I contemplate purposefully breaking a leg the next time I fly internationally just to receive this glorious and devine perk. 

This. Was. EVERYTHING. 

This service allowed me to be pushed around by airport personnel, bypassing the lines at security, customs and boarding. I waited for nothing (except for my Starbucks order to be filled, because let’s not be greedy) and moved not a single one of my legs. It was glorious. Particularly when we arrived in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at an airport that was very crowded, busy and foreign to me. Being escorted through the mass of people trying to get us to stay at their hotels or purchase their taxi service was a blessing, and without it we may still be there trying navigate through the crowd of people. 

Might I add my travel buddy also benefited from this perk. You’re welcome. 

2. Free Hugs & Kisses 

I’ve never been caressed more than I have in the past 6 months. As I’m writing this I realize that for some of you this is not a win. With irritation you would consider this a loss because you hate being touched, whether by loved ones or strangers. For me it brings me comfort and at times I’m a little tickled by it. 

During my vacation in Mexico I repeatedly ran into an elderly woman who was fastenated with my bald head. She complemented me often, telling me how well I wore my look. At our last encounter, without saying anything, she grabbed my head with both hands and kissed it. While this is both strange and an invasion of personal space, I recognize the love behind it. She wasn’t the first (and I hope not the last) to show spontaneous love toward me. 

3 Converstaions with Debbie

Cancer forces you to have a lot of deep, personal conversations with yourself. None have been more challenging to have, than the one you must have daily with your inner Debbie. You know Debbie, that heffa that keeps telling you to give up on yourself. She always says things like, “You can’t do this. You should give up on yourself. You’re not strong enough. Eat more kale.” I can’t stand her. When faced with trials you have to learn how to talk back to her, and put her in her place. 

“I’m. Strong. Deborah. I’m resilient, disciplined and courageous. I can overcome anything. I will overcome everything. Heffa.” 

I’ve gotten to a point where I like having these conversations with Debbie. Nothing like going in on her at 4am while drinking ginger ale and eating crackers while trying not to vomit. I feel like a true warrior, and it’s at that moment that am I truly connected with my inner strength. I think she’s made me a better person. 

Thanks Deb. 

4. Care Packages

I have been blessed with many wonderful care packages since diagnosis! There are many items a cancer patient is in need of to help them through their journey- thick creams/lotions & chap sticks to combat dry skin, hand santizers, ginger snacks and crackers to defeat nausea, head scarfs and more! My Villiage made sure that I never went with out, by sending several care packages throughout treatment! I have received magazines & coloring books, journals, candy and scarves ( I’m currently using one of these beautiful head scarfs to wipe the perspiration off my forehead, from a current hot flash I’m experiencing. I’ll tell you more about the joys of that internal hell later. I digress.) all of which have been used and appreciated greatly! To My Village- you’re the real MVPs. Thanks for your generosity which helpes me to defeat this thing with comfort, dignity and love. 

5. Obscene and Indulgent Eating 

Because cancer I am deprived of nothing. I see it, I eat it. All of it. Nothing was considered to be too fat, to have too many calories, to not contain enough nutrients etc. I ate the chocolate cake, the burger, the milkshake, the Snickers, the fried chicken and the cobbler, while helping myself to seconds and dessert. I knew nothing of kale and treated myself to gluten everything. 

And it was deliscious. 

What made this all the more marvelous was that nobody felt the need to correct this bahavior- everyone cheered me on! Because cancer! Because I was apart of the rare few who didn’t lose their appetite and suffer from sever weight loss. My Village took this as a sign to “feed it” and consistently blessed me with snacks and food deliveries of all kinds! Who doesn’t love no judgment eating?! We could all use a little bit more this, don’t you think? 

Speaking of over indulgent eating, I’ve had some amazing free homemade meals! This was such a blessing during chemo weeks to not have to think about cooking or grocery shopping. Food just arrived at my house. Good food. Free food. Heaven on earth! 

Can you tell I love to eat? 

6 Found Purpose

Oddly enough it’s not the cancer that reveals your purpose, but the living. It’s the fact that I am living and thriving through it that causes me to question my exsistance and pay close attention to fulfilling my purpose. If you’re breathing, you have purpose and this fact brings peace to my soul. I have work to do, people to bless, joy to give, hope to send and gospel to spread. This is my purpose, my mission and I’m excited and honored to fulfill it. 

Thanks cancer for making it oh so clear. 

7 Naps

I love a good nap. Always have. I certainly have taken more naps in the past few months, not only because they’ve been needed but because it’s been easier to convince myself that it’s okay. Who cares if bills need to be paid, lesson plans need to be done or the dog hasn’t been fed all day!? You have cancer, take a guilt free nap and rest yourself! 

8 No hair. Don’t care. 

I have a long history of hating my hair (It’s a black woman, cultural, historical kind of hurt that I would love to discuss in a separate post.) and attempting to grow it to long lengths, so you can imagine the pain I had watching it fall out. Despite this aggravation I have found some amazing benefits to the bald life: 

* I haven’t bought shampoo or conditioner in months. 

* No need to shave! Yaaassss! 

* I’m jumping in this swimming pool care free! I don’t have to worry about getting my hair wet…because…bald! 

* I don’t have to do my hair in the morning, which means I get ready in 2 seconds (well, after I spend an hour drawing on my eyebrows). 

* It’s an awesome reason to shop for scarves and head wraps! (Like I need a reason to shop.)

* I’ve kept cool in this Texas heat! 

9 Period Free! 

You don’t realize how convient this truly is until it’s gone. What?! It’s hard for me to believe that I tolerated it for so long! Women, how are you doing it? You deserve a cookie. Always eat the damn cookie because…periods. 

I can’t wait until I get mine back though…because babies. 

10 Love Displayed 

I’ve never been so aware of how much God’s love is on display for me, until this journey. He shows us the love He has for us through all things- even cancer. It appeared in your text messages, cards, embrace, packages, listening ear, kind words, prayers, food deliveries, rides to the hospital, balloons, well wishes, shared laughter and margaritas. I’ve been so overwhelmed by this display of love- my heart is full and aches from rejoicing. He’s a good good Father. 

The Evolution of Why


One of our scholars has passed away from cancer just a few weeks ago. He was 16 years old. I instantly feel guilt. 
When I receive news of someone passing away because of cancer, it affects me entirely differently now that I have it. Each time I hear of someone dying because of cancer, it forces me to dive deep within myself and question my exsistance. Especially when it’s a child that has been taken far too soon. In this journey I frequently ask myself “Why me?” 
The meaning and root of that question has changed several times over the course of this journey, and I imagine will continue to transform and evolve until the day I’m heaven bound. My mind twirls around “Why?” frequently these days, taking on new meaning in each phase of this cancer journey. So far, my “whys” can be categorized into 4 stages:
1. Questioning Current Circumstances 

“Why me? Why did I have to get breast cancer?” 
2. Questioning Past Pain
“Why me? Why has my burden been my health? Why has it been relentlessly attacked my whole life?” 

3. Questioning Blessings: 
“Why me? Why has my journey been smoother than most? Why has this been “easy” in comparison to others whom I’ve gotten know along the way? My appetite is still intact (I’m gaining weight!), my energy is stable and I’ve been told time and time again, ‘You don’t look like you have cancer!'” 

4. Questioning My Unique Purpose: 
“Why me? Why do I get to live and they didn’t? Why have I been blessed with life? I’m not going to die. Why?”

I’m troubled that I don’t have the answer to that last question, yet incredibly greatful, honored and inspired by the fact that it’s mine to ask. It’s terrifying and humbling to know that the very thing that has ended someone’s life, is the very thing that’s brewing inside you. You realize that both you and the deceased have fought the exact same fight, possibly (and likely) equipped with the exact same weapons. I’m watching beautiful strong soldiers climb into the exact same wrestling ring that I’m to climb in and not returning. It feels like I’m carrying death with with me. Carrying it right in my breast. 
Which is why that last question is the question of most importance, the most transforming, the one to meditate and pray upon. Lord, why have I been allowed to not only live, but thrive? Have you ever thought to ask God “why?”, not when it comes to your misfortunes but as it pertains to your blessings? It’s human nature to be an expert at asking the first type of “why me?” question- we must fight these thoughts of pitty, self loathing and resentment sometimes daily. Why did my children have to be born with disabilities? Why did my parents have to get a divorce? Why did my spouse cheat on me? Why did I get rapped? Why did my mom die when I was 25? Why was I born into poverty? We ask these questions relentlessly, but rarely ask “Why did I come through it? Why did I get this far in my life? Why did I persevere? Why did I live?”. What is the purpose behind you surviving your trials? 
He has an answer. Because He’s sovereign. Because there’s no such thing as happenstance. Because it’s not by coincidence that I have breast cancer at 30 years old. Nor is by chance that you have lived through the hell you have gone through. Once you fully recognize and respect the fact that not everyone made it, you too will ask “why have I?”.
Why? 
This is by design. 
Some may say that I shouldn’t question it- that questioning God is wrong. The issue is not the questioning itself. In fact I urge you to forever be in pursuit of your “why” and to press into gratitude, thanksgiving and slefeshness in order to evolve your “why” from phase 1 to phase 4. Let your “why” grow from complaining to purposeful action. Afterall, you didn’t make it this far for nothing. I’m alive for a reason and it compels me to do something. I’m not certain of what that something is yet, but I know this: someone will be blessed and God will be glorified. 
Why, against all odds, are you still here and how does this fit into your unique purpose? 
I pray your “why” is forever evolving. 

I Can’t Be Rumpelstiltskined: Discovering My Femininity 

The woman sitting across from me has had both breast removed. 

She looks like a woman. 

I made the fortunate mistake of locking eyes with Mrs. Castillo in the waiting room of Dallas Methodist Hospital as we both drank the lemonade flavored barium required of our impending MRI scan. Once she locked eyes with mine she did not stop speaking for 60 minutes straight. In that time I learned more than I thought possible about her family, her medical history, Dallas in the 70s, and most impressively, me. The more she shared, the more I saw reflections of myself, my journey and my misconceptions about beauty, sexuality, femininity and womanhood. Misconceptions about myself. 

Mrs. Castillo shared with me that she has had her breasts removed some years ago. I quickly fact-check this by slowly lowering my gaze from her eyes to her chest. Well I’ll be damed, she’s sho nuff right! I’m oddly surprised that it wasn’t something I noticed earlier, something that wasn’t so blatantly and uncomfortably obvious to all of us in the waiting room! I mean surly we would all notice a women without breast! Right? A women…no breast! My reaction is nearly a reflection of my own fears and how I saw my own life after my doctor shared with me the possibility of having a mastectomy of my own- everyone would see me differently, I wouldn’t be recognized as a women, I wouldn’t be beautiful, I would look like Rumpelstiltskin. 

You remember Rumpelstilskin, that old, ugly, strange, little man who turned straw into gold in exchange for a child? That dude was not the fairest of them all and consequently gives my the creeps. It doesn’t help that he was so obsessed with wanting this woman’s child- you can’t just bully someone into giving you their baby! Crazy! Anywho, I digress…

The removal of Mrs. Castillo’s breast did not change the slenderness of her face, the softness of her eyes or ability to apply blush to her high cheek bones. Rose colored lip stick still adheres to her lips. Her corse grey hair still squeezes into a bun at the crown of her head. Hips still not lying. Mrs. Castillo knows that she is still sexy. This she did not tell me directly, but it’s written all over her. It’s in how she talks and walks; her confident demeanor and aura communicates that she has a knowledge of this truth: she is a beautiful woman. Cancer may have taken her breasts but it did not take her womanhood. She still makes fajitas. (Food is important to me. 1st Jesus, 2nd Family 3rd, Food. The fact that she still goes in on some fajitas proves to me that she is alright. The moment I stop eating, please locate a Bishop and some blessed oil.) 

 I must admit that I’m surprised by this. Rather I’m surprised by my reaction to all of this. What did I think happened to women who had mastectomies or similar traumas to parts of the body that determine sex? Did I really think I would turn into Rumpelstiltskin? A short, pruney, ugly, old, greedy, boobless, man with a complex? Clearly I needed to meditate on my idea and definition of femininity, womanhood and beauty. 

I cling tight to my pink bras and lace panties. Lipstick and occasional rouge makes me feel feminine and flirty. A dress with a peak-a-boo neckline that reveals a little cleavage is considered sassy, sexy and fun. It’s my “I’m a vibrant beautiful sophisticated woman” dress, which heavily relies on my breasts to communicate. I had no clue how loud my breasts where, and how much I depended on their vocals to communicate my beauty and confidence. How reliant have I been on my breast, makeup and flirty bras to make me feel like a woman? Now that the possibility of having my breast stripped away is on the table, I feel the need to define my femininity and beauty, to reassure myself that it can’t be be snatched away from me. I can’t be Rumpelstiletskined. I won’t be. 

Everything about Mrs. Castillo is feminine. I can see that so very plainly. Her femininity is intertwined with her very existence, unable to be separated from her essence by physical appearances, such as breast, hips and hair. I’m like her. My femininity and beauty is in my smile, sultry walk, attitude, gentleness, kindness, strength, passion and personality. It’s my flirtatious nature- how I bat my eyes when a man speaks nerdy to me. It’s in my affections, the gentle way I receive hugs and kisses. The careful, gleeful way I survey my naked body. It’s in my tone. It’s in the delicacy of my curves and the strength of my body. Above all it’s in my mind and my spirit. It’s in how I worship the Lord and spread the message of His love and kindness. 

My femininity is in my very character and being, and it can’t be stripped away. As it turns out I don’t but put on sexy- I AM sexy! My breast are not tokens of beauty, to be reserved for sex games! My husband and I (Lord bless him wherever he may be) will have sex! I’m beautiful, inside and out, and removal of my breast wouldn’t change anything about that. I will not be Rumpelstiletskined. 

Thanks. Mrs. Castillo. 

Im beautiful. 

My friend Taylor and I shortly after shaving my head. I felt beautiful alongside this doll.

I’m Perfect in Weakness

This chick is a hot mess. 

I had nothing left to give (note the febel attempt at a smile). I traditionally have proven to be an expert at keeping it together for y’all. There is no amount of piss poor attitude, depression, anxiety or hardship that a good foundation, lipstick and extra curriculars can’t mask. Mom dies: get new boyfriend, smile often, don’t cry, experiment with false lashes. Boyfriend abuses you: continue smiling, get hair done, party often, Instagram, buy blush. Diagnosed with breast cancer: wear pink stuff, send photos to family of you smiling wearing pink stuff, go to work the next day, don’t cry, wear eyeliner. As odd as it sounds, these tricks have worked for 30 years of life! Y’all buy into the charades, compliment my strength and my ego remains intact. You leave inspired, I leave with my pride- nobody’s hurt. Boom! *mic drop. 

But, nobody is healed either. 

My spirit wrestlers with this scripture lately: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christʼs power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We get to experience God’s omnipotence, His all encompassing power and ability to do anything, at our weakest moments. For we don’t recognize God’s power of deliverance until we are in the dark places that calls for it. Human nature doesn’t recognize help, unless there is a need. We don’t recognize solutions unless there is a problem. Therefore God’s power becomes undeniably clear when we are in the lowliest of places spiritually, mentally and physically. It is a power reserved for the imperfect, the messed up, the spiritually drained, the weak and the downcast, and therefore there is no one under the sun who doesn’t qualify for His power. 

It’s at this very moment, at my lowliest place, when God is about to unleash His healing power, do I reach for concealer. I’m ashamed at my weakness and must hide behind bronzer. You must leave my presence believing that everything is alright- no mess resides here. I believe this is true for many of us. 

Yet Paul says that he will boast about his weaknesses, speaking with pride and self assurance regarding his afflictions, because he is aware of the power that resides in the weakness and the mess. This is in stark contrast to what I attempt to do through Instagram filters and mascara. Boasting implies speaking and speaking requires vulnerability. Vulnerability. It sounds like a bad word. Like the word “moist”. I want to vomit. 

Yet, I believe this is what Paul may be calling us to, for we will not experience the full weight of God’s power resting on us until we are vulnerable enough to speak on our weakness’, admitting our fragility. “But vulnerability gives way to judgment, which leads to rejection! This I can’t take again!” Yet the testimony covers it! Your vulnerability in showcasing your weakness allows others to witness the glory and power that falls upon you, even to those that wrongfully judged you. You will grant them access into the journey and ultimately into the victory of your deliverance. In our vulnerability we must know that although our weakness may be judged and shamed, God’s power rests on it and on us. 

So when you share with me how craptastic your life is, I’m equally exposed to how God is moving and healing you, which allows me to grow and heal too! It blesses my soul to hear how our God delivered someone out of bondage, especially when we share the same chains! I’m grateful for the testimonies that reassure me of God’s power, grace, attentiveness and love. Over the past month, friends and strangers alike have shared with me their cancer diagnosis, chemo stories, IV and fertility journeys, and thoughts on strength and self love. These transparencies have blessed me beyond belief! This is where the the magic happens; this is the critical space of enlightenment- when I realize that I’m not alone in this large world, that I belong to a network of hurting souls, and that others have found coveted joy. To my friends, family, and village, to fleshly brothers and sisters, we must allow others to heal through our exposure. May we place our fears aside to become vulnerable enough to boast in the weakness’, allowing the power of God to reign over us.  

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your power which is made perfect in my imperfections (for there are many of them!). Help me to be vulnerable enough to boast and share my weakness and therefore my testimony with others, that you may be glorified. Amen. 

Fertility


I’m the only single person in his waiting room. 

There are two couples in the same room as I, one to my left the other to my right, both holding hands and whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ear. They could have been cussing each other out for all I know, but all I see is love and hope for a family, and all this perceived love blinds me to their pain temporarily. All I see is bliss. 

The fertility clinic’s website is plastered with photos of babies, families and flowers- all things specially designed to make you ovulate upon viewing. After laying 3 eggs, I scroll through the feed in disbelief that life has brought me to this place. I’m 30, single and contemplating having my eggs frozen because chemo may leave me infertile. Because cancer. 

This was a discussion and a journey I was suppose to have with my husband, and in some odd way I feel as though I’m steeling that from him, like I’m envisioning our children way too soon and inadvertently leaving him behind. It’s a carriage before the horse situation, and I feel forced into it. Robbed of the “natural” process. I realize that this may be a feeling that I should get use to, and perhaps embrace. 

While waiting between love birds in the waiting room, my mind swirls around the oddest thoughts: 

– I would never freeze my baby, so why is freezing my eggs okay? 

– Can you freeze chicken eggs? 

– I wonder who’s sperm will eventually fertilize these things? 

– I wonder if a doctor has ever dropped someone’s eggs on the ground. I’d be so pissed. 

– Is there an expiration date on eggs? God I hope it’s longer than what’s in my fridge ( which is currently spoiled I’m sure). 

– Can they accidentally squish an egg when harvesting them? Is so, could that produce a lumpy headed baby? I mean, I’d love him anyhow. 

I watch couples leave the waiting room to meet with doctors and find myself alone with my thoughts for a while. I use this time to dream, to hope, to pray. I vividly imagine having my own family- a husband, 3 girls and a dog. I’ve always had an unexplainable desire to have children, to have a full family, to be a wife and mother. I can get lost in these dreams for hours if I allow myself too. I do. 

It wasn’t until one of the couples who moments ago had looked so joyful, walked back into the waiting room in tears, was I pulled back into reality. It was then that I realized that this is simultaneously a place of hope and shattered dreams. Everyone is here because it didn’t work, something went wrong and there is a heart wrenching desire to fix it. Some leave in joyful anticipation of newborns, becoming parents and developing family. Others, like me, have their dreams deferred. I feel foolish for my envy and bitter thoughts towards them. They’re hurting as I am. 

The doctors prognosis is bleak- a combination of Sickle Cell Anemia and Cancer makes my chances of having children of my own small. The doctor forces me to think about fertility treatment, egg harvesting, sperm donors and surrogates- a conversation he starts within the 15 minutes I have with him, and doesn’t have the time to finish. As I’m processing all 245 of my options, I’m told that it’s somewhat of a moot point because I must wait 5 years after remission to have children (provided that I can). Five. Years. I quickly crunch the numbers in my head- I’ll be 36 before I can consider having children of my own. At this very moment in time, I give up. This was the icing to my crap cake. It is now abundantly clear that the narrative of my life isn’t and will never be described as normal, predictable, explanatory, “natural”, simple, “correct” or any other peaceful adjective. My life is quite the contrary: unpredictable, unrelenting and messy. At this moment I’m forced to drop any fantasy of life becoming simple and reconcile with these truths: you’re 30, single, living with your sister in an apartment, in the second year of your career, with breast cancer. It’s an odd and striking reminder that you didn’t fall in love with your college sweetheart, get married, buy the house, pet the dog, climb the career ladder, and have the beautiful children by the time you were 30. That didn’t happen. It won’t happen. 

It’s clear I’m like a unicorn- special and a little off. I make the decision to embrace this. 

Naturally not immediately. I left the clinic feeling destroyed. The labored conversation around my eggs, uterus and lack of sperm has left me disappointed and drained. All of the options the doctor presented to me isn’t for me. A viable option for someone but not for me. It’s hard for me to explain exactly why. I just know that my spirit is resolved to stop this fertility journey here, for now. So I cry. I cry from Dallas to Arlington where I find cute earrings to make me temporarily stop crying. They’re really cute so they get me to shut up for the rest of the day. 

The next day I make the decision to embrace my life in the package that it’s in, to fully be content with how my present came to be and how my future will unfold. It’s all trivial, compared to the life I know Christ has for me, the life I believe He is preparing me for. Because Jeremiah 29:11-12. Because what could man possibly say to me that would shake me loose from the goodness, grace, love and kindness of God? What diagnosis could snatch away hope rooted in Him? None. Because Jesus.

These two things remain true:

God is Good

God will receive the glory 

Cancer

Breast Cancer
The day you find out you have breast cancer, you go and get a pedicure. An expensive pedicure. You pick out the most fabulous shade of pink and request an orange scrub and parifin wax. Because… cancer. Because you’re 30. And because you purchased two extremely cute bras just yesterday, and the irony hasn’t escaped you. Neither has the massive cry headache you’ve developed from crying, or the sudden lack in appetite. You’re also sitting present with the guilt of dragging those who love you through the pain; you hate that people weep for you. 

You hate that you weep for yourself and have never wept for another survivor in your life. You’re ashamed for never seeing people as clearly as you do now, ashamed that it takes a diagnoses such as this to move you to earnest compassion. You’re appalled. 

You laugh a little. Because “What?” You can’t fully process the crazy that has just been spoken and it truly does seem ridiculous. Because 30. Because you already have Sickle Cell Anemia Disease and how many more chronic disease can you possibly acquire?! So, you laugh because what else are you going to do? There are no more tears and your eyes are slightly raw from wiping them. 

You tell your dog that you have cancer. He licks you in the mouth and looks away. You try again, this time providing him with more details, so that he may better understand and sympathize. You realize that you’re rehearsing just how you’re going to tell family, friends and loved ones. What’s the order of operations on news like the this? How much time should pass before you share? Surely someone has written a cancer etiquette book, a “how to tell family your boobs is failing” guidebook. You google it. 

You obsess over which shoes to wear tomorrow to show off your pink breast cancer toes, although you have no intentions on telling anyone! You want the reminder for yourself, a privet constant message of survival and strength. (You have the urge to paint every wall in your home pink. ) After all how will you tell people? Who will you tell? How much pity will be reserved for you and how much of it can you possibly take? You purchase breast cancer warned magnets, bandannas and temporary tattoos. Seems like a requirement to own them. 

The absurdity of it all surprisingly has you thankful to God. After all, when He does something of this magnitude, at this caliber of insanity, He clearly has a big amazing plan to match it. Nothing else makes sense. Nothing else rings truer than this fact: my life is about to be AWESOME. I’m destined for a life so blessed that it will be foolishly envied. Why? Because…cancer. Because James 1:2. 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭

Love Resides in the Sacrafice

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” –‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:8-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” –‭‭John‬ ‭21:17 

Love resides in the sacrifice. The very definition of love implies the requirement of suppressing my flesh, as it is a call to patience, kindness, contentedness, humility, selflessness, composure, forgiveness and endurance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Love is everything that I am not, therefore I must sacrifice who I am, stepping outside of myself, for the ability to do so. To love as He loves is to hardly know myself, a repeated crucifixion of my flesh, so that God’s love may be poured out of me. I mimic Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as it is the leading example of love, the ultimate showcase of affection. We learn from and replicate the master lover, who gave His very life as a sacrifice for our sins. 

Therefore the sacrificial giving is the cornerstone and building blocks of our love towards others. It commands that I frequently pause to ask myself “What sacrifices have you made in order to feed the sheep?”. Have you sacrificed your unforgiving heart so that this soul who hurt you may receive a warm embrace at their time of need? Have you set aside your impatient nature to allow an extended listening ear to a friend in sorrow? Have you sacrificed your precious time to tend to the needs of His children- needs both physical, emotional, mental and spiritual? (Are we built to carry the weight of the world? No! If we were, we wouldn’t have needed the crucifixion. But we are capable of the giving away of flesh and the loving of others.) What have I nailed to the cross for the sake of loving my brother?

When this love is complete in us, the world is allowed to see God in us, being an eyewitness to the sacrificial love of Christ in physical form.  The body of believers makes the intangible (and at times unrecognizable) need to be loved possible to grasp through our sacrificial giving. It’s God’s gifts, miracles, answered prayers, compassion and heart manifested in the physical on earth. God shows His great love through the heart of a sacrificial giver, a soul that will lay down their own desires to fulfill their Father’s business of feeding the sheep. This is how our love is proven: we sacrifice our flesh to feed His people, allowing the world to come face-to -face with the heart of Jesus that’s in us.

Imagine how this witnessing of God’s love would transform the unbeliever! It’s an encounter with God that is truly transformative in the life of man. The moment when heaven kisses earth, displaying the love the Father posses for His children. Your willingness to love, sacrificing your flesh for the feeding of the flock, has the power to change lives. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love sacrifice on the cross that enables and shows me how to love others. Help me to love as you love, to sacrifice as you sacrifice, for the feeding of your sheep. In Jesus’ name, Amen.