Tuesday, November 7, 2017

New Cells

Today was Grace's bone marrow transplant...and I'm not mad or hurting, I'm really glad...in the most subtle way possible. We bought balloons and the nurses and childlife made her posters and brought gifts and I was happy. I really was, even though I keep my emotions as mellow as possible. I know that if I spend all my energy in one moment, the next moment everything can flip on it's head, and I'll have nothing left for it. It's a survivor's mentality and it's how you mommy when your child has cancer.

Something else that's helped me recover from my anger is that I know that if I am depressed or despondent or ugly-angry, I am accepted and loved by people and by God. It's amazing how that knowledge is a rock in times of trouble. Another thing has been that I've been praying more honestly and looking for wisdom in the Bible.

I'm not great at reading the Bible. I skim it and if I get confused I feel ashamed and if I feel ashamed than I abandon reading the Bible and then I feel more ashamed. It's a very bad cycle. But after Celebrate Recovery I realized that if I don't stay rooted in who God is than I will wander. It's just human nature. So I've been praying for nearly a year that God would help me to care about the Bible, and recently he has.

I've realized that Jesus was probably a really fun guy. Kids were drawn to him and the pharisees rebuked his disciples for being so happy. I think Jesus probably danced at every Jewish wedding and laughed and sang with kids. Also, he really did turn water into wine and he turned a LOT of it into the best wine, not cheap "teach them a lesson about sobriety" wine. I think he liked people enjoying being people, and I think he enjoyed being around people.

And that confused me, the thought of a happy Jesus. Because from what I read he was also surrounded by sin, sinners, and disciples who wanted to call down eternal damnation from heaven onto anyone who had sinned, except on their self-righteous selves. Jesus must have felt very lonely sometimes. He was often misunderstood, often overlooked, often taken for granted, often wanted dead. Everywhere he looked he was surrounded by broken people in a broken world.

And yet this is the Jesus who was probably a really fun guy. So I was trying to reconcile how Jesus, God incarnate, could be happy when surrounded by nothing but entropy and sin. But he had joy. Maybe not always the laughing-dancing-joy, but that unbreakable-peace-joy that sometimes erupted as dancing and joking.

I have a theory. I think that Jesus held hands with humanity but kept his heart in heaven.

He raised Lazarus from the dead but I don't think that was his reason for joy. I think it was that JEsusknew by dying on the cross, that Lazarus could have eternal life in heaven. Because everything Jesus fixed on earth broke or died again. I think he had his focus on heaven, where all will be made right again. Not only will broken bodies will be fixed, but broken minds and broken souls too. I think he found joy in keeping his eyes on who his Father is, and in what good things were to come. And also in those rare moments when people caught on to who he was and what he came to do.

I think that's how he could be surrounded by brokenness and still have joy. And what amazes me is that he also fully entered into people's suffering. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he wept first. He was fully present in the pain of the grieving sisters, which is intense, as I am convinced that God can feel more deeply than we can ever imagine. I think Jesus came to understand our pain, in addition to redemption. He wasn't satisfied to sympathize with his broken children. He experienced our brokenness. He empathized.

So I'm trying to learn from Jesus' example of joy and grief and figure out how to live that as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

We know five other families on the CHLA oncology floor tonight. Needless to say there is a lot of suffering with the potential for devastation to visit any of our rooms at any time. And yet I am trying to find joy by keeping my heart set on God's promises of heaven, while at the same time being present with Grace and with our friends who are fighting for their lives. The balance of grief mixed with the hope of Heaven feels much better than the pretend me that "plastic-happiness-faith." I have been real with God and I have not been rejected.

Also I've dared to be real in these blogs and I have not been rejected by my friends and family. To be at my lowest and to be broken with nothing to offer... and know that I am still loved and accepted is the truest comfort there is. It's what has brought me through many hard days recently. I am so grateful to everyone who's been praying and loving on us in so many ways.

And I am so thankful to have joy. Though Grace's fight is still ahead, today I am so grateful for her donor and for all of those who swabbed for Be the Match, and for all of our friends and family who prayed for her today.


  1. Thank you for being so real and for sharing your heart. I've lost two babies to miscarriage this year and have been struggling with some of the same anger towards God. Your words have inspired me (and I'm sure countless others). You, Grace, and your family are in my prayers.

  2. I love you my friend! I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  3. Melissa, this was so beautifully written, straight from the heart. I heard Jesus in your words, I saw His laughing eyes and then His compassionate ones in sorrow. Grace has a lot of mama in her, you have made Jesus and her proud. I am praying for you and all other families on your floor. Sending so much love to you, your family and your precious Ninja Grace.

  4. Blessings to Grace...I read Jesus in the Gospels as not terribly concerned about feeling or showing whatever He was feeling. It was all part of the experience of living in a body.

    In a way I think people who want everyone to work at being/seeming something considered "positive" all the time end up feeding more energy to the nasty stuff by denying it. In their minds a tear is powerful and terrible and *has to* be continually stuffed down under layers of grins and vacuous verbiage, long after someone less worried about "feelings" would have shed the tear and dried off and felt better...