Kara Tippetts was a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a Christian. Her life seemed normal (or she would say mundane) until she got the unfortunate diagnosis of breast cancer – a cancer which would ultimately take her life on March 22, 2015.
When I think about my own ovarian cancer journey, I first thank the Lord for His protection over my body, for the doctors’ ability to find and remove it quickly, and that I sit here today writing this blog free of cancer and a clear prognosis for my future.
Kara, however, walked a much more difficult road that would have thoroughly tested my attitude, my emotions, my relationships, and my faith. Watching the way she navigated the pain, the grief, the struggles, and the pain reminds me of how we should live our lives — regardless of the status of our health.
On her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, Kara Tippetts captured how she was “looking for God’s Grace to show up even in the hardest, messiest, ugliest places.”
9 Tips on Intentional Living from the Life of Kara Tippetts:
1. God provides strength when we need it most.
“I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus—and He will provide.” Kara physically lost her strength due to the cancer treatments and the physical toll the cancer took on her body; however, the spiritual and emotional strength required to get through such a trial could only be sustained through Christ.
Kara looked to Jesus in her darkest moments and asked Him to get her through the journey. When you are faced with trials and challenges, where do you try and draw your strength from? Don’t look only to your own abilities and strengths to get you through the tough stuff.
2. Trust in God.
This is easier said than done. It’s easy to say I trust in God, but when the rubber meets the road I have examine my heart and ask if I am really relinquishing my own control over a situation.
Kara knew that her response to God, as she fought against breast cancer, would determine how the rest of her life would be experienced. She “believed that cancer was not the point, but Jesus was.” Her trust in Jesus and her faith allowed her to follow Him even as she faced the reality of death.
3. Suffering has a purpose.
No one enjoys suffering. It’s painful. It’s difficult. And it’s just not fun. Suffering, however, does have a purpose…and it’s not for God to play games with us. Kara believed suffering was “an opportunity to understand God’s love on a deeper level.”
When faced with a time of suffering or trial, examine your heart and instead of asking “why is this happening to me?” in a resentful tone, ask the question from a learner’s perspective and ask what you can gain from the experience…how you can grow. They say hind-sight is 20/20, and many times you can see the purpose behind the trials AFTER they occur; however, I challenge you to be proactive and examine how the Lord is using your times of trials to draw you closer to Him and develop your faith in a profound way.
4. Live well and love others with intentionality.
Once she knew death was coming “Kara fought harder than ever to live well and love others well and with intentionality.” When your days are numbered, you want to make every moment last and make every moment special. Why don’t we live this way in our day-to-day lives regardless?
Be intentional with your relationships. Intentionally spend time with your family at the expense of other things like your work, chores, or personal desires. Don’t let it be the reverse. (Andy Stanley wrote a great book on this formerly called Choosing to Cheat, which brings out this idea of making sacrifices in other areas so that you don’t cheat out on time with your family.)
5. Your response to adversity matters.
Next time you are faced with a difficult situation monitor your reaction. You are in control of your actions and behavior, and you determine the outcome of a situation by how you deal with it.
Kara could have thrown in the towel, stopped impacting lives, and wallowed in self-pity over her failing health, but she decided to use it for God’s glory and look at receiving grace and love — not a death sentence.
Also, remember that others are watching. Your responses to trials and challenges can serve as a witness of your faith to others around you.
6. Don’t let fear paralyze you.
As you come across situations that leave you in fear, allow God to strengthen you and challenge yourself to keep moving forward rather than retreat. It could have been easy for Kara Tippetts’ fear of death keep her from speaking into the lives of others, but instead she chose to explore her fears — acknowledging aspects of death, writing about her fears, and remembering her ultimate security of going to heaven.
7. Life doesn’t always go as planned.
I’m sure cancer wasn’t one of those things that Kara Tippetts planned on happening in her life. For us, infertility and cancer were two of the farthest things we expected to face in our first 5 years of marriage. Nevertheless, we found ourselves facing two big medical challenges that we felt ill-equipped to face.
Life doesn’t always go as planned…well, not as we plan it. God gives us trials in life to challenge our faith, develop our character, strengthen our relationship with Him, and provide experiences to ultimately make us more compassionate people.
8. Resist Bitterness.
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t keep myself in check bitterness can rear it’s evil head at a minute’s notice. Explaining about the content of her book, The Hardest Peace, Kara wrote:
In the brokenness of our unmet expectations of life, will we look for Jesus and His abundant love? Or will we tumble into bitterness and anger [emphasis mine] that leaves us utterly self-focused and disappointed by the hard in our story each of us are asked to receive?
This is a fantastic question to ask, as we can become so bitter about a situation that it begins to taint other aspects of our lives…including relationships with our family and our God.
9. Tell Your Story.
Every one has a story to tell. No matter how mundane, exciting, challenging, extraordinary, or just ordinary your life is. God is writing a storyline for you each and every day. Kara Tippetts wrote the story of her journey with cancer. She didn’t sugarcoat it or act like it wasn’t difficult, but ultimately she knew that God was the center and her story was actually God’s story — a story of His grace, compassion, love, and strength for her during her fight with cancer.
As my husband and I share our story of infertility or/and cancer, other individuals are impacted. Other couples have been impacted. And it comes down to God’s faithfulness through the trials, and how we have seen His provision and see Him answered. We didn’t always have the answers we wanted at the time, but God showed up and God made His presence evident. Don’t neglect telling your story. It can impact those around you in ways you never imagined.
As you face your own personal, health, relational or spiritual challenges ahead of you, ask yourself: “will [you] look for Jesus and His abundant love? Or will [you] tumble into bitterness and anger that leaves [you] utterly self-focused and disappointed…?
Maybe you aren’t dealing with cancer or an imminent encounter with death, but will you look to Christ or will you wallow in self-pity and withhold yourself from experiencing the joy and satisfaction that Christ offers?
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