Today we are headed back to MD Anderson. Tomorrow will hold a pet scan and several doctors visits. I’ve been dreading this, not because of the trip, just because life has been normal for the last few days. I’ve packed lunches and gone to the gym, discussed boyfriends and physics, listened to other people’s problems and worked. Some of my friends helped me clean my house yesterday (not because had a cancer diagnosis, I’m domestically challenged on any given day) and it was great fun.
So today, the cancer box had to be opened as we were up at 4:00 (Cary was up. I layed in bed for an extra 15 or 20 minutes). We kissed our kids goodbye (the ones who were up). We made sure notes were on the counter for the people staying at our house before loading in the car and heading south.
The way this works is: You get a diagnosis, or new information & you Google it. You check in to it, you find things out. You get information (For me, this is a quick event because God has given me such peace and because no new sis good new, right!) Then, you remember that you have no control over this, but the one who can control it loves you desperately, and so you pray. You renounce cancer, you curse it, you choose to believe for healing. You surround yourself with others who have seen God heal, who knows he is who he says he is. You listen to their stories, you get filled up with faith, you get excited about what God is doing. You check your thoughts and make sure Kingdom reality trumps earthly reality… But the thoughts creep in, for me it is when my ear starts hurting, or the pressure builds up in my head and I have to lay down. Sometimes when I see my kid being 7 and I want to cherish the moment, sometimes when I have to get up out of my warm bed to turn off a light that has been left on at midnight, or look at the Christmas ornaments, or wipe pee off the floor in the bathroom 😖, the thought sneaks in… “What if this is the last time?” Thankfully, so many people have sent Psalm 118:17 to me, that it is my quick replacement thought, “I shall not die, but live!” And I believe this!
Today, though, the cancer disappeared. The box got lost at the airport. Cary and I were getting breakfast, and I was Jonesin’ for hot tea. I left him to go look for Starbucks. I saw a mom with two girls in a store. Attached to her bag was a back brace, the kind I wore in 8&9th grades. I couldn’t help but speak, “Hey, who does that belong to? I wore one of those for a year and a half.” Mom, “Really? The hardest thing is the clothes.” Me, “I know! At least yoga pants and big shirts are a look now.” “Yes, and jeggings give some diversity in style.” We talked about the boys who liked to punch me in the stomach when I wore one because it didn’t hurt me, about the benefits of yoga and excercise to help with pain. When dad walked up we made jokes about body builders trying yoga for the first time. We talked about loving people, about churches in Franklin, about middle school life and doctors at Vandy. It was a great conversation. They thanked me for the encouragement. If I had noticed I had dropped the cancer box, I would have thanked them for lightening my load.
That’s the way it is in life, people are a gift. When we lose ourselves in other people, we also lose our labels, our false identities, our masks, and without knowing it, they lighten our load. Walking on the Camino, I was always surprised and delighted that my feet would stop hurting when a new person would talk to me. I would get lost in the details of their lives or in telling them my stories, and forget about the pain. Emotoinal stuff no different. It’s all in what you focus on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about stuffing or ignoring our issues to have them erupt out of our inner depths later, it’s about coming along side each other as we are each healing from our own pain and lies we believe.
I’m reminded of a story, I think Candy Christmas was the speaker. Whoever it was, a woman was struggling with crippling depression. Her doctor wanted her to go to a psychiatric hospital. She had prayed and prayed for God to deliver her from this illness, but relief didn’t come. She had spent her life in ministry, she had all she needed & was thankful for her life, but the depression didn’t cease. She was praying and heard Holy Spirit ask, “What are you good at?” She said, “I can cook.” God, “Go cook a huge pot of jambalaya and take it to a certain bridge.” She did as she was instructed. Under that bridge were many homeless people. She met a man who was called in to ministry and through twists and turns ended up living under the bridge. She scooped out soup and prayed with people & the depression box dropped. The depression went away. There also started a church. Every week, hundreds of people come to the bridge to eat some food, feed on Jesus, and drop their boxes.
Ooh! And I met a man in the airport who works on Seseme Street! He creates the back drop for scenes shot in front of a green screen. He also works on faith based films and local advertisement. How cool is that. I got his info. I’m hoping to get an internship this summer for a special someone… We will see.
And for other great reading! I found The Letter by Michael Graff in Southwest The Magazine. It’s a great read. Have your tissues handy!