February 3, 2021
I realize I’m sharing two posts in one day, but I wrote them a week apart.
I’ve discovered recently that I have a tendency to bury my feelings. I don’t like feeling sad or upset, so I tend to move right on past those feelings to start re-framing. I’m all too ready to start helping myself and everyone else see all of the wonderful, beautiful things about the current, albeit, challenging situation. “This is okay, actually even better because…” “Here’s why this is so amazing…” and so on and so on. I’m not saying that this re-framing is always a bad thing, but if I’m not careful, I can move there too quickly.
In his book, Hope in the Dark, Craig Groeschel says “But when we really retreat and refuse to feel the pain of our disappointment, then we’re not REALLY trusting him (God). We’re using him. And maybe missing greater opportunities for growth. Peaks are nice, but you don’t see many farms on mountaintops. Why? Because things grow better in valleys. Your time in the valley might not be pleasant, but it’s in the valleys of life that you grow closer to God and stronger in your faith.”
I’d also add that when we don’t feel the pain of our disappointment, we miss out on the joy of seeing how God will redeem it. Steven Curtis Chapman (Hello, 90’s Contemporary Christian Music!) wrote “there’s no one more thankful to sit at the table than the one who best remembers hunger’s pain.”
So, with the help of a great counselor, I’m trying really hard to work through being diagnosed with a brain tumor. I’m trying to do it better. Better than the “me” a year of ago. What I know now is that doing it better means making space for feeling the hurt, sadness, fear and disappointment.
But it hurts…like, physically, it hurts. And after spending two weeks on the verge of tears almost constantly, I am exhausted… and honestly wondering…is this really better?
This morning on the way to work, I downloaded an app called Glorify. It’s a devotional app that reads you a passage of scripture, a devotional, and then guides you through a time of prayer. The passage was from Philippians 4:4-8, but I was fixed on verses 6 and 7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
As I listened to the devotional, the reader began describing prayer as a kind of pressure release valve for all of the fear, anxiety and worry we feel. It was a powerful word picture that was absolutely spot on.
For the past two weeks, my heart and mind have been like a pressure cooker, filling with worry and fear, bubbling closer and closer to the top, until I almost can’t breathe. I don’t know how long I can do this.
Because there’s been no (or very little) release.
Is it possible that in my focused efforts to sit in and experience my feelings I’ve forgotten to pray and ask God to take it and give me His peace instead? I’ve had several friends and family pray with me, but I’m talking about more than that.
I’m talking about a real conversation between God and me. A transactional conversation. But I don’t really want a fair trade.
I’m looking for something more like “Here’s my fear and worry, God. Could you pass the peace, please? Seriously, I’ve got buckets full of worst-case scenarios over here. And you’ve got an ocean full of peace that’s beyond understanding. Could we really trade?”
How is it possible that I’ve spent the last 2 weeks terrified about this brain tumor but haven’t really given it to God?? What kind of lousy Christian am I? What is happening to me?
I think this is what growth looks like. It’s like learning how to ride a bike. You have to learn to steer. And you have to learn how to pedal. And you have to learn how to use the brakes. And then eventually you have to learn to do all of them at the same time. But it takes time.
I want to learn to feel the weight of my fear and worry. But not as an end in itself. I want to feel the weight of it so I can truly appreciate the relief and the joy that comes from giving it up.
Here’s how you can pray:
- Pray we can get a virtual appointment with the surgeon at UCSD. We need to get a second opinion and have heard great things about this guy. At that point, we feel like we’ll have enough information to make a plan.
- Pray God gives us clear direction. There are A LOT of decisions to be made and that feels really stressful. We could wait and watch, getting MRI’s every 6 months. We could do surgery now. We could do it in a year. And then there’s the question of who and where. We want to make a wise choice!
- This weekend is Kate’s birthday and we have some fun surprises planned. Please pray that I can put all of the “tumor thoughts” in a box for a few days and really focus on her. There’s nothing we can do to change anything in the next few days, so I’m praying I can be present with her and not be distracted.