“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove from your body a heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.
Recently I was told that my blood tests show no cancer. “You are in currently in remission!” my doctor said. I will still need monthly chemotherapy. The current chemo will stop working and the doctor will need to find another chemo cocktail that does not contain the Revlimid which scrambled my brain for months and caused fall after fall.
When I told this news to a friend, she said, “Well, my prayers and yours have been answered.” I had to admit that I have never prayed that I will be healed from cancer (or diabetes or cellulitis – which have also been my companions). I have only prayed that I will maintain a spirit of hope and gratitude and continue to be “blessed to be a blessing”
So when I came across the verse from Ezekiel 36 which appears at the start of this blog, it occurred to me that this is the promise God is fulfilling in my life: that I will have a new heart and a new spirit in the face of my eight-year battle with blood cancer and after the death of my husband nearly two years ago.
This “new heart” allows me to be at peace during this time of lost independence as well as the loss of balance and strength. This “new spirit” brings me confidence in God’s presence and God’s promises as the world around me (and all of us) becomes increasingly precar- ious.
A friend recently commented on my “amazing attitude.” I was surprised by his words because there have been so many occasions in my nearly 80 years when my attitude has been horrible; I have spent many dark nights asking God for forgiveness. I told my friend that my attitude began improving as I sat in Alanon circles learning about “letting go” and when I “met” Ignatius of Loyola and his teachings about relinquishing. The work of Dallas Willard and James Bryan Smith led me to teach the Apprentice program which introduced me (and my church) to the concept of “spiritual formation” which changed my life forever.
These experiences are a few of the ways that God gave me a “new heart” and a “new spirit.” I continue to be open to learning more in the time I have left. And I continue to be grateful to God for exchanging my “heart of stone” for a “heart of flesh.”