You can learn in any number of ways. But one of the most intense ways to learn and grow is to (either purposely or involuntarily) dive into the depths. The physical and psychological places where fear originates and persists.
The past 9 months or so, I was pushed closer and closer to the edge of that precipice with each doctor’s appointment and lab result. At first I fought, clawing my way back, unwilling to “go there.” But at some point, I stopped fighting, got up and walked to the edge on my own power and…jumped.
It was icky down there. (Not that I’m out of it entirely, now.) Confronting pain, suffering and the distinct possibility of not ever being whole again or even death. That shadowy place of frightening possibilities. Of sharp edges and dangerous creatures.
It’s been a daily battle, to varying degrees, facing whatever lurks in the darkness, while going about my routine of dealing with traffic, workplace adventures and a preschooler who wants to wear the same dress three days in a row. There’s an over dramatized musical montage in my mind of me slaying beasts with a bloody sword while wearing heels and approving a proposal via cell phone, while ordering a latte at Starbucks, late to pick up my kid from school. Those were the good days. Other days, the beasts were kind of winning.
But that’s where Jesus shows up, right? Well, not shows up so much as gently clears his throat and waves, reminding me he was here all along. I kind of picture him looking like Ryan Gosling. Hey, Girl. Cheering me on. Holding my hand. Cutting a hole in my swollen eyelid like that scene in one of the Rocky movies so I could keep fighting. Offering rest. Hope. Some cucumber water.
I got good news from my oncologist on Friday. Still waiting for the official word from a radiologist, but my meticulous doctor smiled at the weird gray images of my organs on the screen and said things look good for now.
What amazing words. But I find myself wondering if they’re too good to be true. I hesitate a wee bit to embrace the good news just because I’m pretty familiar with bad news. But! Just because I’m not assuming the good news is reliable just yet doesn’t mean anything except that, well, I’m realistic. I’m not particularly afraid of bad news or convinced the news will be bad. But I’m not doing the victory dance quite yet.
This is interesting – some people of faith seem to chastise me a bit when I don’t, say, proclaim that I am healed. Look, you can do what you want, but that’s not how it works from my perspective. Sometimes the news isn’t good no matter how much we say we believe it will be. No matter how much we pray it will be. Sometimes we need to go through a tough thing. Sometimes that is God’s will for us. Saying out loud that God has healed me will not make it so. Don’t get me wrong, I pray like gangbusters and expect you to, as well. Prayer is glorious and mysterious and required of us. And hope is beautiful. I’m not saying don’t pray and I’m not saying don’t hope – I’m saying this “name it and claim it” stuff is crazy. You know what’s way more powerful (in my opinion) than trying to (sorry if this offends) manipulate God into healing you? Trusting Him no matter what. Trusting Him in the darkness. I mean…have you read the Bible? People suffered, yo. And beauty came from their eternal perspective. Like, umm, Jesus? And Job. And Paul.
I love the passage in Daniel where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are about to get tossed into the fiery furnace and they say (paraphrased) “Our God will save us…but even if He does not…we will not worship you instead of Him.” Basically they know God can save them, they think He will, but more importantly, they trust Him no matter what. EVEN IF HE DOES NOT. To me, that’s real faith.
Turns out, they get tossed in. I wonder if they thought maybe God would send angels to scoop them up before they hit the fire. And when He didn’t…was there an “Oh, crap” moment? Instead of an angelic air lift rescue mission, into the flames they went. But they were not burned. And Jesus (or possibly an angel, depending on your interpretation) was in there with them.
I’ll probably always wonder if the cancer will come back. That doesn’t mean I’m not trusting God. I’m not trusting Him to make my life easy because He never said He would. I’m trusting Him no matter what crazy thing happens.