“I actually miss it.” I said, probably a little too casually.
Her head cocked to the side as her furrowed brows conveyed her confusion. A tight smile ran across her lips as her mind reeled with the possibilities of how she had misheard me.
“No, really. I miss it.” I assured her.
They say that after you have a baby you forget about all of the physical agony your body just went through in the wake of basking in the joy of the new life before you. And although I can’t say this is 100% true, I can say with complete certainty that it’s worth it. And I would go back in time and do it again, both times, in a heartbeat. I’ll never forget how much it sucked, but I’ll always remember that it was worth it.
When I look back on my cancer journey, I feel quite the same way. Because even though there were so many tears and there was so much heartbreak and physical suffering, everything that happened was ultimately good. Even if not in the moment, it certainly lead to good. And I miss it.
When I was sick and facing death, I felt God more clearly than I even knew was possible. My relationship with Him was solid and easy. His words were clear and His depths seemed to have no end. I think back and envision our times together as a literal walk side by side in a lush and beautiful garden on a warm, breezy summer evening. Just the two of us. The soft, sweet grass squishing gently between my toes as I beamed with pride at the chance to walk with my Father. Side by side. Every time I think of it, this is the image in my head and I gasp a little every time I remember this feeling. So real. So close. So much love and intimacy.
And so fleeting.
And I hate that it’s over and I hate that it’s so hard now. I have to work so hard to find Him now. I know He’s here and I will not forget what has done for me. But I miss it. I so much miss that intimacy and connection. I know that even if I don’t get to experience that again in my life, although I yearn for it, that that has been just a glimpse of what is awaiting me when I pass. And I long for it, as weird as it might sound.
But I thank God for the fact that not only can I, with confidence, assure someone that He really does work for the good of those who love Him, but that I can look back and actually see where that has happened.
I was willing to die of it meant somehow that more people would find Him through my death than through my living. And I still mean that. But I’ve actually gotten to witness first-hand the genuine love of the Lord gripping my children and I get to walk them through tough moments in their lives and I get to see them putting the pieces together of who Jesus is and why we need Him. I get the great privilege of serving in ministries where I can see Jesus working first hand. I’m not sure I could have looked at parenting or ministry with such a God-centered urgency without cancer being a pressure on me to do so. And I thank God for this every day.
Although I’m thrilled to still be here, it was never my goal to survive cancer. Maybe I was pessimistic or maybe just realistic, but there was a point where, medically, survival wasn’t in the cards and I accepted that. I wish I could say I had a fighter’s fire within me that just wasn’t going to give up, but that just isn’t true. Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate when people say they’ve found strength because of my story. That to me is such a blessing and I’m so glad for it. But when it came down to it, I’ve never in my life been someone who people would describe as particularly brave or courageous. Any strength that I may have projected came only from God. It was in my illness that I finally understood what God meant when He said that in our weaknesses is where He shows His strength! I am, and I say this without fishing for compliments, literally as ordinary as they come. I am awkward and self-conscious and just completely and painfully average.
But yet somehow through my circumstances, God was able to reach people and draw them to Him. I’m still in awe that I was able to play any small part in the growth and cultivation of anyone’s faith. It’s beyond anything I could have dreamed of.
But a few months ago I began to feel like a hypocrite trying to comfort people in the depths of their pain when I was no longer at a place of physically suffering on that level. And I had something, at least for the time being, that I couldn’t assure them they would have. I had life. I had clear scans and improving health. I had a second chance and I knew that wasn’t anything I could in good conscience give people hope for. That wouldn’t be fair or honest. So I stopped writing for the time being and focused on the relationships right in front of me and how to best serve Jesus in a more hands-on way. Not I’ve ever been hands-off in ministry, this is just where I felt God leading.
This is something I’ve said from the beginning with this blogging stuff: I don’t want to give people false hope. There is no hope in medicine, doctors, treatments, holistic stuff, any of that. All of that can and will, at one point, fail us. There is hope only in the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ. That will never change and His grace will never fail us. I never wanted to give people false hope and I felt that as a stage 4 melanoma survivor who is doing, well, fine, my continued blogging would do just that. Do I want that for them? More than anything! But I can’t give false hope.
I don’t say this to be coldhearted but honest. I pray for people to be healed and I desperately want that for people who are suffering but I just never found hope in that. Hope comes from knowing Jesus is who He says He is and did for us what He said He’s done. God doesn’t change or fail us or leave us. He may allow suffering but if we embrace it and try to use it, it will be used for good.
I’m just lucky enough somehow to be able to have been around long enough to see some of this good happening. I’m so appreciative of people who have shared with me how my story has helped them or a loved one. And because of that I am much more conscious about telling people how much I appreciate them and how much their stories have helped me.
It was just so beautiful. It was simple. It was clear and fresh and everything good.
And I miss that.
But wow am I glad to still be here.