On With This Business of Living

So, today it’s on with the business of living.  Time to start moving forward.  I leave the neighborhood for the first time since the surgery.
One, to go get blood work done to make sure my hormones are going down like they should.  Also, I meet with my internship supervisor this afternoon to iron out details.  My dad is coming up today, and we’re going to the state fair this evening.  I will be experiencing the fair through the vantage point of a wheelchair, since long walks still cause my incision sites to hurt like crazy.  Though I suppose this is sort of a turnabout is fairplay, since three years ago J and I pushed my dad in a wheelchair around the fair after his cancer surgery at Mayo.

Today is also the first day I’m wearing something other than pajamas since my surgery last Friday; also the first day I’ve actively fixed my hair and put on make-up.  And I wish I could say it felt good; mostly it feels sad – with a taste of defeat.  No miracle is occuring; denial opportunities have passed. The nightmare is reality, and now I go on with my life.  It feels like carefully packing up dreams into a box and storing them away in a dark, abandoned closet.

While putting on make-up this morning, I had flashbacks to surgery day, and the doctors and nurses who kept commenting on how awesome my eye make-up was – even after the crying and waking up in the recovery room after surgery.  (The trick is eye make-up primer and Urban Decay’s make-up setting spray). All I could think while people kept saying nice things was how much I didn’t care what I looked like in the light of my circumstances.  Which is sort of odd – because I remember feeling a need to look cute that day as I asked my sister to take a picture after the ultrasound if things went okay.  Needless-to-say – no picture occurred that afternoon.

Joel 2:23-32: An Abundance of Grace

Well, it’s now October and it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. Between having a miscarriage and the journey of medical craziness with my dad’s tongue cancer since May, I feel as though I’ve walked through the fire and back. God’s been nudging me to pick up my Bible all this week, and this week I’ve been afraid of it. I’ve tiptoed around it and been fearful of what it’s going to tell me. Whenever I get this metaphysical feeling of dread about this wondrous book, I know God’s got something he wants to say…usually not something I want to hear.

It’s been awhile since I’ve followed the lectionary cycle, so I decided to pick back up again with it. Though I researched what the lectionary texts were at about 8:00 AM this morning, it took me until noon to actually work up the nerve to open the good book. It just sat there in front of me on the ottoman, while I then blogged about other things, including pictures and a restaurant review…And then, after writing for a few hours, well then I had to move furniture in the living room and then accidentally shorted out the circuit that powers the motem, computer and TV. And then finally a great voice within me said quietly…”Enough already. Either choose to hang out with me. Or don’t.” So, I stopped. Took a breath. Shakily grabbed my Bible, and opened to Joel 2:23-32. And the words followed from the page into my heart as though they’d been written just for me. Emotions overwhelming washed over.

“O children o Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord you God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.”

I am so profoundly grateful that my father has escaped his cancer battle alive thus far. Alive and able to speak and eat and thrive. I value the new relationship with him that walking through the fire together has forged. And in the dark time of staying up through the night with him, God has forged something else in me. A renewed sense of his presence and his promise.

And I’m currently walking through another dark time that I don’t know how God will work out, but I do have a sense that he is with me. This issue went on the back burner while the immediate issue of my dad’s well being took center stage. My dad is back on his own two feet now. And then, last week a well meaning friend brought up the issue of my miscarriage last May, and that set off a downward spiral into an issue I thought was water under the bridge. My husband and I are verging on four years of trying to get pregnant. Four years and 2 miscarriages. In a culture where one of the first questions we ask strangers is “so, do you have any kids?” I’m finding myself frequently full of shame as I try to answer this question. If you say simply no, then people press, “well, don’t you want kids?” Which then leads to more shame as I explain that our lack of children is not a lack of wanting – but an inability to get pregnant/stay pregnant. Which makes me feel less womanly, less whole, and more as though there is something wrong with me and maybe even with this God that I profess to believe in. And then if you’re more honest and throw out the whole truth or portions of the truth, then people feel the need to say “oh, you’re so young” or “you’ve got to quit trying so hard”. Which again causes shame and pain and awkwardness.

In my weakness, I want to read this passage as though God’s going to give me children to take away my sense of shame. I want to put my earthly definition of wholeness and satisfaction on the promise. God’s not allowing me that option this morning. The promise is that I will be made whole, made healthy – but in his version of healthy. Redeemed in relationship with Him. Discovering the abundance of grace that he has already poured out on me – most recently, the gift of my father. The gift of my father’s health. The gift of a new, deeper relationship with my dad. The gift of a husband who shows up and helps out without complaining through all this journey…staying up nights with me in the hospital, learning how to do things when I wasn’t ready (taking out the inner part of my dad’s trach and cleaning it). The gift of a God who promises all this misery is temporary. A day is coming when all this shame I carry will be gone. A day when He comes back, and we and all creation get to be made whole. When our world’s brokenness is mended, when games powerful men play will end, and wars will cease. And I’m still sitting here waiting. Hoping.

But, God’s here with me today. And I still believe He’s coming back, and that the embarrassment of today will fade in His presence.

Prayer is Different Now

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” – C.S. Lewis

Back in college and high school I hated this quote. It seemed contrary to who I understood God to be. What’s the point of praying if it didn’t move God to do something about the mess I or the person I was praying for was in? At that point for me, there was none. I went to God with my requests like a daily list of intangibles (and who I am kidding–tangible things too) for a cosmic Santa to fulfill year round. I had good intentions sometimes; sometimes I was just selfish and earthly oriented. But the point was that I fully expected God to hear my petitions and do something about them.

But, in the last couple of months, prayer is different for me now.

At first I tried not speaking to God. I created a sullen wall of silence. I didn’t hear him speaking, and frankly if He wasn’t going to do anything about the messes–I didn’t want to speak to Him either. But then one day in the shower I had a realization.

Whether I feel God is good in this moment or not, wether (to be honest) God exists and is active or not – I don’t much care for the person I become when I am not looking for Him. And here was the double whammy: I found that ultimately I find myself looking for Christ because I can’t abide the person I am without Him. At the end of the day, it is not about whether God likes me or I like him – being in relationship with him is the only way for my life to function.

All this realization did was make way for conversation. These days I don’t make requests and I don’t expect God to do something. I try not to be vested in outcomes. I live. I feel. I rage at God. And at two in the morning when I wake up, I tell him I am sad. I am scared. I am worried. For me. For my dad. For my husband. For my marriage. For my job. For my own future.

For now, this is enough.