So. Everyone I know has cancer. Or might have cancer. Or has beaten cancer. It is a massive percentage of my thought process each day and, these days, pretty much consumes my Facebook experience entirely. I have had this thought: “So help me–if I don’t get assailed with photos of an overachieving child or subjected to somebody’s cat in a halloween suit within the next two posts I’m going to lose it.” And then I feel terrible. How dare I?! Can I not take a few more moments to be heartbroken before I stand up on my healthy legs and go wash the clothes of my healthy family? So I do. And throughout the day I try to keep the brokenheartedness just below the surface of the mundane. The beautiful beautiful mundane. Who has it now? How are they doing? Have the tests come back yet? Is the treatment working? Has he woken up yet? Please! What are her counts today? Please do a miracle! Will he feel like eating? How will they cope? Please! What do I pray now? Will it come back? How long are they safe? Can I stop being afraid yet? Should I start being afraid now?
Auggie sleeps with an old Indiana Jones birthday card. The kind that plays the heroic and inspiring theme song whenever it’s opened. At an excellent volume. So as I am downstairs and on the other side of the house, I am notified when he is awake by heroic and inspiring music through the monitor.
One early morning, in the bleary-eyed yet treasured moments before everyone wakes up, I was thinking about the no less than 7 people I know of who are going through chemo or are about to be, praying, crying a bit, and waiting for the coffee to finish.
An assignment from the class I’m in has us take a verse and make an “I believe/I will” statement about something we read, so I was resignedly composing this:
John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
I believe the Lord CARES about us and we are not pieces on a chessboard. I believe the hard, awful, stupid, frustrating, terrifying things we go through are not done to us by Him. I will trust that He knows the best route to travel, the one that will build us into creatures ready to do battle with evil and capable of victory over it. But as the guy who gives Indiana Jones his fedora said, “…that doesn’t mean (I) have to like it.”
I really hoped the card music would go off after I finished typing that.
As some sort of sign.
Because it would have been EPIC.
But it didn’t.
Oh well. Missed opportunity, God. I took another sip of coffee and acknowledged that He is still wonderful even if my ideas are SO good and, frankly, sometimes better than His. Like making quinoa taste like brownies. Wouldn’t that have been better?! Quinoa is not a real food, God! It really, really isn’t!
A few years ago, while we were living in El Paso, my friend’s sister was senselessly and tragically killed and I was heartbroken for him. A few weeks before that, one of my brother’s sweet friends had been nonsensically murdered. I was sitting at my computer that night, crying and demoralized, not really sure what to feel or ask for.
The damage was done. How could anything make it better? Then our stupid stupid sprinkler system was doing something stupid so I went out the back door, still blinded by tears, to reset the system and promptly locked myself out.
Sam was deployed. It was late and the kids were not only asleep but also incapable of figuring out how to unlock it even if I could have terrified them awake. I was fairly certain our neighbors were drug dealers so they did not factor into my options. I was distraught. I futilely pushed against the locked door, jiggling the doorknob, crying, scared, still furious that God would let such things happen to people–didn’t He realize that letting loved ones get killed was not a great way to show how much He cares about us? (shoulder push) You’re messing everything up, God. (cuss, kick) Why can’t You just leave the nice people alone? (stamping foot) Why can’t the evil people get hit by cars? (push push push) Why can’t You just (frantic jiggling)–can’t You just (pointless turning)…GOD! JUST OPEN THIS DOOR!
The door opened.
My brain being stunned into absolute silence, I heard very clearly in my still raging heart: I am the key.
I made a cake on Thursday. Then I ate it. Not on the same day, but over an amount of days less than 4.
You may now be asking yourself, What does that have to do with anything, Christina?
Is that so very different from your usual Thursday and subsequent days less than 4?
I think not, Herr Donovan…
The point is that when my heart is overwhelmed and the world looks pretty bleak, I don’t suddenly remember my Charlemagne and deflect danger and depression with creative solutions. I tend to make cake and then eat most of it. (Though sometimes I do decorate them…) My plans are actually not better than God’s. So if my plan involves nothing ever happening to anyone and no one ever getting hurt, it’s probably not the best plan. There’s a better one, one I don’t have access to at the moment. One that feels locked to me. I don’t have to understand it and I don’t have to like it. But I do have to trust that when it does open to me, I’ll hear the heroic and inspiring music and I’ll know He was awake, He was there, He did care, He did love, He didn’t mess anything up, He is here, He is in this, He will bring us through, and He is the key.