When you have cancer or are facing any number of frightening, threatening, tragic or devastating circumstances, it shakes you. Why?
Of course you can’t outrun cancer. But running while you’re attempting to kick the crap out of cancer is an interesting challenge. I’ve decided to sign up for the Pittsburgh Marathon’s 5k. This race takes place at the beginning of May. My treatments end in the middle of April. So, I have to train now. While getting chemo.
Yesterday, a group of people did something thoughtful, kind and sacrificially generous. I was floored. Later, I thought about how it made me feel. Like, specifically.
It made me feel like I matter. A lot.
Feeling like you matter is such a fundamental need. Feeling like your existence makes a difference. That you are loved. Thought of. Prayed for. Over and over, through cards and texts and scarves and shoes and flowers and food and snuggies and everything, I feel like the world is whispering to me over and over and over that I matter.
It is such a galvanizing, strength giving feeling. When you have cancer, there are moments where you feel like you’re at the bottom of a well and someone is putting a heavy lid on the opening. My moments like that are mercifully fleeting because people constantly remind me I’m not alone. That well isn’t real. And even if it was, there would be a hundred people tossing ropes down and another hundred who had just said “oh screw it” and jumped down, too. Just so I wouldn’t be alone.
People I’ve never met are praying for me. Sending me deeply thoughtful gifts. And the people I know well…you guys just pour out the love. In word and deed. And the really really really close people…it’s a wonder you put up with me, let alone lay aside your needs and wants and priorities to serve me and meet my needs. Over and over.
And then I think about how I matter to God. I matter to The Lord. The Great I Am. The Prince of Peace. Alpha. Omega. Christ. The One who made everything…created you and me and lightning bugs. I matter to Him. And so do you.
I read recently that God is my biggest fan. Like…someone else was in awe that God was their biggest fan. And I thought “can this be true?” I mean, he sees the grumpy, undisciplined, unpolished, selfish, uncertain, irritable parts of me. He knows it all…and he could still somehow be delighted with me? Well He can. Because of Jesus. I don’t know exactly how it all works. Like if He can’t even notice the bad stuff because my righteousness (through Christ) is so glorious. Or if He sees it all plain as day but it’s instantly forgiven. I mean, He knows everything and sees everything. You know what…true theologian I am not. I’ll leave it to smarter people to try to explain the whole deal with the biblical principles of forgiveness, justification and propitiation. (Nerd alert.)
The point is just that I’m freaking amazed that people love me like they do. So I’m kind of astounded that God could possibly even like me. Let alone love me. Let alone leave the rest of the flock to go find me…the dumb sheep who wandered off to munch on some yummy-looking clover down the lane. The only thing the sheep is responsible for is to follow the shepherd. Because…you know, wolves and whatnot. And yet…off we go on our own way.
More than ever, I just want to snuggle up to the shepherd. Because I matter to Him. And that’s what matters most.
You can snuggle in with us. There’s room.
My heart is grateful. Yes, I have cancer. And I’m getting chemo. But Christmas is still awesome. Santa is still coming. 🙂 Still, Jesus was born. And God is on His throne in heaven. He is worthy of our trust despite these challenging bumps in the road. He makes us strong when we are weak. He provides just what is needed. Even when that isn’t what it seems like.
Getting things done around the holidays when you’re healthy is enough of a challenge. This is my 35th Christmas season and things are a little different. I bring you…Christmas splendor: the chemo version.
Well I figured out that last time things were so rough because I was dehydrated. Well, duh, just drink more water, Fool. Yes. But.
As I head into round 3 of chemo, I am kind of amazed. If you told me that one day I would have cancer, and the evening before a chemo treatment I’d be sitting calmly in front of my Christmas tree, listening to holiday tunes, savoring some homemade applesauce and feeling pretty content, I would have laughed. I mean, this is one of your worst nightmares, right? I have advanced stage, aggressive cancer. It’s no joke.
Do you have any character flaws?
Tim Keller, in his excellent book “Walking with God through Pain and Suffering” says that suffering is necessary. That it’s an important way to grow. That people who escape suffering are typically lacking in terms of resiliency, of knowing their strengths and weaknesses, of understanding the human experience with a depth of wisdom.