Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Update #38 (sort of)

Today would have been Laura's 40th birthday.
If it had been up to me, we would be on a beach in Tahiti with our husbands, sipping on a yummy umbrella drink, celebrating this milestone.


I know that some of you may be thinking, "Is 'ugh' the best word you could come up with to describe how you feel about the fact that you’re not on a beach in Tahiti? That you’re not celebrating this day with her next to you? That you’re not hearing her laugh, that you’re not joking about the growing number of wrinkles on your faces, that you’re not listening to her reflect on the depth of God's goodness to her throughout her life?"

Ugh works.

You know why?  Because I feel as if I could just stop typing now and you would totally understand all that this little, hard-to-tightly-define word means.  Without even consulting Webster's Dictionary (which, by the way, does have this word in it!), you probably already know all that's contained in this one little word and how it almost perfectly reflects how I feel about the hardships of this journey, including not celebrating a birthday in the way that I would like.     

I want to be unbelievably honest with you that there is much about this journey that I don't like.  Don't like at all.  No one will convince me that walking the road I'm on isn't hard.  Yes, it may not be as hard as others' journeys. It may not be as hard your journey.  But it is hard. And costly. And painful. And lonely. And often frustrating.

It's hard to not have access to my best friend who knows me and who knows what it's like to have a diagnosis like I have.  It's hard to watch to her husband grieving his wife and adjusting his life to one that is without her.   It's hard to hang out with her children and know when, and to what degree, I should mention or share a story about their mom.   It's hard to have a summer of fun travels and memory-making moments with my family and not be wondering about the state of my own disease. 

And those just make up the tip of the iceberg.  I would be sobbing my way through this if I listed out all the things that are hard...the things that cause me to stand in the shower, with tears streaming down my face, looking up,  pleading with my Heavenly Father to make the road a little less dangerous. A little less treacherous. A little less painful.

And I don't share this with you because I want your pity, your sympathy, your encouragement.  I don't share this because these are new feelings or because I'm in a "bad" place, or because I'm in despair.  No; that's not why I'm sharing this with you.  I'm sharing this with you so that you, in no way, romanticize or simplify or question if I'm detached from reality when you read the crazy words that I'm about to say to you.  So that you don't think that I'm not being honest with you about the messiness of this journey, about the grief that rises up in unexpected moments, about the moments of anger or deep frustration that I have to work through. 

So what are those crazy words that I have to share with you?

Just this:  there is another side of the story. 
There is another side of the story. And that side wins out.

Tears, grief, frustration, pain, loneliness all are true of my life right now, but they, at the end of the day, don't win out.  
They don't get the final say as to who I am, as to what my life is all about, as to what it's all for.   
They didn't get the final say for Laura and they don't get the final say for me.

Oh they sometimes seem as if they're gaining the upper-hand, pulling ahead in the race, just about ready to kick the game-winning goal...
But. They. Don't. Win. Out.

God wins.
Each and every time. 

His truth wins out. 
His promises win out.
His comfort wins. His peace wins. His joy wins. His grace wins.

Toward the beginning of His ministry, Jesus went to the Temple and was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah to read aloud in the service. After He finished reading a portion of it, He made a bold, bold claim: He claimed that He was the One who fulfills perfectly that Scripture.   Here's what He read:

God's Spirit is on me; He's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, 
to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!" 
- (Luke 4:18-19 Message Translation)

On that day in the Temple, He claimed that He fulfilled those words and He proved it time and time again as He completed His ministry on earth.   And, guess what? He still proves it today.

Bold statement, Kristie.  How do you know that He still proves it true today? 

How I know is because...
I am a girl who sometimes is poor in spirit. 
I am a girl who sometimes feels imprisoned by the constraints of her disease, or even more, by her poor choices.
I am a girl who sometimes is blinded by what she sees (yes, I wrote that correctly).
I am a girl who sometimes feels burdened and battered.
I am a girl who sometimes feels as if God isn't acting .

Oh yes, I am a girl whose ears would have been intently listening to Jesus speak those words in the Temple that day.  Who would have immediately realized that He was speaking directly to her.  Who would have been waiting, with bated breath, to see if He was really able to fulfill all that He claimed He's able to do.

And praise Him that I am able to stand up, today, and say that He can and He does and He will, in full.  I am able to stand up and say there is another side to my story because - and only because - Jesus is who He promised to be and He does what He promised He could do. 

He is creating another side to my story. 
He is creating another ending to my story.

He is taking this poor, imprisoned, blind, burdened girl who questions God's actions/inactions at times and He is refreshing and renewing her. He is making her stand firm, knowing that she can bring her hard story to Him and hear Him say back to her:  
 I bring good news that your King, Kristie, has set, is setting and will set all things right.
I forgive you and I have already set you apart for purposes that are beyond you.
I give you eyes to see beyond the tangible and into the unseen. And I give you cause to trust Me when it still might be blurry to you.
I bring freedom for you to run, without burden, the race I've marked out for you.
And I am at work.  In countless, countless ways.  I will lift your head so that you see Me at work.  On your behalf.  For My glory.

Oh is a day where, if given the choice, I'd be celebrating 30 years of friendship with my 40 year old best friend.  And I absolutely hate the fact that that won't happen. And I won't apologize for that hate or ignore it or pretend it doesn't matter all that much to me.

It does. 
It matters a lot.

But I will also just as honestly declare that that is just part of my story. Part of Laura's story.
There is another side that is authored by and empowered by God.
And that part wins out.
Each and every time.

I hope you see how Christ's words to the people sitting in the temple that day are not just for girls like me, like Laur. But they are for you too.  And I hope that it changes things for you too.  Refreshes you.  Renews you.  Gives you hope and joy and peace and comfort.

So on this day, August 22, 2012, there is only one fitting thing left to say...

Happy Birthday, Laura. I love you.