Whirlwind of emotions. That is what the past three hours have been. My iPhone calendar told me it was a day void of appointments, distractions, or to-dos (except for buying Jordan almonds and crackers for an upcoming trip). Sounded simple to me.
Backing up a bit.....I spent the day yesterday with my adorable 14 year old eating wings (blek!), shopping for socks, and getting him a much needed haircut. Before we hit the mall, I ran into the Christian bookstore to find a good book for my trip. I, of course, got sucked into the rows of catchy titles and tag lines that hook me at first breath. Should I go with a light fiction, an old favorite? Then I saw it....the title the hardest peace by Kara Tippetts. It was the one- never heard of her or seen the book but the back described a mom battling cancer. Since I lost a close friend to cancer 2 1/2 years ago, I always seek out reading more about walking through cancer with other people I know who are sick. I picked it up and walked out, joined my son who was sitting in my running car blaring the air conditioner and classical guitar. We were off on the sock hunt.
I did not think much about the book- the afternoon got busy and there were 20 inch trout to be seen in the cooler after a boy's fishing excursion that day and later to be enjoyed at the dinner table. There were friends to come by bearing gifts for my precious children in Haiti, and just-like-daughters to be hugged and encouraged. Just a normal Sunday afternoon.
After everyone went to bed and the house was eerily still, I picked up the book to look it over. I was ready to dig in and hear how she had kicked cancer's butt and was now encouraging everyone around her to fight the good fight. That was the story line that fit in my little, limited box of perfect reading. The box- tied with a big burlap bow and a little vintage bird ornament attached. That was my box. And God and this book and the rest of my life needed to all fit in that well adorned package. Period.
After about 10 minutes of skimming, I put down the book and suddenly out of what seemed to be NOWHERE, this burning, yet cold sensation spread all over my body and I started to panic- I am going to die one day. And worse, my kids are going to die. I birthed them for LIFE and one day they will die. I prayed I was never around to see them leave this earth. Then I was enveloped in another round of gut-wrenching fear...I thought if my husband died, I would be ALONE, missing the absolute love of my life, getting parenting all wrong, and not even know where he kept my passport or how to book tickets to go to Haiti. OK- THAT did not fit into my box. YUCK. SUPER YUCK.
As the panic subsided, I drifted off to sleep. Then this morning I awoke, listened to the same fish stories again that never get old, and sat with my cup of coffee and the local news show. Last night's experience was not fresh in my mind because I was only on coffee cup #1 1/2 and no clear thoughts come until after coffee cup #2 is indulged. I then open my Facebook and there in front of me is: HOMECOMING...Kara Tippets dies on March 22, 2015. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? The day I buy the book, skim it, have this extreme fear of dying experience? I am undone. The story was not supposed to end like this. I am crushed to lose someone I only "knew" for 12 hours.
So I spent part of the morning chatting on the couch with a sweet friend, Lynn, and told her about buying the book, seeing the post, etc. She started reading the blog aloud- I had only made it past the fact that she had died. One excerpt said:
"As the cancer spread, Kara courageously embraced her situation, trusting in a Sovereign God. She believed that cancer was not the point, but Jesus was; how she responded and trusted Christ in the midst of this hard was where she would find Grace."
She sounded just like my friend, Kristen, who lost her fight to cancer- courageous and brave. Lynn, Kristen's mom,and I had a moment of silence, reminded that we miss Kristen, who lived courageously and died courageously. Then Lynn left so I could get at least a few clothes put away and bags packed. I plugged in my new speaker and hooked up my iPhone. I started to play my new playlist and the first song is "You Make Me Brave." I was busying myself with the laundry and the morning's sticky counters and I suddenly just fell into a heap on my bed.....again undone. The fear of dying episode from last night finally came flooding back to me. I screamed in my head, "GOD! I am not brave! I am not brave like Kara or Kristen! I am scared and frail and a big mess!" I weeped and cried for a few minutes. I then picked up my limp body with red, blotchy eyes and smudged glasses, and walked to my computer with a mission and started writing this blog. I like to write before I have a clue what something means. It helps me and I hope it helps you know you are not alone with the world of ANSWER VOID.....and still with no answers.
I love Jesus.....like REALLY love Him. I pray. I read. I serve. I love (the best I know how). And I am still not brave. WHY? What is wrong with me? I love life- I don't want to leave.
I know that eternity is perfect, beautiful and forever. But what about....and I start listing off all the names of people who I am convinced NEED me.
So what do I do now? Pray Scripture to wipe away the fear? Done that. I feel like crap that somehow Scripture did not fix me. What does that say about my faith? Self condemnation starts to heap itself on my shoulders. I am a Jesus following failure. Everyone else gets it but me. Shame. Guilt. I try to put the brakes on that train that is headed nowhere very quickly. I decide 3 things that are all I know right now:
God will honor honesty- we fear talking about death and we fear worse that we are Christians who fear death in the first place.
God will grow me- and if I stay connected to Him I will get a little braver as time goes on.
God will love me through my brokenness- He loves when we are desperate and we will turn to Him instead of hiding in distractions. Busyness is the biggest killer of maintaining relationships, dreaming big dreams, and creating a life of purpose.
There is no cool ending to this blog. Nothing in a cute little box with a burlap bow and vintage bird ornament on top. But I know that I WANT to be brave....and I think that is a great place to start.