Just a little note for those of you who don’t know what’s going on…Chris began experiencing severe back pain in early July. An MRI showed that there is a mystery mass on his upper vertebra (T3-T4) that he had biopsied last week. The mass has since created pressure on the nerves that control from his chest down and therefor numbness in his legs and feet and he is unable to stand or walk on his own without me to hold onto or something solid nearby. We will find out the biopsy results on Tuesday next week and will finally find out how they will remove the mass….
When my friend, Ann, invites me to a women’s event at her church, I know by now to clear my schedule and go. Ever since the Bible Study that I attended with her last spring, I’ve learned that she’s like a vessel and when God puts it on her heart to drag me along, it means there’s something epic He needs me to hear and experience. Last night was no exception…
The women’s ministry hosted a talk by one of their members about making it through challenging seasons in our lives. No doubt she invited me… (wink wink). But, I’ll hold off on the bulk of the message though and start backwards because perhaps the real work on my soul happened at the end.
Although the night began with a good half hour of praise and worship time (which was great, my favorite time), I was pleasantly surprised when the band entered back onto the stage as the speaker, Linda, was finishing up. She only spoke for a half hour! I thought, “Oh! Sweet, I love more music!” And, actually, that’s when things began to get really real. By now, my friend Ann, had gone back out into the hall to help prepare more coffee and dessert for when it was over, so I was alone, unfamiliar with these faces around me. But, I wasn’t scared. As the music began in the background, Linda asked all of us women to stand up, close our eyes and raise our hands if we were there that night because we were going through some rough times, feeling weary, in need, etc…I raised my hand and then she told us all to come forward and stand in front of and facing the stage. Before I knew it, I made my way to the front of center stage as other women crowded around next to me and behind me. I just went for it! I knew the words to the song that the band played and it grew louder and louder. I closed my eyes, lifted my hands up in worship and sang. With a heart full of desperation, I was leaning in as it were, literally and spiritually. But I could feel my face smiling. Like big smiling. The music was giant and the women’s voices around me were loud and my heart might’ve beat out of my chest. I’ve grown familiar with that heart feeling, by the way. I’ve learned that it’s the Holy Spirit… I feel it when I talk on the phone to my friends in Africa, Prakash and Harsha. I’ve felt it during certain prayer times at my church. I’m not aware of the feeling often, however. Especially lately. I think the opposite happens with me when Chris’s health is in question. Instead of turning boldly towards God, I turn away because I feel betrayed that He’s making us trudge through it again. Right before school starts… especially right before Logan starts one of the most important school-beginnings of his life–middle school. And because of that, I will echo some frustrated words that I overheard one of his 11-year-old pals, said recently, “What the fudge?!” And, also, I’ll be clear. I know and I believe that God isn’t letting this happen. He isn’t an ugly, bad-willed God. He loves us very, very much. We live in a fallen world where bad things happen and for whatever the reason, some bad things continue to happen to us. This is something that I sound knowledgeable about, but I’m not. You’ll notice I stop talking about it right here, because that’s all I’ve got on the topic.
Let’s move on to the rest of the story from last night…where was I…? Music, hands up in the air, eyes closed, nothing to lose, desperation, worshiping, leaning in…the energy in the place was palpable, people. I live for that kind of energy, by the way. Ask Chris if you need proof, he’ll probably laugh and say, “Oh yea, the energy. It makes her cry. She loves it.” It’s an energy of UNITY, my friends – you’ve felt it before… it’s at rock concerts, when groups of people are dancing and moving in sync together with a common motivation, except last night the motivation was Holy Spirit energy and Holy Spirit unity and I wish I could bottle it.
Linda had various prayer people begin praying around those of us up at the stage. So, add to the list… Music, hands up in the air, eyes closed, nothing to lose, desperation, worshiping, leaning in… then prayer. Like crazy prayer. Prayers that got louder and prayers that got bigger… and then I sobbed. Like the loosing control – I think I’m alone in my room-sobbing. But no one could hear me because the music was so loud.
I think I have such a particular role in my house to keep my cool and maintain a certain level of stability when Chris’s health isn’t well and I’ll admit I don’t like my children to see me cry. I’ve learned that all children, no matter the age, probably, (even us, as 40-year-olds), turn to our their parents for stability. Chris agrees. Case in point, in the doctor’s office recently, when we were told that he might have a cancerous disease in his bones (come to find out he doesn’t actually have said disease, thank goodness! And, thank you (not) Doctor for a week of unfounded agony), I remember turning and looking at his parents who were in the exam room with us for some encouragement, only to see his mom crying, and that’s when I knew it was bad. If his parents are adversely reacting, then I had to find stability elsewhere. So, it is with that adulthood realization that I understand how especially important it is for my boys to see me keeping it together. I also know his isn’t entirely true, but I wont go on about it now. Maybe this “front” that I keep is why I broke down so severely last night during the service. Maintaining the stoicism mixed with positivity is exhausting. So finally, here I was in this environment where God was right there in front of me and I could take the wall down a minute and break, but break safely. So much of the theme of last night was freedom. Being free. Being set free. Freedom from Chris’s illnesses after this next bout is over. I can’t wait for that freedom and I think the realization of that freedom that I miss and my desperation for getting it was too much to bear. I wasn’t crying so much out of fear for what we’ll find out his diagnosis to be, but out of shear exhaustion of it all.
So, I’m sobbing when all of a sudden I feel someone’s hands on my back and on my head. It was the woman behind me, praying over me and then Linda announced that before she spoke, she felt like God moved her heart to recognize that many women in attendance were experiencing an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.
“Who are you?” She asked, with compassion, but also an authority that she knew we were out there. She didn’t ask are there any of you who feel hopeless, she wanted to know who we were and told us to raise our hands. I kind of opened my eyes and peeked to my right, near where she was, and I saw some other women raising their hands. Linda took their hands and announced that they need prayed over there and then she wanted to know who else felt hopeless, like she knew there were more, and she looked over in my direction. I hadn’t raised my hand yet, but suddenly, there it was, going up, and the worship leader girl pointed at me to make sure Linda didn’t miss me and I felt like I was spinning and it was surreal and it certainly didn’t stop anytime soon. Linda came over to me and took my hand, then the woman behind me, over the music and the prayer, asked me to tell her what was going on, so I quickly gave her the scoop that it was my husband’s health and how he has a mystery mass on his spine that is applying pressure on his nerves causing pain and giving him an inability to stand or walk without assistance from me or whatever solid object is nearby. So she asked me his name and then she prayed a giant prayer over him and also for me, all the while I’m thanking Jesus and it seems like a tornado is spinning around the place with a beautiful, spirit-filled chaos, but I was solid on not missing a single word from her mouth. She was loud and clear.
“In Jesus’ Name,” she says. “Amen.”
I thanked her and we hugged and with that, I was out. I grabbed my bag, probably made crazy eye-contact with all the women around me and sought my friend, Ann, out in the hall. She sees me wiping my eyes and says, “Yea?”
And I said, “Yea.”
I went home after that, and with bated breath, my boys and my husband listened to the story of my experience. We laughed and gasped and awed and high-fived together. It’s like I’ve said before, I can’t keep quiet about our story. About how God is making me brave, making us brave… my boys brave. I can’t not come back from something like last night and not share it with others. I don’t know what next week will bring after we hear Chris’s diagnosis and what will be done about it, but I’ve got to hang on to what happened last night and believe that I’m still kicking after three and a half years of brain tumor diagnoses… I find it hard to believe, that while what depths we’re in right now have been awarded the hardest time, that what’s ahead will be the worst time. Somehow, I believe it won’t be. I learned last night to show ’em that I’m a woman who trusts God and to not give up…
Here’s what the last of my notes said, “No more small thinking…only Big dreams. God wants to resurrect your big dreams. God has a better dream than what I thought I had. He is bringing me to a beautiful place. THIS ISN’T IT. IT’S BETTER WHERE I’M GOING. “IT’S NOT OVER YET.”
I included some lyrics to a song that I love right now, I rediscovered it yesterday morning and couldn’t help but notice that they lyrics pretty much mimic what I came away with last night.
Big love, my friends.
Song: “It’s Not Over Yet”
Artist: for KING & COUNTRY