I told Tommy this morning that I sure wish I could take some of this from him. And I really do. Actually, I’d rather take ALL of it from him, if I could.
I wish he didn’t have cancer. I wish he hadn’t had so many complications. I wish he didn’t face such a difficult recovery. I wish we could just speed up time and this would all be far, far behind him.
Or, even better … I wish it had never happened at all.
I was sitting out on my porch early this morning thinking these thoughts, and they just morphed themselves into me wishing the last six months had not even happened. For ANY of us.
Our combined families have faced what has felt like unending shock, stress, grief, disappointments, and the torment of relentless unknowns. And it doesn’t even stop there. Friends, neighbors, coworkers … so many people I care about are weighed down right now with similar battles, all bearing such kindred heartaches.
And this hurts.
It hurts to experience this kind of pain, but I think it hurts even more to witness it. At least it does for me. It’s just a slow torture watching people struggle, isn’t it?
We have to do so much of this as nurses. But at least when I’m at work, I actually have some power to help those I’m caring for. Not so much when the scrubs come off and it’s just me and the people I love.
It’s that helpless feeling that compels me to just start wishing it all away. And that’s what I was doing this morning when God stepped in and suddenly hushed those thoughts from my mind.
Who am I to wish for anything other than what God allows?
Who am I to wish my loves a life of painless ease over the beauty of learning to trust our Abba Father?
Who am I to forget how faithful He’s been to me through my own difficult journey?
That He’s walked so closely with me?
Helped me to see everything so differently?
Who am I to wish my loves a life free from this experience?
To think that I know better?
Who am I to forget all that I’ve learned?
Who am I to not want that same beauty for everyone?
Who am I to become so wearied by what’s been happening around me that I’ve stopped singing all this from the mountaintops?
Well, I’ll tell you who I am. I’m a mama, wife, sister, daughter, friend, patient, AND nurse who struggles with all this on a daily basis. And that’s the honest truth.
The seen versus the unseen.
The present versus the eternal.
Fun-filled happiness versus an unshakeable, fire-proven joy.
Well, there you have it right there – that’s who I am:
I’m a weak, sinfully-confused fence-rider.
With the best of intentions, of course.
I DO want my loves to experience the richness of a faith-filled journey. I want them to understand that this life is not all there is. That there is a God who spoke our world into existence and still holds all things together. That our 80+ years here are but a mere second in light of eternity. That we can walk in joyful assurance of spending that eternity with Jesus. That we can know this right here, right now.
That’s what I want.
But my problem is that I want them to come to it the easy way. The way that doesn’t hurt. The way that doesn’t stop your life cold and keep you away from home for weeks at a time. The way that doesn’t contain that slimy pit you’re constantly trying to fight your way out of. The way that isn’t so darned scary.
That’s how I want it to happen.
But that’s just not how it works. And Dummy Debi should not need reminding of this in light of her own clumsy tangle of a journey. The one that’s led to this very moment with you and I being joined right here by my rambling words.
So it’s this tight-rope that I walk: I want both. For everybody.
My point is, my friends, that we don’t get to make that choice.
I’ve actually written about this a lot lately (see On wrestling with that ice-cold bucket of Plan B.) because these months have been riddled with moments where it just feels like life is absolutely spiraling out of control.
But I know that it’s unfolding exactly how God intended. Even when it hurts. Or when it feels like it’s too much. Or when it really, really ticks me off.
It doesn’t matter.
I know that every single one of us has each been given a unique story – written with perfect love – long before we ever came to be. I know there are times meant for both ease AND for suffering. I’ve experienced and accepted both for myself and have actually dragged many of you along with me as I’ve publicly tripped my way through this very muck over these last few years. Thank you for that, by the way.
But I’m realizing now that it’s far more difficult for me when it’s dealing with someone I love instead of myself. So. Much. More. Difficult.
Ouch again, God.
So, let me encourage you. If you’ve been called to walk (or witness) a difficult journey, know that it is not without purpose. God’s right there guiding you, loving you, and giving you something to say through it all. A story to tell. A testimony. It may be terrifying or tiresome, but just know that it’s always filled with unspeakable beauty.
Sometimes we can’t see that, though, until we let go of our wishes, stand back, and just watch God work.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
I’ve shared “Though You Slay Me” several times before and I do again here because it so echoes how I want to encourage you. John Piper speaks about halfway through the song and he talks about pain’s purpose with so much more eloquence than I ever could. This song has gotten me through many dark moments. Please take a moment to listen and be soothed through whatever you’re facing today.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)