Kindness is defined as being warmhearted, sympathetic, having an inclination to do kind and charitable acts. When you talk to Marilyn Mansi, you can’t help but notice a heart brimming with kindness and compassion. There is an empathy for and desire to help and encourage others that flows out of her no matter what she is going through herself. For the last five years, her challenge has been cancer. She has battled the disease with grace and courage, still exuding kindness every step of the way.
When asked how the initial diagnosis impacted her, Marilyn says it was a total shock. She had always been healthy and hadn’t been experiencing symptoms – yet the disease was found to be all over her body.
Marilyn recalls vividly one night in those early days after the diagnosis, when fear completely overcame her. Marilyn and her husband, Ernie, were on their knees, and Ernie prayed powerfully over his wife. The overwhelming fear was replaced with an overwhelming sense of God’s presence and peace. Though there have been fearful moments in the months and years that have followed, Marilyn has never felt that debilitating fear again. She has seen God’s hand through the entire journey and champions His goodness at every turn. But, that’s not merely because of one interaction with her Heavenly Father on her bedroom floor.
Having accepted Jesus as her personal Savior years before, Marilyn knew how important it was to spend time praising God and being in His Word, especially when discouragement vies for her attention. So, she began to continually listen to worship music and poured over Scripture, reading one to two hours a day. Filling her mind with worship and truth helped her through the worst times of pain and suffering. Just one of the many passages that encouraged her is found in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Over and over, Marilyn has been able to focus on the reality that her troubles are temporary and are achieving something eternal that far outweighs the present pain.
Another practice that has helped Marilyn to move victoriously through this long season is by keeping a miracle journal. In it, she has recorded instances over the years when she has seen God miraculously touch her in personal and powerful ways. She says, “Everyone has times when they wonder if God loves them or even if He exists.” She says that when she is down, she will pick up the journal and read about what God has already done in her life. It reminds her in the darkest times that God is real, that He is with her and He loves her.
When asked how she is able to be so kind when she herself is going through such adversity, she first says, “Well, I’m not always kind to Ernie! But, I guess what helps is that I apologize quickly.” When she was young, Marilyn learned about the value of walking in the Spirit in order to bear His fruit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…” She said through the ministry of Campus Crusade she learned that if you don’t apologize when you are unkind, you are no longer walking in cooperation with the Spirit; God is no longer on the throne, so the spiritual fruit disappears. That revelation changed her life.
Another thing that helps her to be kind when the pressures of life squeeze her human spirit, is by having mercy for people. She says that God has gifted her with an ability to feel for people and relate to what they might be going through. Consequently, she feels compelled to be kind. Mercy is a spiritual gift, but it is also something that we are able to exhibit as we spend time with the One who is mercy.
Marilyn is incredibly grateful for all the ways God’s hand can be seen through her long battle with cancer. Amazingly, all the initial cancer throughout her body was gone for a while. It then returned, was treated and disappeared from scans for a year and a half. It has since reappeared for a third time and is considered “incurable.” She is currently participating in a study through the City of Hope, being one of the few people with an exact match for what they are researching. So far, what is being done has slowed the growth of this latest cancer.
Even though she continues to fight against this terrible disease, Marilyn persists in proclaiming that “God is so good!” She is deeply thankful for the prayers and support of her family, her church and so many others who have encouraged her these last five years.
And as if any more evidence was needed that Marilyn’s close connection with Jesus produces a steady stream of kindness, throughout the interview for this story, she kept asking this interviewer, “How are you doing? How is your family?” and peppering the conversation with compliments and encouragement.