Kara’s Collection: Radiation

From an article originally posted April 22, 2013

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
— Psalm 84

My dear Jen Whipple sent me this Psalm last week. As I face hard day after hard day, I brush near to the valley of the shadow of death. I see how little this world holds. My sweet faces of those I love hold me here cause me to not long for Heaven. But this world and its expectations are fallen. Driving down the road, one can see the ugly of commercial, the want for our dollars without care for our hearts. The pull towards want is great with little care for the eternal need for our souls.

Radiation is difficult. Please don’t tell someone it isn’t. It certainly is a different hard than chemo. But the emotional drain of returning to treatment cannot be discounted. Where chemo was a team event, radiation is extremely lonely. The ladies situate you under the scary snort and run away. The machine feels scary, cold, fearsome to me. I try over and over to convince myself this is medicine, but it feels impossible. I feel as though I’m being destroyed.

Everyday my dear friend, the Pastor of Care at Village 7 Presbyterian, meets me before my treatment and prays for me after. He grieves with me over the length of this treatment. He puts me in my car with a sigh and a prayer and a promise to meet me the next day. This is his job, but more than that it’s his calling. He’s helping me carry this load. He is helping me heft this heavy weight to Jesus. He is exactly the team I need. Jason fights this battle with me by trudging through the morning routine alone. He loves me by brushing teeth, packing lunches, watching the clock, signing permission slips, fighting for patience with our slow movers. He’s managing his own grief over my cancer. He’s managing the expectations of a own great need and inadequacy. He’s leading in the amazing strength of his brokenness.

I will say in the battle to live it is hard to extend grace to the complaints of others. There have been moments in this journey I have to ask myself how I’m holding my face as I try and respond in gentleness to a complaining spirit. Hard is hard. It is. I’m realizing how sometimes we choose our hard with a critical spirit. That may not make sense. But as I look at this Psalm, David knew better was his eternal focus, than a thousand years anywhere else. To me, a longing for the eternal far outweighs getting what we want.

Where is your heart today? Where is your strength coming from this day? Are you sitting in the misery of unmet expectations and failing to raise your eyes heavenward? I’m struggling to find joy in the midst of radiation. Carl meeting me in that place and walking with me has been a gift, a grace gift. I haven’t taken hold of joy in the midst of this pain, but I’m pushing toward it. I must admit I sometimes wallow in my weary and fail to take hold of Jesus. I resent happy people minimizing hard.

So, I bring on my own weary. But guess what—Jesus meets me and loves me in that place. So as I’m met in that place of unmet expectations, so are those that cross my path. Law me, we all need such grace, don’t we? We are all weary complainers failing to take hold of the gifts for this day before us. Thank you, Jesus, for meeting me in my mess! And thank you, Jesus, for Team Tippetts. What a group rallying around us in this season.

Here is Carl on my first day of this awful, beautiful journey. I know he will be there on the last day. He gets to meet the joy as he has not been afraid to show up for the suffering. I remember my worst chemo treatment. I could not stop vomiting. Carl handed me vomit bucket after vomit bucket and held my hand.

Carl, I cannot wait to rejoice with you over this new life. I cannot wait to walk out of that radiation waiting room with you that last day.