Until I was 16, I was ‘normal’. I enjoyed sport, music, school, and was a fairly high achiever. That all came crashing down when, aged 16, a doctor said to me, ‘you have two (non-malignant) brain tumours, which are so big they’re about to kill you.’
I’m so delighted to host Emily Owen here on the blog today. It’s Publication Day for Emily’s new book The Power of Seven – which, as she tells us below, is nothing to do with maths! Emily’s story resonates so much for me because of her journey with a physical illness which has significantly impacted her life. I asked her a few questions…
Tell me about your new book…
It’s called The Power of Seven. If that immediately takes you back to bad memories of maths lessons at school, don’t panic – the maths ends with the title! It’s a devotional book which weaves together personal stories, meditations, bible verses, and prayers. The ‘seven’ comes from the fact that there are groups of sevens in the bible – creation, Revelation churches, and more in-between. What can we learn from them? How will they empower us in our walk with God?
What experiences in your life have contributed to your book?
Until I was 16, I was ‘normal’. I enjoyed sport, music, school, and was a fairly high achiever. That all came crashing down when, aged 16, a doctor said to me, ‘you have two (non-malignant) brain tumours, which are so big they’re about to kill you.’ The brain tumour removals left me completely deaf. I’ve had more surgeries than I can count, with varying severity in side-effects; these tumours grow on nerves anywhere in the body, and mine seem keen on growing. I’ve spent time in Intensive Care. The doctors have told my family I won’t make it.
So, in some ways, like the apostle Paul in Philippians, I know what it is to have plenty, and I know what the opposite is, too.
I also know what it is to have God in my life, through all the ups and downs, good times and bad.
I’ve written other devotional books, which don’t mention me, and I’ve written my memoir, Still Emily, which does – obviously – mention me, but The Power of Seven is my first book which so overtly combines stories from my own life with devotional material.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’m just trying to decide whether my younger self would have listened! I think I would advise myself that things do get better. That may sound strange, given the way my life panned out. But as a child, though I enjoyed much of school, I was shy and was bullied a bit and never really fitted in. Certainly not with the ’cool’ crowd.
I’m tempted to say that I’d advise my younger self to know that going to university is not the be all and end all. I’ve not got a degree, though my younger self was always aiming in that direction. But, the lesson I learned when I realised that I am more than what I ‘achieve’ was so great that, actually, I don’t think I’d change that.
How do you square a loving God with the suffering you have gone through? (Just a nice uncomplicated one there to end)
If God is love – and I believe He is – why should I let my circumstances affect his ability to love? He’s bigger than that. His love is bigger than that. I don’t think it’s fair for me to say, do it my way and I’ll believe you love me, but lead me on a path I don’t like and I will know that you don’t love me. I mean, how would that make sense? God is God, I am not; how can I even begin to dictate to Him.
If God is love, why should I let my circumstances affect his ability to love? His love is bigger than that. @EmilyOwenAuthor answers questions about her book on the publication day of #ThePowerOfSeven! @authenticmedia Click To Tweet
I have asked ‘why me’? For about a millisecond. Because, why not me?
For whatever reason, this is the life I have. I remember once, the night after I’d received news that I needed another operation, lying in bed and crying. I said to God; ‘I hate this’. He said; ‘I do, too.’ And, in that place I’d never wish on anyone, God cried with me. He was right there. He always is.
For whatever reason, I live this life. And yes, it is hard: more so at some times than others.
For whatever reason, God has to watch me – his child – live this life. Watching someone you love suffer is hard. And God puts Himself through that. I don’t know why. But I do trust Him. And one day He will wipe all tears from my eyes (see Revelation).
Ultimately, I have a choice. Would I rather go through this with God, or without Him? I choose with Him.
Thank you so much Emily for your honesty and hopeful words. I can’t wait to read the book!
Emily lives in Leicester. Some of the things she splits her time between are writing, speaking, hospital appointments, and being wrapped around the little fingers of her nieces/nephews/godchildren. The Power of Seven is – coincidentally – her seventh book! Buy it here on amazon.