The world is in a crisis right now and it’s during these challenging times that we should look up and fix our eyes on the Lord. Not only do trials and tribulations test our faith but they draw us closer to Him.
Five years have passed since appearing on Brendan O’Connor’s “The Saturday Night Show” (RTE 1) and I would like to share the lead up to it to show how God helped me during that difficult time and how we are meant to experience hardships in our life. Whenever I think of that interview, it stirs up a mixture of excitement and sadness. It is one of my highlights, yet it was also the most heart wrenching and soul destroying time of my life.
You see, during this time I was being bullied, harassed and suffering from cancer discrimination at my workplace while I was undergoing chemo treatment and right up until my operation. Even though I was working full time at this point, I was not welcome where I worked anymore and my boss was trying to remove me through all different means you could think of. Every few days there was a new tactic. Humiliating me in front of my peers, banning me from the workplace, removing me when I came back after a hospital appointment, penalising my pay, changing my title, criticising my work, sending me horrible emails, the list goes on. It lasted 7 excruciating long weeks. As I walked to work in the morning, tears streamed down my face dreading what new trap lied behind those doors for me each day.
My heart and chest regularly squeezed me telling me my body could not take any more of the physical stress brought on by the harassment and bullying, but I persevered through it. I just needed to get to my operation date, 20th April. It is not normal to look forward to a double mastectomy, but I saw it an escape from their claws for at least a few weeks. How they treated me was so bad that it was a welcomed relief to be physically cut open, than mentally sliced open every day as their campaign against me became a form of mental torture. My battle was never with cancer; my battle was with my workplace.
I could understand God’s plan for me with cancer, but I couldn’t make sense of why my workplace were trying to tear me apart. But I just trusted in God. I didn’t need to understand His plan for me, just trust in it. When I prayed, I didn’t ask Him to make them stop. I asked that if this is His will, to just give me the strength to endure it. And He did. Like that story of the frog in that barrel of milk, furiously paddling his legs until it turned to cream, I felt like that frog as I was drowning in my physical stress and I furiously battled to keep my head above water. I kept my eyes fixed upwards on the Lord, as He lifted my chin up with His hand, just enough for me to gasp for air. He helped me to survive it, but I had to do the hard work myself.
He placed goal posts along the way to guide me through it. On 1st April, after I had completed my last chemo session, I got a call from “The Saturday Night Show” in Ireland inviting me to appear on 11th April! My flights and hotel paid for also. Overjoyed I phoned my family and best friend Kirby to share this exciting news. I was ecstatic!
God had thrown me yet another life buoy, something for me to hang onto, keep me afloat and to look towards. At home, when the news sunk in I began to fret: “Live TV? LIVE TV?!! What have I done? How am I going this??”. The calming voice of the Holy Spirit spoke within me “Don’t worry, I’ll be there with you, I’ll come and help you”.
I had an idea of the questions he was going to ask me but there was no rehearsal – it’s called Live for a reason! My family and friends told me “Just be you!” which was sweet and reassuring.
My teenage nephews and nieces accompanied me in the Green Room beforehand which got me in a great state of mind as I am my usual fun bubbly self with them. I decided not to look at the TV screen on the wall as I didn’t want to compare myself to any other guests before me. I was offered alcohol but I declined as I wanted my temple to be pure for the Holy Spirit to help me as He had promised.
Then I was called. As I walked down the corridors, in the pit of my stomach a small whirlpool of anxious emotions started stirring but I shooed them away, knowing that God would come any second now and help me. Standing behind the red curtain, waiting to go on, I opened up my hands and faced my palms upwards. I closed my eyes and I softly uttered these words:
“Holy Spirit, come into me. Make me wise, and make me funny”.
In that instant, I felt a wave come down from above me and go down through my body and my whole body relaxed. I was restored with confidence and boldness. Utterly at peace, I opened my eyes smiling. I turned to the lady that had accompanied me and we exchanged some quiet chit-chat. She looked at me curiously:
“May I ask?” she whispered “Have you done Live TV before?”
“No” I replied. “This is my first time”.
Her face turned to me stunned “Really? But you don’t seem nervous at all”.
“Sure, it’s just having a chat, isn’t it?”. I said casually.
“Hmmmm actually you’re right, that’s how people should see it. It is just having a chat” she pondered.
And chat we did! It was lovely talking and meeting the warm and easy-going host Brendan. A fellow Corkonian himself, he made me feel at ease straight away and let me say what I had to say. At the beginning of the interview, I felt myself stumble over a few words a little bit, but I knew to just settle in, relax and let the Holy Spirit take over. My words began to come out like liquid, my thoughts formed effortlessly before the question had even been fully asked. (watch interview above or here)
Afterwards, I was blown away by all the emails and messages of support that poured in and my social media was hopping. So many people contacted me talking about their own faith and others who struggled to believe were asking me questions. I felt so honoured that I had planted seeds of faith in their hearts and it opened the door to me helping and supporting them on their own spiritual path. In my prayers, I had always asked God to make me an instrument for Him and now, He here He was, playing His song on me.
The high didn’t last long, though. I flew back to London, back to work on Monday and being my last week of work before my op, the harassment intensified. As if on purpose. So much so that I couldn’t even finish my last working day that Friday. I had to leave at 10.20am, uncontrollably shaking and sobbing after having received yet more horrible emails – some of which had been sent to me at 1.00am in the morning and another long one with very hurtful words at 9.42am. My body and heart just couldn’t physically take the cruelty and inhumanity anymore. They had broken me.
I never set foot in that place again. (what happened after is here).
In the 5 years since, I’ve watched this video every now and then to remind myself of the closeness I felt to God. As my aunt pointed out, it was caught at the perfect moment and she’s right. It’s worth so much to me now that I’m able go back and see how I was at that phase of my life. At times, I oddly feel jealous towards myself at that time, as I long to feel that closeness again to the Lord. It’s strange how while I was physically and emotionally hurting the most, I felt the most joy in my spirit, as God’s constant Hand on my shoulder and His overwhelming loving presence made the suffering worth it. As I said in the interview, “When God’s in your presence, it’s hard not to be happy”. I often reminisce about the feeling of oneness I had with Him throughout my cancer journey. I felt connected to Him through my pain.
Our road is not meant to be easy, pain is part and parcel of Life. Life, and being a Christian, is about trials and tribulations. It is what tests our faith and we should embrace them knowing it is strengthening our relationship with our Creator. Suffering and hard times refines us and sculptures us spiritually. When you are in the pits of despair, that’s when you feel that Spiritual Support the most and when God is at His closest to you. His presence doesn’t eliminate your pain or your challenge, however, you still have to do the hard work, but He gives you the strength to endure it. Whenever you feel you are going under, reach out your hand and He will pull you up and keep you afloat. Sometimes at the very last moment, when you need it most.
“..we also glory in our tribulations, because we know that tribulations produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
You might also like to read:
Saturday Night Fever! (blog post written soon after interview)