When Nothing Else Could Help

Gentle Reader,

My mind can’t make anything compute right now. It’s totally, completely bizarre to me that normal life continues on when I’ve got this major thing happening. I wake up, I go to work, I spend time with friends and family. On Saturday, I got to go shopping with my mom and I got to see a play. I plan menus and make grocery lists. (Well, okay, I assist Chris in those tasks). I empty the dishwasher and fold laundry.

And all the while I’m thinking about the thing.

My surgeon called Friday afternoon and told me that no biopsy is necessary. He is confident that the tumor is benign and wants to proceed with removal. One of the schedulers from his office is supposed to call me this afternoon or tomorrow. I’ll have dates and timelines. It’ll be 3-5 days in December. Days of pain pumps and refusing to eat Jell-O.

The tumor – a dear friend and her daughters helped me name it: Skolops (the Greek for “thorn in the flesh” as found in 2 Corinthians 12:7) “Boobies” McFartstein; we were feeling silly that day – is hanging out way up high, near my right lung, so it’s a challenging procedure. They’ll slice me open and use this spatula-like thing to hoist my ribs out of the way. They’ll take out some healthy liver along with Skolops and the area he’s affected. Then they’ll sew me back together, wrap me up tightly and send me off to a room reeking of disinfectant.

The freaking out began Saturday night.

I started dwelling. This is rarely a good thing, especially in the wee, dark hours. Everything seems bleak and hopeless.

What if it turns out to be cancer after all? What if I have to have a second surgery? What if something goes wrong and I die on the operating table? What if I can’t handle the pain? What if I’m in the hospital longer than expected? What if we can’t pay our bills? What if we lose the house? What if I’m not up to going back to work when I’m supposed to? What if I fall when I’m at home by myself and can’t get to the phone?

Even after examining all the questions rationally, I still feel scared. And sad. Being scared makes sense to me because we’re all scared of the unknown and of things we can’t control. But I don’t understand the sad. I don’t understand why I want to cry. Why I am crying as I write this.

So when we sang these words at church yesterday, my conviction that God is intimately involved in our lives deepened, because they were words I desperately needed to hear. He soothes us in our wailing before we even know to ask for it:

“Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!” - James Rowe & Howard Smith

The hymn is centered on salvation, how it is Jesus alone who can make us right. That is so beautifully true, but, right now, the words bring something else to my mind:

“…the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.”

Like Peter, I chose to step out of the boat. I chose to trust rather than fear those long six months ago. I have struggled to keep my eyes on Christ. The waves have grown higher and the sky darker. The lightning flashes and the thunder rolls. Everything is amplified and so frightening. I take in the surroundings and lose sight of His face.

I slip beneath the water.

He is there immediately. He lifts me with complete ease.

He asks me the same question He asked the apostle: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

There is no anger in His voice. The question is not meant to push me toward self-loathing. It is a reminder. Jesus has never failed me. Not once. He is with me now. He will be with me in the operating room. He will hold my head in His lap and speak peace into the secret places of my heart, the places only He and I know about. He will be there when the anesthesia wears off and I’m hit with the first, intense, vomit-inducing wave of pain. As the lines of the children’s prayer affirm, He will “watch and keep me.”

Whatever comes, Love will lift me.

Grace and peace along the way.

Five Minute Friday: Still

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Gentle Reader,

Hanging out with Kate and the gang. We are: still.

Go.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

And God.

Definitely God.

The two came together today in a sweet way. I was feeling discouraged and weary after my appointment with the surgical oncologist yesterday. He said that I need to have a biopsy, which means more waiting. I’m still going to have surgery, but the biopsy will determine what kind of surgery. As in, whether they will remove just the tumor or remove up to half of my liver.

Yeah.

I wanted so much to come out of the appointment with an action plan. I wanted dates and timelines. I wanted the operating theater booked.

Instead I’m waiting for a phone call from another doctor who’ll do the biopsy. And then I’ll wait for results. And then I’ll wait for the surgery.

This road has been so long. I made a decision months ago to trust God in this process, and I’m not wavering in that. I know He has a good plan for me. I know He’ll take care of me. But I’m tired. I’m ready to move on.

I prayed today (while in the staff bathroom, as one does when at work) and asked God to give me strength. I asked Him to lift me out of my discouragement and enable me to see joy. I asked Him to help me choose all that is positive and good.

When I got back to my desk, I found a little present and a lovely note from my coworker. Chocolate because it makes everything better and bubbles to ease the anxiety.

And God whispered into my heart, “I’m still here.”

Stop.

I am a wealthy woman. I really am. Everyone in my life has been incredibly supportive during this journey, and especially the last few weeks, the weeks of MRIs and oncologists. I’ve been cheered with inside jokes, heartened by good conversations, blessed through anointing and corporate prayer at church. Yes, I am tired. I am ready for this chapter to close. But God is with me. He still sees me. He still hears me. He has not given up.

So neither will I.

Grace and peace along the way.

Never Once

Gentle Reader,

According to my self-imposed little schedule, I’m supposed to post today.

But I don’t really have anything to say. Maybe the rhinovirus has taken it out of me. So, instead of words, I give you song. Soak in its truth.

Grace and peace along the way.