Linda and I have learned so much through this journey God is leading us through. I’m so thankful for His grace. We have experienced His grace in so many ways. God has allowed Linda to avoid most of the side effects of chemo treatments. While she has had a few days where she feels exhausted, she hasn’t felt a lot of nausea, experienced mouth sores, lost her hair (yet), and has experienced very little pain. To be honest, she’s felt better in the last 4 months than she had the previous year.
As a result we can go a period of time without thinking too much about her battle with cancer. And it is there that I learned something interesting . . . We’ve both come to realize that there are a couple different challenges we’ve experienced due to people inquiring into Linda’s health. Let me be really clear. These inquiries have been gracious, sincere, and very appreciated. With that said, there have been two very specific challenges that come each time someone asks us about her battle with cancer.
It forces me to think about something I don’t want to think about.
I’ve wondered at times if people have sensed my apprehension to return calls or respond to emails and texts. Often there is a battle that goes on in my heart and mind. Every time I update someone on how Linda is doing, I have to think about how Linda is doing. I’m finding that, for the most part, as one goes through cancer there is a desire to have as normal a life as possible. They don’t want to constantly think about the battle they are facing. They desire to go through a day with all the normal challenges and joys . . . without having to summarize all the negative things they are going through. I don’t want to think about life expectancy, side effects, bone marrow transplants, a month long hospital stay, hair loss, wigs, etc. I know those things are realities in our life, but they’re not things I want to dwell on either. But, each time I update someone on Linda, I have to not only think about those challenging realities, but I have to articulate them.
Is the solution for people to stop asking? . . . Not at all! I want people to ask. I want to share those things with people because I want them to pray with us. I want to know people care . . . but I’m just acknowledging something I never realized before. Keeping people updated can hurt at times.
I end up trying to be strong for the other person.
As I was attempting to communicate those feelings to Linda, she mentioned another element of which I hadn’t considered. When people ask her about how she’s doing, she automatically goes into ministry mode. Instead of unloading the challenges and hurts she is experiencing (which I would imagine most people would be okay with her doing), she responds in a way that will help the other individual. It’s at moments like this that we want to encourage people to trust in God’s sovereignty. God works all things out for good to those who love God. We truly believe that and it brings us daily comfort. We try to assure those precious people that we are doing okay and that God has given us a measure of grace that we have never experienced.
I’m most certain that the people inquiring into our lives have no expectation of us feeling the need to minister to them at that time . . . but, that seems to be what we end up trying to do. If this confession in some way sounds pious to you, please don’t misunderstand me. I think there are times when we ought to feel comfortable unloading our emotions onto the people who are walking with us through life. I just don’t think that Linda and I have figured out where and when that is to occur.
It’s more likely that those moments of deep emotion have come in times of prayer and maybe even in the moments we loudly sing along with a song that reflects our hearts aches and desires.
I’ll bring you into one of those moments . . . Not too long ago, I stood at my office window, simply crying out to the Lord (and actually crying which is a bit uncharacteristic for me), “I can’t do this!! I can’t lose her!! This can’t be your will!!” And yet this journey is His will. I don’t understand why God chooses to do the things He does or allow the things He allows. But, I don’t need to know why. I know this. God loves us! He will never leave us or forsake us. He will work all things out for our good and His glory. His redemptive purposes and plan are beyond my comprehension, and I’m going to trust Him.
I didn’t stop crying . . . but I was at rest. I can’t explain that except to say it’s due to God’s amazing grace.
By the way, I’m not writing this to try to be strong for you. I just unloaded 🙂