Kara’s Collection: Unexpected Anniversary

from an article originally posted July 23, 2014...

I woke beside my love, enjoyed my coffee, reading, editing, then I saw the calendar. Today—2 years ago—the words were spoken, I have received the pathology and you do, in fact, have breast cancer. I heard very little after those words were spoken. She went on to outline our battle plan, to show me the images, to tell me what was to come, but all those words became a blur after she confirmed my cancer.

I cannot emphasize how hard it is to let go of the story we imagine for ourselves and begin to embrace the present grace in the reality of what each of our lives hold. I still weep over the endless swallowing of pills. The pain and tears on not simply because of the battle I am facing. No, I believe the greatest pain is from the unexpected story I have been asked to receive. The story I have been gently asked to walk faithfully through, naming the graces, giving glory to the giver, and receiving my moments with gratitude. Some days it’s hard. Not because the story is hard; no, there is grace given to receive this story. The pain comes when I grieve what I wanted my life to look like. The pain comes in the letting go of what I expected life to be, and to begin to walk present in what my story is.

Honestly, there are days I don’t believe this is my story. When I have moments of strength, I want to scream, THIS IS ME! But it’s not that simple, is it?

I have been given the gift of 2 years in this battle. I’m not sure I expected these 2 years. So, there will be a time today when I quietly mouth thanksgiving to the giver of my days. They have been hard days, but there has been so much goodness mixed in with the hard, the pain, the battle. We have learned to capture life in the large and small moments given in grace each day.

I’m not sure how to feel about these last 2 years. They have been some of the best and hardest years of my life. The heights and the depths. How we have lived the heights and the depths.

We have never been granted a pause button in this. We have never had the moment to exhale and say, This is how I feel. We can express momentary feelings, but this walk with cancer—we simply move forward. We enjoy small moments as the giant moments they are. We enjoy discussing ministry, life, our children, love, and we share our current griefs as honestly as we are able to share. But we are called, daily called, to keep moving. There is such present grace for that moving. Kids still need to eat, have boundaries, play, discipline, snuggling, and wrestling. Westside is still a tender young church that needs encouragement, leadership, love, time, and how we love the calling to church planting. And the grace, the abundant grace to do ministry. We could never do it without God’s abiding. His beautiful abiding with us. Our marriage still needs intentional tending and careful care, our friendships still need love and encouragement. Our lives do not or have not ever stopped because of the calling to walk through cancer. So we simply move into each moment. Cancer cannot be the center. But it is certainly present.

So today I swallow the endless pills, I give thanks for these 2 years. I pray for more, more, more time. But I embrace today as the answer to the many prayers each of you pray for me to have more time. Today is an answer to those prayers. Jesus has be good to us, so good to us. This is not the life I expected, but that doesn’t mean it is not a beautiful life. No, my story has been made beautiful by another author. The only Author that knows what true beauty is. I am humbled to be given this story to walk in faithfully. Goodness, I fail, but the present grace given to take each step in is always generously given. And when I blow it with my grumpy attitude? Well, I am met in that edge with the grace to repent and receive endless forgiveness found in Jesus. It is enough; it is generous.

My life may not be written as I had dreamed, but that does not mean that it is not good. Hard is not the absence of God’s goodness. And those that would tell you it is haven’t looked deeply upon Jesus. They know little of his abiding grace, and simply think health and wealth are the only signs of the faithfulness of Jesus. That is a weak God, and simply not the truth of the gospel. Look closely how Jesus redeemed you. It isn’t pretty, but it is good. So good. Then why, oh why, do we grieve so deeply when our story is written in hard? Simply, we are weak. We long for comfort and easy. I’m the first one in that line. But cancer, and walking this hard, has taught me something better.

I have decided for the next bit to read and read and read again John 15. They are words I will never fully take in, but words that will feed me until my last moment. Join me, won’t you? Oh, blessed abiding. Do you know what it is to live in the Vine this day? Do you have the peace of abiding love?

All pictures provided by my lovely Jen.