We go to end of the year celebrations, swim meets and we camp. We take walks, go to birthday parties and eat shrimp & fries at Rhineharts where my oldest girl brings us water with extra lemon and brings our meal with extra tartar sauce. We spend days poolside, go to the library and treasure hunt at yard sales on Saturday mornings. And yes, we have trees fall on our house, have cars totaled and have gone through the ripping apart of our family. But, every time I am sent a notification from CaringBridge about Kate McRae, I am reminded again what I don’t have.
I don’t know Kate or her family. I’m not exactly sure how I heard about her story. I’m sure I was doing some blog reading, saw a button and went to her page to read her story.
She’s a beautiful child … who has been fighting this fight – against cancer – since the end of June, 2009. And she is still fighting. (Here is her CaringBridge site: Kate McRae). This fight … began with tremors. I can’t imagine what her family is going through. I can’t fathom the amount of courage that it must take … just to live day by day. But, I read. And I pray.
And, to be honest, I don’t want to read any more.
It’s just too difficult.
But, I read anyway.
I have notifications sent to my email box.
I see them.
I click them.
I read for LeighAnn and Nathan. (Nathan’s CaringBridge site is here) I read because LeighAnn put it so well when I ran into her one day. She said,
“Sometimes I want to say, ‘Lord, I just can’t take it any more.
I just want to quit. Then I remember …. quitting is not an option.'”
I don’t have cancer. I don’t have tremendous turmoil in my life. I am not oppressed. I am not in jail. I am not abused. I am not close to losing my home or my car or my children. I am not naked, or thirsty or hungry. I am not alone. I am not unloved.
Recently, I got a note from a friend. He wrote:
“Oh, drama follows my daughter where ever she goes. Her basketball team left at 10:30 this morning for basketball camp at Lee University in Cleveland, Tn. The bus had a tire blowout on I-285 near perimeter mall. Just another day in paradise for the Smith family.”
I couldn’t respond.
What could I say?
Because what I WANTED to say … would have taken me pages.
He is a man with an excellent job that he has held for years, three wonderful grown children and a wife of many years. They have a home, vehicles that run and food to eat. What do they NOT have?
Well, they don’t have cancer. They don’t have tremendous turmoil in my life. They are not oppressed. They are not in jail. They are not abused. They are not close to losing their home or cars or children. They are not naked, or thirsty or hungry. They are not alone. They are not unloved.
Sometimes, people will say something to me or around me and I don’t respond. Last summer, I noticed that a sweet friend of mine kept telling her children to “go play” so she could talk. She was pushing them away. She’s FUN! She’s FUNNY! Children and adults alike are drawn to her. They want to be around her. But, she was shooing them to “go play” so that she could talk to other people. I want to grab her by the shoulders and tell her, “NO! Don’t send those little ones away. Soon … very soon … they’ll be ‘over there’ and they won’t want to come beside you, talk to you, listen to you … because you have spent a decade sending them away.” She loves my big kids and has mentioned how much we enjoy each other. I want to tell her …. she’s “shooing” that away in her own life. I still haven’t spoken to her about it. I will say something … I just don’t know when. I am preparing. And I have prayed for God’s timing … that I would know “now is the time.”
Another friend and I had a misunderstanding. More than once I’ve been slow to respond. I don’t just jot a note … I tend to write a book. Sometimes it’s hard to wrote those “books.” It takes me time to process and think things through. Because, words are a gift. We must use them well and carefully. I wouldn’t want my “gift” to injure. I must choose carefully. I am passionate. I tend to jump in!! I pour myself out! Sometimes … I am too forceful. I injure. I hurt. I HATE that. I never want to wound … with words or actions. ever.
Then another friend wrote me a note about his struggling marriage. I know what he is thinking: things will be better if he leaves. What the hell? How do these men think this? How is this happening!!?? I sigh. I want to scream. I want to shake him. I want to stand on a podium with my fist in the air …. kneel down before him and cry …. and pull the broken hearts of my children out of their chests to show them to him. I want to paint a picture of what could be with words, analogies and metaphors. I want to jump and twirl and talk of the future. I want to help him form the image of what COULD be that would include all of his family … together … under one roof. I want to challenge him to do the HARD, DIFFICULT, EXHAUSTING thing. NO! IT’S NOT EASY! But, it is what is right and true and noble. It is what is honest and honorable. But, I can’t find the words. Not yet. But, I will.
And so, sometimes, I think about crickets. You know … how it comes to the part of a movie or tv show where something awkward happens … and there is silence …. except for the crickets in the background. That’s what I think about … when I want to say something … but I don’t know how to say it.
And so, to my friend … my friend with a family of drama. Life is full of drama. Drama is a good thing. It draws us closer to God, IF we allow it to do so. Don’t be discouraged. Use every little thing as a reminder that God is in control. He is there. He wants you to need Him. He wants you to look for Him. He’s giving you reasons to turn to Him.
And …. is this “thing” – whatever it is – truly drama? Is it so bad? Like a blown out tire? Whatever it is … is it so bad? In the perspective of all the trials and struggles and pain going on in this fallen, broken world …. is it so bad?
Things happen. It’s okay. Don’t look at the “things,” look up. It’s all in your perspective.
In fact, may I ask you, my friend, to read this blog post from a few years ago called PERSPECTIVE? I think I said it best here.
Because, my friend, Mr. Smith, it’s just a blown tire. It’ll be okay.