I've been both wanting to blog and avoiding it at the same time.
My avoidance comes from home distractions (a "minor" remodel which has left my piano on the porch, couch in the garage, and cookie sheets in the laundry room), work distractions (dealing with a burst pipe at my employer's home) and family distractions (3 birthdays, one anniversary, an upcoming wedding, my brother's graduation from grad school, my dad's retirement). And then there's the inevitable mind-wandering of unspoken desires and heartache. Things I long to hold close and things I want to push far, far away. Stuff that's hard to comprehend, let alone put to words.
My friend Haley, age 20, was recently diagnosed with cancer. What began as a trip to the ER due to excruciating pain, continues as a battle with stage 2 diffused B-cell lymphoma.
First they found a tumor.
It wasn't cancerous, but the tissue around it was. (wouldn't have found the cancer without the pain from the tumor)
A near hysterectomy.
A break from chemo to replenish white blood cells.
Paper chains to count down the days of chemo, milkshakes, smoothies, daffodils, and naming her uterus "Ursula" are all I can offer her to show her that she's not alone. And dearly loved. I am mustering up all the words I have to pray for her healing, and I come up short. My throat closes and my eyes water. Believing God can still heal my friend and wondering why He hasn't... yet.
But these things don't take away her present cancer reality. The haunting fear of the unknown. The nausea and fatigue.
I/we are choosing to believe that God is still good in the midst of her pain and suffering. Maybe the more we cling to that these truths, the easier they will be to believe?
I still have to choose to believe God is good when I look at the ocean, since the ocean is what took my friend Karissa's life nearly 8 years ago. She went wading during an college RA retreat and never came back. I'm not sure I've ever been so in awe of the power and mystery of the ocean. To this day, I stand at the water's edge, inhale the salty air and say aloud: "God, You are still good."
When Haley first told me about a girl she met in the cancer ward, I remember saying "hellooo, opportunity!" (Take a moment to read about Sheraya here.)
And now, after reading about the bittersweet ending (which is also the beginning) of that friendship, I glimpse God's obvious hand in Haley's diagnosis. I read Haley's updated blog in my car, searching everywhere for kleenex and emergency napkins in my console. I resorted to using my sleeve while I wept. Tears of sadness mixed with joy flowed down my cheeks, accompanied by an unexplainable peace. (Read her account here, but not without tissues, or at least a sleeve.)
Gungor's song "Beautiful Things" began playing in my mind after I read Haley's account of her friend's "move."
Haley, God has made and IS making beautiful things out of you. Just like He did with Sheraya's frail, leukemia-ridden body. She finally has a home and a Father. She's been made new and I know you'll meet again at heaven's gate when you hear "well done, good and faithful servant."
Let us stand at the ocean's edge together, drinking in the salty air, heavy-laden in our pain, proclaiming God's goodness.
Because He is still good.