March 10, 2016.
It’s just a date. Maybe it’s a significant one to you, maybe not. For us, it was another meaningless day on our calendar until last week. On January 19, we had an MRI and an appointment to review the scans with our oncologist immediately following it. At the end of that appointment, we were told Jesse would not need to see the doctor until March 10. Just shy of two months. That’s the longest we have gone without driving to the med center since September 7, 2015. We get to celebrate Jesse’s birthday in February. We get to spend uninterrupted time in our home just watching life unfold before us. We get to celebrate our sweet Lady Adley’s 6th birthday. All before our next appointment. I’m elated at this gap of no appointments. And I’m terrified. A lot can change in two weeks.
I’ve never been the emotionally wavering sort of gal, but I’m learning to exist through the tall waves of ever-fluctuating feelings that come with living alongside a long term illness. I think I wrote somewhere at the beginning of all of this that, though we long for healing to come, we know that there is a kind of impenetrable, undeniable, unshakable hope that comes from walking a path of healing and not being instantaneously healed. The Lord has proved himself over and over again, and that makes the healing that has come and is to come that much more memorable, that much more powerful, to us. We are still longing for complete earthly healing to come, still yearning to be tumor free. We have moments when the reality of what the Lord has called us to threatens to overwhelm the freedom He gives us when we call Him our own.
Sometimes, I find Jesse sitting on the edge of our bed, facing the wall, elbows resting on knees, hands intertwined, shoulders drooped, gaze fixed on the nothingness of the wall before him. Sometimes, I walk in, kneel beside him, and ask what I can do to help. Most of the time, I don’t need to ask. It’s a posture I’ve learned to associate with a deep sense of overwhelmedness. Sometimes, he feels overwhelmed. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed. . .but that is not to be confused with feeling overcome. Death and struggle and sin, after all, have already been overcome by this Jesus guy we know. The tangled web of a truth is, we feel like the Lord entrusted us with brain cancer to proclaim His glory; and we also feel like the Lord is stretching us in painful ways like a potter working clay to shape it into its intended form for a purpose only its unique shape can fulfill. And it is hard. It hurts.
But this we know, beloved people. This we KNOW, because this we LIVE. . .
We can choose. We can choose to resist the stretching. We can choose to take hold of whatever we feel puts us in control, and tighten our grasp around it until we are white knuckled with strain. We can choose to look on this present suffering as a punishment and accept brain cancer as a bitter cup to drink. We can choose to look back at the sorrows of 2015 and ignore the grace and the mercy of it. We can choose embitterment for our present and our future. We can choose bondage.
. . . OR . . .
We can choose freedom. We can choose to let go of our superficial and fleeting sense of control, relax our grasp, and open our hands in surrender. We can choose to look on this present suffering as the grace that it is, and accept brain cancer as a means for our betterment (because there is nothing better than pointing people to God’s glory). We can choose to look back on our sorrows and see the hands of God weaving His everlasting story of redemption and rescue into the core of who we are so that when people ask us:
We can say:
“Because He is good.”
. . .and we can smile a real, unmasked, unhindered smile, because we know it to be true.