Monday, November 21, 2011

Charmed Life

Have you ever thought something for a long time but it wasn't until someone else said it that you thought, "Yes, that is exactly how I feel!!"  That happened to me today and thanks to Jennifer Gribble, it is now a blog post.  :)

Jennifer and I met in college, she - the wise, intelligent lady to my vapid, self-absorbed girlishness.  I learned a lot from how she conducted herself.  I wish I'd taken more of those lessons to heart, but I'm glad to have reconnected with her.  Her faith, her family, her heart have always been precious and I'm glad I get to see it again.

Jen's father is just beginning his battle with cancer, today being the day the family finds out what will be involved with his treatment protocol.  That's a nervous, scary day.  Everybody knows treatment for cancer (adult or pediatric) sucks, so you are just biting your nails to find out what your regimen will look like (or in other words, how bad it will suck for you.)  You want to know that at the end of the line, the results will be no more cancer.  But no doctor will give you 100% odds of being cured, the best odds we ever got were 98%, but that wasn't from our primary oncologist.  Always a margin for error in oncology.

I commented on Jen's Facebook link to her father's carepages website and she responded back with this:
I've led a charmed life full of peaks...not much practice with these valleys. :(  Thanks for your prayers and support. I now know that there's a reason why I read your blog daily throughout your journey. I hope it helps prepare me in some way for ours.
I know a few people who would claim they have had a difficult life.  I know even fewer who could actually prove it.  When I look at my circle of family and friends, most of us, have lived a considerably good life.  Doesn't mean we have been exempt from challenges or growing pains, but in the overall scheme of things - we are healthy, wealthy and relatively wise to the fact that we don't have it very hard.

I often felt, before Sophia's diagnosis, that life was a little too good to be true.  I wasn't a fatalist, but I suspected that my testimony, as a Christian witness, was pretty shallow.  And I was fine with that.  I remember many a mental conversation regarding God being able to use anyone - including a nondescript, middle-class, stay-at-home-Mom who hadn't been through too much.

I believe you don't have to have a major issue in your life to be a valuable Christian witness.  Most people do not go through what we went through and I'm so thankful for that.  I'm not saying we were picked special to suffer, because I think all Christians should count on the fact that if you are serious about following Christ - some heat is going to come your way, in varying levels at variable times.

But I do take comfort in knowing that God allowed this season of trial.  He knew I couldn't handle it, even though I was so good at handling most everything without Him.  He blessed me with this suffering because it created, not only a different path for my life, but also a renewed heart for others.  It gave me an empathy, a truth I would not have otherwise.  

It brought me closer to God the way nothing else could.

That doesn't make me more holy or more pious or better at being a Christian.

But has made me a better person.

This journey through Sophia's cancer crystallized my need for God. When spend time away, I become desperate for Him. Like the watchman needs daybreak so he can rest. Like the deer needs water so it can survive. I need more and more and more of Him - or I'll just mess it all up again.

That is no different than my charmed life before cancer broke down the door. I knew I needed Him then too. But He allowed Sophia's cancer for many reasons - most specifically so He could expand the pocket of my heart where He put His love. It's bigger now - I need more of Him to fill it. That's what suffering has taught me.

I still wish it had been me, not Sophia. And without cancer, I wouldn't have the worries or fears I do now. On the other hand, I wouldn't have known His ever-growing reservoir of love, peace, joy and contentment. Given that choice, I guess I won't go back.
So, here's my message to Jen:
It's ok to feel like you lost something when your Dad got cancer. It doesn't change that you did have a wonderful life and it is going to be a harder road for awhile. But thankfully, cancer or chemo or anything else does not have the last word. I pray your whole family will be able to look back on your Dad's journey and say it was for the best because the pocket of God's love in your hearts is bigger now.

When God gives you more love, you find you see the world in ways you never could have before. This is only the first step in the next part of your journey, just keep the faith. Put your hope in Him and Him alone and see how He comes through for you. 
For let us not grow weary in doing good, for AT THE RIGHT TIME, we will reap a harvest!!!


Gindi said...

Such a true statement, and a reminder for us to daily be grateful that we live in a place where God has given us such bounty, and to continue our prayers for authenticity in our witness.

Shelley B, Follower of Christ said...

Those trials sure do teach us, mold us and grow us closer to Him don't they? It's hard to see that completely when you are in them, but thanks be to Him for His grace and mercy to see us through. He said He'd never leave us nor forsake us. It's amazing how these trials help us see our lack and where we need improvement as well as encourage us to trust Him. ALL things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose!