For those of you who have emailed me to see if you missed an update, you have not. My apologies for not updating you sooner. I would love to tell you that I haven't written because not much has changed in my medical situation (which is true at this 9 am hour). Or, I'd love to tell you that I haven't written because I haven't had the time to write. But the truth is that - while I'm certainly not sitting around and twiddling my thumbs - I haven't made the time to write. Oh I've thought about it; in fact, virtually every day for the past month, I have thought about providing an update. And after about 15 days or so of waking up and saying to myself, "Today, I will let people know what's going on" and then not choosing to do that, the light bulb went off and I started to ask myself why that was.
I think I've figured it out.
You'll be surprised when I tell you. In fact, you'll be so surprised that you'll think that I have an advanced degree in wisdom when I tell you.
Why I haven't wanted to write is because I don't want to be a cancer patient.
Shocking to anyone? Probably not. Are you saying to yourself, "Wow. She's really insightful. Never saw that one coming." Okay, I get it;. It sounds like a "duh" statement. But it was a pretty powerful moment for me so let me take a second to share a bit more about what I mean by it.
I could literally spend all day being a cancer patient. And I don't mean that in a bad way. By "being a cancer patient" I don't mean that I could spend all day going to the doctor, researching medical stuff, wallowing in the hardship of this - being fearful, being sad, being depressed or anxious or focused solely on the aches and pains. No, that's not it (although I do have some of those moments!). Rather, it means that I could spend all my waking minutes, outside of being a wife and a mother, in front of my computer both responding to the hundreds of emails of encouragement from you all (THAT I LOVE TO RECEIVE!) or writing about the many cool God moments - as well as some of the heart-wrenchingly hard moments - of this journey in the hopes that you will get a both a deeper glimpse of the Lord as well as perhaps some insight into what it's like to navigate the many challenges of living with disease.
But, I haven't done that. And, up until last night, what I'd been telling myself is that I can't do that because I'm way more than a cancer patient. Cancer doesn't define me. And that's true and it's wonderful to know that, despite my illness, God hasn't released me from the things that He called me to do before finding out about the return of my cancer. I'm still a bible study leader for a couple of groups, I'm still a volunteer for On the Job Ministries in the city of Buffalo, I'm still a neighbor, a non-participating PTO mom, a new puppy owner, a mini-van driving chick with a blonde pony tail that's a bit too long for her 38 years of life. I've told myself that I can't live as a cancer patient because I'm more than a cancer patient.
See how good I can make it sound? Sounds like a perfectly good way of looking at my situation, right? Perhaps even a godly way of looking at my situation?
Right. But also wrong. Because by stopping at this "logic", I also stopped before I hit an underlying truth: I don't want to be a cancer patient. I would much rather look normal, feel normal, act normal. I would much rather hear about your troubles and share the hope of Christ with you than to have you listen to my troubles. I would much rather think of myself as a girl whose bones ache and who cannot run than a girl who has a very, very serious illness.
But, the problem is that even though I don't want to be a cancer patient, I am a cancer patient. At least for today.
In my heart of hearts, of course I know this. I have thoughts and prayers that are all centered on this very aspect of me. But I think where it's most impacted me is that I don't really want YOU to think of me as "Kristie, the cancer patient." Oh, I know, you'll say to me in your replies..."I don't think of you as that." But I don't think you're being 100% truthful when you say that. I think that You, just like me, YOU don't want me to be a cancer patient either.
And I love you for that.
And such a huge part of me wants to keep it that way; after all, I am more than cancer.
But what I've realized in the last 24 hours is that I cannot run away from this title. It follows me wherever I go whether I want to name it or pay it any attention. And, in response, I have two choices today: (1) either deny it and live in this half-place of being a cancer patient, but hating every minute of it; or (2) embrace it. I choose the latter. Why?
Because (and here's the exciting and fabulous and hope-giving and joy-flowing news to which the corners of your mouth should begin to curl into a smile) if I don't embrace this title with two hands, I cannot fully give that title over to the Lord for Him to fully use it, fully be present in it, fully redeem it, and even fully heal it.
I don't think I'm alone in this. I know that most of you aren't in a battle against cancer, but some of you are battling a title that you wish you didn't have either. Tears flow down your face when you think of how much you wish your journey didn't include the stop that you're on. Your heart breaks. You mind dwells on the "I-wish-it-were-different" thoughts. Your spirit wrestles with God. Oh...how I know what this is like.
But perhaps my seemingly "duh" moment has also hit you and you realize that you've been doing everything about your unwanted title, but embracing it - not so you wallow in it and be defeated by it, but rather so that you can fully surrender it. Surrender it so that the power of the living God can work out His perfect purpose in it. Perhaps there's a need to lift your eyes to the Lord and say, "Father, for today, you have placed me here. I embrace this title that I haven't wanted to embrace. I embrace, Lord God, so that I can lay it at the feet of Jesus so He can both save me from it and redeem it for a purpose beyond what I can see. Today I embrace it so that I can, with both hands, place it at the foot of the Cross where You did the unfathomable for me...where you know what it felt like to have a task that required tears of blood in order to fully accomplish. You embraced your painful role as Savior so that I can be free to come boldly into the powerful presence of the Holy God - wholly loved and wholly accepted. Today, Lord God, today I surrender to you."
Ahh...it feels good to share this with you.
Love to you all,