2/09/2015

The Weekend

Friday I told you I was awaiting pretty serious news regarding my health. Like maybe even cancer serious.

Today, after a long weekend of waiting, I have no answer.

I listened to this a lot:

All pics in this post are from this weekend.

Today, I may get some sort of answer.

It shouldn't be an easy thing to spend a weekend wondering if you might have cancer.

I'm not saying it was easy. It wasn't.

But...I'm not freaking out.

Some of our dearest friends were over Friday night, a plan made weeks and weeks in advance, and I kept the plan because having a glass or two of wine and laughing uproariously at Cards Against Humanity sounded like fun for all those weeks, so why not keep the plan? I might get bad news so stop having fun in the meantime? Hells to the no. That would be ridic.

Very important: Jason played this Saturday night. Super Bowl Rematch.
Seahawks won 35-7. Marshawn had 3 rushing TDs. As it should have been. *sob*

At one point Friday evening, my friend Becky, who was all up on what was going on, looked at Jason and I and said, "I can't believe you guys are so relaxed. How are you not freaking out?"

I thought about that, and the thing is, I can't take credit for it. Some of it is may be my disposition, the way God made me. I don't tend to be a dweller on scary things, nor particularly anxious. I got stuff, to be sure, just cripping anxiety doesn't tend to be one, not even now, possibly facing the kind of news that tends to give people anxiety.

I'm not telling you I lied when I said I was scared, because there is fear.

It's just that it's not consuming. Like, I wonder if when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the fiery furnace if they could feel that it was hot yet they were not painfully burned. I really have no idea, and the scripture doesn't make it clear.

Scripture does talk about jars of clay, pressed in from every side yet not destroyed.

I can't not share this scripture with you, because it describes me better than my own words ever could; emphases mine.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
[2 Corinthians 4:7-18 ESV]

How beautiful is that?

Remember how I said my greatest fear was not cancer? That it was to tell you I'm scared that I might have cancer and have it be nothing?

Here's the thing: health problems like mine make me feel like a hypochondriac. In fact, many thyroid patients are told they are hypochondriacs and sent away from doctor after doctor. I can get more into that another day.

The thing is, I am not a hypochondriac. I have probably erred on the side of ignoring too many things for too long. That became evident when I shared a few symptoms and got crazy looks or texts of, "And why weren't you pursuing that already?" Additionally, I thought maybe I am just being silly, that this is nothing, but words like "black spots on my liver" and "liver mass" and "renal mass" had friends in the medical field telling me, "Yes, possibly nothing...but oh my word, Tami, possibly something! How did all of Wednesday's events not bug you until Thursday evening?"

Whoops.

But I don't like attention for pity's sake. I would HATE to seem like I'm writing this stuff just so you'll feel sorry for me.

Never would have chosen autism for this guy, yet the beauty through it?
Priceless. Almost as priceless as Rog himself.

I think maybe that's why the Lord would have me write about a lot on this blog--the health stuff on my part, pieces of my past, my children's autism diagnoses, etc. As far as I can see in my own heart, it is the last thing I want to be known for, that sonufa known as suffering. I'd rather be funny, jab at the absurdities of Christian culture in America, and tell you about the broken things in the world and how we can be part of the change, be someone who helps build a whole lotta wells in Africa. That kind of stuff.

Ok, and also a lot of stuff about the Seahawks. Because I love them.

Instead, Jesus has chosen for suffering to be a recurring theme in my life. In some ways, I do honestly wonder if he chose me because the way he knit me together is that optimist, the person who can always find the best in any given situation. By a miracle of grace, I don't wrestle with constantly questioning the goodness of God or dwelling on worst case scenarios.

Now, HUGE caveat. There is a famous preacher whom I once heard tell a room full of people to obey God with money like he his whole life, and that the reason God gave him such an incredibly large sum of money from a very successful Christian project he did was because, and I quote:

Do you know why God gave me all that money?
Because he knew what I'd do with it.

Nope. Nopenopenope. The idea that there is inherent goodness in any of us, that some of us are just better than others so God blesses us, is the biggest bull. Tullian Tchividjian covers this perfectly in this post.

So lest you think I am saying, "God chose me to suffer because I could just magically have a good attitude all conjured up from deep in the best parts of me, but God made me that way so it's like totally his glory!" then no! Just...no no no no no no no no no.

But that scripture I shared with you hits on something.

There is a possibility that perhaps God did give me a disposition less prone to crippling anxiety than others, but a: I am not less sinful on any account and b: that's not to say I don't still experience fear, even sinful fear.

This is what I know, though. Suffering does something to a person. It frees you.

It's why this is my favorite book, because Tullian (yup, him again) goes through the why and the how.

Yesterday, Sunday, I was wondering why I wasn't more freaked out. The sensible thing is that I was just convincing myself that nothing was wrong. There are fibroids in my family. Fibroids and cysts are super common in tons of people. It's probably nothing, my word, don't even think that the big ol' C-word applies. Just be rational.

But that's not it. There's the constant pain in my stomach and back and the swollen, painful lymph nodes for getting close to two months. While those don't make me certain that something horribly bad is wrong, I couldn't logic myself into certainty that nothing is.

No. The peace I had wasn't because I felt nothing, nor was it because I convinced myself I was fine.

It goes beyond that. I don't know why God chose suffering to be a recurring theme in my life. I do know that through it, there is something in me that no one can ever take away.

Perspective.

Through suffering, the Lord has shown me time and again that this "light momentary affliction is preparing [me] for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."

Yes, I fear leaving my children behind. I fear how my husband would cope without me. I fear the pain and sorrow that would afflict them. But I also know that suffering in my life has helped me experience intimacy and grace from the Lord that I would never have known apart from the affliction. Compared to the beauty of knowing the love and grace of Christ in ways that I could never deny because they are engraved on my soul? I'll take the suffering, because it's light when weighed against my eternally good and gracious God.

The background image I set on my profile on my husband's MBP.
Not a perfectly posed shot yet perfectly our family.

There is a hope not just in life on the other side of death, but in the life lived knowing that God is good and trustworthy now. And if the Lord's plan for me is that there aren't as many more days in my life as I might hope, or even that I do have cancer and suffer tremendously but beat it, I know the immeasurable ways God will prove his faithfulness through grace and tenderness will just evermore set the eyes of my beloved family (plus those around us and beyond) on the glorious weight of knowing Jesus Christ.

That brings a lot of freedom. It's not to deny the very real fears, nor the fact that the thought of"what is happening in my body?" has never been more than a few moments away from being thought once again all weekend. But there is tremendous liberation in knowing that I can trust Jesus. The Lord knows both what exactly is going on in my body and all that the future holds therein, and the Spirit is graciously beckoning me to trust that God's will is good, and then giving me the ability to do so. It's not placating when Romans says that " for those who love God all things work together for good." It's life giving truth that is best known through suffering, the things that don't make sense, the stuff we'd never choose to endure. For what it's worth, read all of Romans 8 from time to time because amazing!

So it's not that I have zero worry. Nor is it that I am overcome by anxiety. I have had many moments of, "Lord, I don't know what this is, but help me to cling to you." And probably just as many of, "Lord, let me grow old and hold my babies' babies." Moments of asking Jason how he's doing,  and agreeing that we both feel an overwhelming sense of peace that we'll know when we know and that we can rest in the Lord being good in the midst of both the not knowing and then the knowing. Or being asked by friends how I am and sharing pretty much that same sentiment with them. 

A big piece is that even if it isn't cancer, something is still wrong with me. In some ways cancer would at least answer why I feel so horrible all of the time and nothing is making me better.  Jason actually said that when I first told him about masses on the ultrasound, that maybe this will finally give us some answers. 

In many ways I agree with him. I'm not saying I want cancer, just that when months of not feeling well turn into years and you give what feels like endless amounts of actual blood, sweat, and tears and there are no answers? That's not really living. Alive, yes. Living, no.

Also, though, even if it's just rando fibroids that do go away and this really wasn't significant in the rest of my health stuff, it isn't for naught. Because I sure did hug my kids tighter, stop and really see them a lot more this weekend, and that's pretty priceless.


Snuggling her for eternity would never be enough.

But the point is, today won't tell me if I have cancer or not, even if I get the call confirming there are masses in my abdomen. Presumably it's just more tests. And even if that turns out to be cancer, or something more than nothing, as the case may be, man alive, there is just the sweetest freedom in knowing I can trust the Lord. The experience this weekend has solidified that in my soul yet again.

I say all this not because I found the magic trick. I didn't. The overwhelming peace is definitely a gift of grace from God that, while giftwrapped to me through much suffering, could also ebb and flow if the diagnosis does end up in scary terminal land. I can only say that this weekend has been so good because I felt felt the tangible presence of the Comforter, the one who cares about every hair that falls from my head and knew every day of my life before I ever came to be.

What I hope is so very clear is that I get to share these things because of freedom that has come through suffering. I hope that allowing you to see that my "life is hard / the struggle is real," as dem kids be saying, shows you how faithfully Jesus has surrounded me with peace beyond myself. And maybe, just maybe, to help loosen the grip of anxiety on your own soul in the areas where you resist suffering, resist admitting suffering, and surrender to the grace that is yours in Christ, to learn the beautiful freedom of reliance on God through suffering. 

Shucks. I intended this to be a quicker post. And you probably hate me for not having the answers. That ain't my fault! But I just couldn't bear the thought of experiencing so much sweetness this weekend and not sharing it. Not to mention that my last post, admitting fear, might have left the impression that I rocked in a corner crying and scared for 2.5 days. 

Suffice it to say, I'll keep sharing what I am learning through this health mess; I know from the number of people who have reached out that I am not alone in facing very scary health stuff. It's amazing to me that putting some words in this text box is so helpful to so many people.

Gah! I will never get over how much I love writing and then it's actually grace to others. That's nuts. 


In the meantime, know that God is good. This sista can testify!

And, goodness me, if you want to feel better about your own life just watch last night's The Walking Dead because UGH. No spoilers but they ruined my life. I did NOT see that coming. Jerks. I'm just sayin'.

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