The Waiting.

I thought I would wait to update until my doctor called to
tell me what’s up with this biopsy.  But
I realized that this time, this waiting, is worth sharing about.  I get about 20 texts or Facebook messages a
day asking if I’ve heard anything, which tells me that people are just as
anxious to hear about this as I am.  We’re
all biting our nails and pacing.  Of
course I’m the only one with the phone practically sewn into my palm (those of
you with ongoing health issues know that missing a call from your doc and the
subsequent phone tag is a special flavor of suffering that can invoke everything
from a gnawing uneasiness that gets worse each second to sheer DEFCON 1 level
panic.)  We’re all wanting to know.  We all desperately long for that miraculous
good news, of course.  And we understand
how much more likely bad news is (or even some weird, inconclusive
report.)  We understand that this phone
call will point us in a particular direction. 
One very different from the other. If the news is to be bad, we ought to probably just get on with it, right? 

This is a lonely place. 
Even as much as people reach out and make great effort to be with me in the ways they can, and I understand we are in this
together, it’s often a solitary experience.  There
are so many moments I’m alone, or even when among others, I’m alone in my
thoughts.  And I turn many things over in
my brain.  But mostly I pray.  I commune with God.  I respond to the tugs toward the kind of relating
we are created for.  Our thankfulness and
God’s reassurance.  Over and over. 

My friend likes to talk about spiritual things like the
existence of God and such with the question: 
what is this….like what is ALL of this? 
Who are we and what is our purpose? 
How does it work?  Because – that’s
what it’s really all about, right?  What
IS this?  And who ARE we?  Who made us? 
And why?  And what happens
next?  We should really concern ourselves
with these questions – and circumstances such as these (waiting for the doc to
call about the maybe cancer) brings all of these rushing to the forefront.  If you don’t know – well, I don’t quite know
how I would approach all of this.  Whatever gets you through.  But
even when you feel you know, you have to really really really remind
yourself.  A coworker recently called the
Devil “the stranger who distracts you with lies”  – now I don’t spend a lot of time studying
the character of Satan in The Bible.  I
think because a lot of Christians talk about him in this super scary, unhelpful
way, and blame him for a lot of things that are really about choices of
humans.  Satan, in these days and times
is often just an excuse.  But really…if
he is the Father of Lies, and if he seeks to steal, kill and destroy, it makes
sense to me that he would whisper lies to me, to try to take me off track.  The thoughts that enter my head are dark and
full of fear.  They are sad.  They are hopeless.  They invoke anger and ultimately a deep sense
of mistrust toward God.  “He’s betrayed you” says the liar.  Sounds like
something Satan would do.  Or maybe it’s
my own laziness.  It’s hard work to fix
my eyes on Jesus.  When I’m doing it –
praying without ceasing, writing out prayers of thanksgiving, giving my heart
over to God, reading sound biblical interpretation, spending time in prayerful
meditation, talking with people who comfort and encourage – I’m in the
zone.  The waiting doesn’t bother


This is in God’s hands. 
It’s in His time.  All things,
even the waiting, are for my good.  This
has given me a unique time with Him – a time to seek Him in a particular
way.  It seems you  can’t have this kind of palatable closeness
with God unless you are running to Him, full speed, desperate, totally vulnerable.  Chased by terrifying beasts.  But up ahead is the castle, and the King stands at the ready.  The gates are open just for you, and His
sword slays all that dare to harm you. 

He sees fit for me to wait.  So I wait and when the waiting is hard, because the fear builds up, I run to Him.     

By logic

Someone once told me I was too smart to be a Christian.  I was both flattered and pretty sure they were insulting me.  And I know what they meant.  It’s true, there are a ton of people out there who grew up in the faith but have never really thought it through, or seem to just blindly believe, and say things that don’t make sense and such.  And most people I know who don’t believe in God have either experienced a high volume of life pain and just given up on the idea, or are pretty smart and have thought about it a lot.  

I’ll save the “how I met Jesus” story for another day.  But I wanted to share some thoughts I had to this article:

A friend shared it on Facebook, and it got me thinking.  To summarize, in case you’re too lazy to read it, the guy is saying that in most developed nations, people believe that you can be a moral person without believing in God. But not America.  We, the majority, anyway, apparently believe that you can’t be a good person unless you believe in God.  He is saying how crazy that is – that we should be more like the evolved Europeans, and less like the dummies in Africa and South America.  Basically, he’s saying we’re rich enough to know better.  

Aside from being patently offensive to our friends in less developed nations, there is a problem with this argument from a logical perspective.  

Moral, according to WHO?  Feel free to quit now.  I’m about to get all Philosophy 101 up in here.  

What is the basis for morality if not (a) God?  If there is no god, no higher power, then there is no basis for morality except whatever the individual believes is right/wrong.  

When an atheist uses a term like morality, logically, what they mean is a standard that meets their own.  Like this:  I think killing puppies is wrong because, well, because I think so.  So my standard is “no puppy killing.”  You don’t kill puppies, therefore I deem you to be “moral.”  

How can any of us believe we are sound enough to set the standard?  Seriously!  I mean, I once believed that the Care Bears could rescue me if I wished hard enough.  Clearly I cannot be trusted with inventing a sound version of morality.  

How can we view another person or group or culture and deem them moral or amoral unless we have a standard that originates in a higher being of some kind?  I know I’m not “good” enough to set the standards.  There is no way I could judge another person’s choices against simply my own current ideas.

I’m not saying you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.  Hey, this world is ROUGH sometimes and having faith has major challenges.  But being an atheist and thinking you can judge who is moral and who isn’t is bananas. 

I know I’m not good enough – I would make up an easy system that I could probably adhere to:  no murdering, no punching anyone in the face, no stealing anything of significant value (I accidentally steal pens a lot) and call it a day.  Beyond that…who is to say?  It’s all relative.  Yes.  It IS all relative.  UNLESS there is a “higher power.”  

See, I have to turn to something that I believe is far more infallible than I am – for me, it’s the Bible.  No judgment here toward any atheists for the choice to not believe.  That’s between you and God (haha, see what I did there?). But I do, logically, question the place of the idea of morality in the belief system of someone who believes in nothing greater than humans.  Our own senses of morality vary so much from person to person, and greatly just within ourselves, throughout our own singular life.  Maybe you used to believe divorce was wrong, but now you don’t.  Maybe you believed stealing was wrong but you can see some situations where stealing is, maybe ok.  Gay marriage seemed bonkers 20 years ago.  Now you have married gay friends.  You used to think pornography was fine, until you saw someone’s life ruined by it.  You used to think drugs were bad, but now pot is legal…hmm.  How can we trust ourselves to set any standards?  

I have no idea what I’m doing and neither do you.  I have to go to a being higher than myself.  I have to look to God.  As for morality…I just try to read a bunch of books written by really smart people who do their best to interpret The Bible, read it myself clumsily, mostly fail at doing what it says, but knowing for sure a couple of simple, plain truths of Scripture:  God loves me, I screw up a lot (fail at being moral) but that’s why Jesus died, all things work together for my good, heaven is going to be really great and while many things suck, everything is going to be ok.  

So if we don’t all want to follow Jesus, that’s cool.  But you really can’t make up your own buffet-style moral code and possibly think you’re the one who got it right.  In order for direction to even exist, let alone find it, we must have a compass.  

You can’t be the compass – you’re broken.  Me, too.

Maybe there is no God…sure, that’s possible.  But it’s just crazy to not believe in God but think that morality is real or somehow matters.  No God = no morality.  No compass = no direction.  So, if that’s where you land, fine.  Just do whatever and don’t worry about the direction.  

My last point: that need for direction, that urge for justice, that sense of right and wrong…that’s God…the whispers of Him in and around you.  You can reject it because of how deeply you hold onto whatever sent you down the path away from belief in the first place.  Or you can turn around and come back this way a little.  You’re always welcome.  

Even if He does not

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.