I found a bald spot yesterday. Actually, I didn’t find it, my husband did. A stupid, not-so-subtle reminder of the battle that just doesn’t seem to go away. I refused to look at it, hoping maybe if I ignored it long enough it would disappear. It didn’t. Kyle said, “let’s go look together, it’ll be easier that way.” Nope. I didn’t want to see that mess and be reminded of laying on the radiation bed, head stuck in that nasty rubbery mask, trying so hard to stay with Jesus instead of letting my thoughts go rabid.
I sat on the couch, head pressed into my hands, my husband rubbing my back, telling me it was ok and it wasn’t even noticeable. I felt my eyes well up with tears and in that moment, I knew I had a choice. It was a crossroad, as is so many moments in this journey beating cancer. In one ear is the voice of self-pity, shame, and anger, threatening my existence with whispering lies. And in the other, a sweet, kind yet firm voice offers an invitation.
Most Christians–and most unbelievers–think that acknowledging God means that we must either deny the existence of pain and suffering or attribute it to God, using an umbrella “all part of God’s plan” theology. Pain or darkness comes and suddenly, we’re fighting for air, doing everything in our power to see glimpses of hope in what seems like complete desolation. This quicksand of darkness is enveloping and if we’re not careful, we’ll enter into a place of striving, operating as a slave instead of a son, begging for God to show up and rescue us. What most of us don’t realize, though, and what has taken me years to understand is that in those moments when your stomach is in knots and you feel like your heart is going to pop out of your chest, when the world seems to be caving in and hope is falling through your fingers like the finest sand, Papa is there. He’s there–here–letting me feel what I need to feel, ready to take me by the hand and lead me and my mess to a place where peace reigns. I always think that I have to get there by myself, that He has to wait for me to find the strength within myself and then He will come when in fact, it’s just the opposite.
Understanding this has completely changed the way I am able to deal with cancer. I face it head on but it doesn’t mean that I never feel. In fact, it’s because I feel that I am able to be ok and walk boldly in truth. For me, the reality of what I feel has become a veil that I must pass through–with Jesus– in order to receive the truth of who He is. Ignoring what I feel simply creates pieces of myself that stay isolated from Jesus and over time, gain influence into my mind and spirit.
I often remind myself that even Jesus himself wept. How certain he must have been of the plan set before him and more so, of the Father’s love for him but never did his confidence require the absence of his emotion. If it’s ok for Jesus, it must be ok for me.
And so, when I was sitting on the couch, head in my hands, listening to my husband’s voice, experiencing the sadness of losing a patch of hair and the fear of losing more, I now had a choice. I could turn to the voice that feeds those emotions or I could turn to the voice that offers an invitation out. However, in order to accept that invitation and proceed toward freedom, we must allow Jesus to take us by the hand and together, acknowledge and experience what is right in front of us. Often times, it is messy, ugly, embarrassing, revealing, and painful but how glorious it is in the moment you pass through and suddenly, truth and freedom arrive.
If you find yourself in a moment like this, I encourage you to stop fighting. Breathe. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. Breathe again. Still your mind until you hear Papa’s voice, soft yet firm, ready and waiting to take you by the hand to lead you to freedom. I promise, it’s worth it and better than you could ever imagine.