November 13th, 2018. It will be added to the list of dates that I will remember forever.
November 13th, 2018 my life stopped and then changed in an instant. When the words, “It’s cancer” came out of my moms mouth my heart stopped. I had this gut sinking feeling for days that those were the words I was going to hear, but I was praying that I would be wrong. One of the few times you pray to be wrong.
I feel like I am living someone else’s life, although I would never wish cancer to come to any family. It doesn’t seem real. But watching my mom be in severe pain, seeing her energy be nil and seeing her transform into someone I don’t recognize because of those things; makes it all too real.
I have to keep myself busy or the why’s begin to play like a broken record. I won’t even list them or I will go down the dark hole. At work I keep myself so busy that when I get home I can’t even think straight. At home, I keep myself just as busy or try to put on a show that will keep me from thinking. There is too much pointing at the bad that it’s hard for me too think positively. I used to process people’s medical records that suffered from cancer. I know certain things now that most lay-people don’t. So, I try to keep from thinking about the real facts in front of us.
The doctors want to do surgery. Dad says, they don’t have “death” written on their face. Praying that it stays that way. But they still aren’t saying much. I want to know if they are going to do full body scans, but there is no indication they are. But, this is the second time she’s been diagnosed with cancer, shouldn’t they do a more thorough look?
I pray. I pray. And I pray some more. Tonight was the first time I have picked up my Bible since I found out. Tonights the first time, since I found out, that I’ve had a “quiet time”. I’ve been afraid. I had finally gotten into this sweet-spot with God. Where, even though it’s been messy I feel like I’ve found the real him in my life. It’s been like the buddings of a new relationship. Awkward, messy, sweet, vulnerable but oh so real.
I was afraid. I was afraid of picking up the Bible and Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts, because I didn’t want it to shatter what I’ve got with God right now. I was afraid that if I dug in again that I would get angry all over again. Angry like I was when I was dealing with all of my health stuff. Angry that cancer has entered my mother’s body, for the second time in her life, and why is he allowing this to happen not once but twice!? See, there is the beginning of the rabbit hole of why’s. But, instead I don’t get angry, at least not the same kind of angry. Why? Because instead of anger there is peace. What the… Peace? How is there peace in the midst of this storm?
Just before all of this came about I read through all four of the gospels. I spent about a month going through them all. And now I am seeing Bible stories come to life, in my life. I have always struggled with reading the Bible. In fact, as I was reading all four gospels last month I did get angry. I was angry because it all just felt like rules and a “how to do life” book, not the love letter that everyone says it is. But now, now I am seeing God use those stories in my life. Stories I have heard countless times throughout my twenty-seven years. I am now understanding them.
Jesus, Jesus died on the cross. We all know that. It’s like christian 101. But as I was in worship at church, the weekend after we found out mom had cancer, God showed me something in Jesus’ death. Maybe everyone else has been able to see it but I hadn’t until that moment. Jesus died. Jesus suffered. Jesus saved us. But before all of that he questioned. Jesus questioned the Father. What? Jesus questioned God’s plan for him… let that just sink in.
Jesus, the son of God, the one who knew his purpose, even he questioned God’s plan. And then he suffered, he paid the ultimate sacrifice and brought about the fullness of joy for him, the father and us. And during that whole process people kept telling Jesus, “if you really are the son of God why don’t you save yourself?” But he doesn’t, because if he didn’t we wouldn’t have received our salvation. But, he could have… He could have.
I’m in worship and I see all that and start relating it to my families situation. My mom has cancer and only God knows why and I hate that I don’t know why and I want to ask God why and can he please take it from her. And I know he can. I know that in a snap of his finger he could take the cancer from my mom’s body and it would be a glorious miracle. But he hasn’t yet. And we want to continue to ask why. But I don’t know his plan. We don’t know his plan. I know God didn’t give my mom cancer, just like God didn’t kill Jesus, but he did let those things come to pass. Why? Well for Jesus it was to save man-kind. For my mom, well that is still a mystery. And I could be very angry about that because it feels like this cruel game that God is playing. I mean, he could take away the pain and suffering of my mom but he hasn’t. Why? What is the purpose? I want to get mad but I can’t. I can’t because for the first time in my life my soul gets it. It get’s this whole crazy, I don’t understand, suffering thing. My person doesn’t understand it at all, but my soul does and so I have this unwavering peace that I can’t explain.
I have cried, a ton, during this whole thing. I can’t stand to see my mom in all this pain, I can’t stand the thought of possibly losing her if all of this goes south, I can’t stand watching her change, I can’t stand seeing her so upset, I can’t stand the thought of her having to fight for her life. I can’t stand any of this. So, I cry but I have peace. A peace I can’t explain and that I want to be mad at sometimes. But, it’s there and I don’t want it to go away. And I pray with every ounce of hope I have in my being that she will come out of this healthy, whole and healed.
Life is precious and it can change in an instant. It can change in a single moment, by an action or a word or a thought. Don’t take it for granted and fight for the peace of knowing that God is there no matter what, even when the storm looks like it’s going to take you out. Daily I am calling out to him and asking him to calm the storm, because right now I can’t. I can’t do this without him because if I even try I will fail and go down that dark hole. I don’t understand it but my soul does, it trusts in him so I will trust in him and pray and hope that all is well.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out, for all the prayers, for the letters to mom. Thank you for loving, caring and being there. My family is forever grateful. Keep praying.