Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Business of "Becoming"

Becoming who we are supposed to be ought to be easier it seems. Maybe it would have been if I had started earlier. But, for whatever reason, that’s not the plan. Besides, I wouldn’t be who I am without all of those years of “experience”. Most of the time, I believe that. Some days I think it’s just what we tell ourselves so that we can deal with all of the wasted time.

Either way, I had a wonderful revelation last week and I thought it was worthy of sharing in case someone else was in the “are we there yet?” mode of personal development. At our leadership conference at church last week we had the opportunity to hear from our pastor’s father. He’s a wonderful pastor himself. Dr Young is quite different from his son, but they are both master communicators. He spoke on our need to get focused on “becoming” instead of so much doing. In other words, once we become who we are supposed to be, the “doing” will take care of itself as the fruit that bears witness to the work God has done in our lives. I had never thought about this in exactly this way.

The example that he used to explain is one I love to examine. He used Paul. I love Paul’s story. He’s one of my very favorite characters of the Bible. How could you not love Paul’s story? Most of us love a good redemption story, and there is none better than Paul’s. Here’s a guy who actually persecuted/murdered Christians until the day that he was on his way to Damascus and Jesus appeared to him. He was blinded for 3 days, regained his sight, converted in a BIG way, and then eventually went on to write over half of the New Testament. Even Hollywood couldn’t think up a redemption story like that!

But, it wasn’t those events of his life that were news to me. The “a-ha” moment came in what isn’t included in the story that I’ve known for years. You see, apparently Paul failed miserably in converting other people immediately following his conversion. He was on fire, but very ineffective. Somehow I missed that part of the story. Turns out that somewhere between 13 and 18 years passed before that changed. That’s a lot of years!!

So, there were all of those years of preparation and development before he was ready to be used in the most incredible way. Even Paul had to “become” before he could do what he was created to do. Now, I have no misconception that my plan is a fraction of the plan that God had for Paul. I mean he brought the Gospel to the western world for goodness sakes. But the truth is that I don’t know what it is yet. I’m still in preparation mode.

My pastor says regularly that whatever we are going through, God is preparing us for what he has already prepared for us. Isn’t that cool? I’m like a child waiting for Christmas morning knowing the gift is so much better than anything I could ever imagine. So now I want to be about the business of “becoming” so that I can find out exactly what that is. I don’t know where it will take me or who I will encounter along the way, but I do know that I will be pleasantly surprised. I always am.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Terror in Troop 282

I still can’t believe how much of this experience is about hair. From diagnosis on, every stage has something to do with stinking hair! First you mourn the coming loss. Then, you shop for temporary hair, which turns out to redefine the word temporary for you. (It’s a lot longer than you think it’s going to be in the beginning.) Then you finish treatment, and begin the long wait of regrowth. The experience of losing your hair teaches you so much more than you ever wanted to know about your own value and definition of beauty. It’s a lesson I could have lived without, but I am better for the experience. Turns out that no matter how secure we fancy ourselves to be, the truth is something different entirely.

Somewhere in the middle of this experience, you become so much more comfortable with your loss of hair than other people are. This is a great place to arrive. It makes for all kinds of opportunities of laughter. In the beginning, I was so self-conscious about it. I was terrified that people could tell. I thought everyone was looking. It was completely obsessive! Now, look if you want. It’s making you a lot more uncomfortable than me. Of course, I say that with one possible exception. During the time that I was far too sick to do anything but make it to work and then spend my weekends in bed to recover, I had an unexpected encounter with a girl scout. I dare say she will remember it for the rest of her life…

It was a Saturday afternoon and as normal on Saturdays at the time, I was in bed. We had family in town for the weekend staying with either Michelle or Mom. I can’t remember who exactly. I mention this because none of the following events would have transpired if no one was in town. If we hadn’t had family in town, I would have never thought to answer the door because I don’t answer the door. If you come to my house without calling to ASK first, you won’t find anyone home. I might be home, but you will not find me there. As a single mom, that’s just being safety minded. The truth is that safety is just a by-product of training people to not drop in. I promise not to drop in on you, please do the same for me. (Yes Mom, I mean you, too.)

So, I’m in bed sound asleep on this Saturday afternoon around 4:00. All of a sudden, I hear a rather loud knock on the front door. Well, half expecting someone to walk in, I jumped out of bed to see who it was. Since I didn’t hear a key in the lock but saw someone standing there, I whipped open the door in a confused and groggy state. I was literally waking up during this whole thing. Much to my surprise, and hers, there stood a poor little girl scout. She was probably nine-ish if I were venturing a guess. Before she or I realized what was going on, she asked, “Would you like to buy some cookies?”

As the horror from what she was looking at washed across her face, I realized that in my haste to get to the door that I had grabbed neither a wig nor a hat. I had also taken a shower before the nap, but failed to remove my eye make-up from the day before. In my defense, I expected this to be family! So, here I stood in all my kiwi-like glory half asleep with huge black circles of yesterday’s make-up around my eyes terrifying some poor girl scout. Needless to say, she had the presence of mind to wish me well as she turned and ran away.

Add to that the fact that I had not opened my front door in months. (Neither had anyone else…) So, there were cob webs everywhere. It looked like the Adams family lived there, and Uncle Fester just answered the door! I wish I could have heard her tell it. She may never sell another cookie. But, who sells things door to door anymore? I bet she’ll think twice about it next time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coming Back to Life

They say that hindsight is 20/20. I’m not so sure about the 20/20 part, but it is clearer than recognizing where you are in the moment. I say this because I have just realized in the last week how sick I have truly been over the last few months. This is not really news to anyone but me. But, that’s me. I can’t remember recognizing any challenge in my life for what it was in the moment. It’s only after the fact that the realization hits home. I probably couldn’t have made it through as well as I did if I realized what I was up against. I have made it through some incredibly powerful poison.

Everyone knows chemo takes a toll on you. You just don’t realize how much until you go through it. I spoke with my breast surgeon’s nurse practitioner yesterday to schedule my follow-up. She asked how I was, and I told her how difficult it had been. She said something kind of profound. She said, “When you go through what you’ve been through, you have to decide what you’re going to show up for. And, it can’t be everything.” I wish someone had said exactly those words to me in the beginning. (Of course knowing me, it probably wouldn’t have helped.) But, that was it. It captured exactly what I had not been able to put into words. I HAD to show up for work with very few exceptions during this time, and when that was done my tank was empty. There was nothing left for life or even Brayden on most days. I am so blessed to have such a strong and independent little man in the making. Oh, and there’s the Wii…Thank you, God for the Wii! It did wonders to entertain when I could not.

So, I counted and it’s actually been 7 months since my surgery as of next week. Wow! I guess I can honestly say that I have completed the most difficult 7 months of my life to date. I’d like to say they will be the most difficult that I will face in this lifetime, but I don’t make statements like that anymore.

I am marking the end of that time not because I am all better, but because I have decided that it’s finally time to begin coming back to life. I still can’t do most of the things that I used to. I went to our church’s leadership conference 3 evenings this past week. Just being able to walk from the car to the building at the expansive main campus after a full day of work is an incredible feat that involved a bunch of prayer. But, I did it! I spent all day Saturday recovering from it. (It was worth it, even if I did have to watch curling all afternoon.) What an amazing few evenings!

But, my greatest physical accomplishment since the end of chemo was Sunday after church. For the very first time since November I went grocery shopping for my very own groceries. Before now, I have been unable to do it because I couldn’t walk far enough to even make it to the milk, much less all around the store for the things I needed. Fortunately, Bird has been volunteering to do it for me. (That’s a great testimony for staying friends with your ex-husband…) So, we haven’t starved or anything.

It was probably the single best grocery shopping experience of my life. I say that because I have always detested grocery shopping. I love having a house full of groceries, but hate the shopping to get them part. It’s amazing what appreciation you can have for something you detest once you can no longer do it for yourself.

When I got to the store, I had not completely committed to a full grocery trip. When I made it to the milk without thinking about it, I decided to push through and cover the entire store. End to end I went and covered my entire mental list. When I got back to the car, buckled Brayden in, and pulled away I couldn’t believe what I had just done. It was then that I decided the time had come to rejoin the land of the living.

Today I actually chose to take the stairs at work for two different trips to other floors, down and up. I wouldn’t have even considered doing that a week ago. It was difficult. The second trip was more than I probably should have tried, but I did it. So, I am looking for that little opportunity each day to push myself a little further. One more step into recovery, into life.

Coming back to life feels good, physically and mentally. I am reminded daily to “give thanks in all things”, even if those things are the mundane ones like stocking up on groceries. So, I am attacking life again with the spirit of thanksgiving despite less than perfect circumstances. Because in the end, I have much more to give thanks for than to complain about.

©2009 80% Sporadic | by TNB