Monday, February 19, 2018

Out of the Ashes

Grace Update:

We've been home for over a week and I think I'm much less shell-shocked this time, but Grace is still thawing out. She's been feeling significantly better this week, though that still includes lots of aches, pains, tummy issues, fatigue and weakness. She's afraid to be touched. I'm going to talk to the doctor about it tomorrow- to see if it's a medicine side effect or nerve damage that's causing the pain.

She's also been having lots and lots of nightmares, including one last night of getting a shot in her neck and another in her fingertip. She also keeps having dreams that I came into her room to give her medicine or wake her up for an appointment, so she'll wake up and try to get ready, but I'm not there. The confusion really upsets her, and the sleep deprivation only adds to it.

But overall she's talking again, laughing again, and playing with toys for the first time in three months. And playing on her swing set every day.

It makes me so content to see her and her brother outside, playing, and laughing together every evening. It's the most normal part of my day. It makes me feel secure, even if for only that half an hour. It's been one of the healing oils God has been carefully rubbing into my raw soul. He's been slowly healing my soul and my relationship with him.

Me update:

I've always been like this: if I can't have some resolution with my relationship with God, then I act like a scorned lover who can't move on. He's the center gear in which all my other gears revolve around, and in the times when my relationship with him is not functioning, everything else grinds to a stop. If he doesn't make sense to me, then nothing in life makes sense to me.

I think that's why it's been so critically important to me to figure Him out (as much as a mortal might dare to try to figure God out) during Grace's-cancer-crisis. For me it's been a spiritual-crisis. An identity-crisis. An every-aspect-of-life-crisis.

A big issue I've been struggling with is trying to imagine myself reintegrating into "normal" life with "normal" people. If you've read any of my past blogs you've probably sensed the anger and bitterness I've been struggling with. I'm so afraid of rejection for being broken. I'm so judgemental of those who've never suffered, especially Christians. I fear happiness as much as I fear pain.

It's been ugly. And frightening. And lonely.

Last week I was able to go to Celebrate Recovery for the first time in ages. We sang the worship song Holy Ground and I bristled at, "let every burning heart be holy ground."

I felt more like my heart had only burnt to the ground, and I think that's not really what the song implied. I can't fake passion, pretending my heart is burning on fire for God- what does that really mean anyhow? Passion isn't a "Fruit of the Spirit," or a beatitude listed in the Sermon on the Mount and yet Christians are so focused on passion right now. It reminds me that our society idolizes star-crossed lovers over marriages that have endured decades.

My faith is totally dependant on him right now. My heart is broken and burned out. The amazing thing was, God didn't refute that feeling. I felt his presence affirm it. And that sort of surprised me.

I used to imagine that God and I would take walks, hand in hand, in the garden of my heart. He showed me that it wasn't my garden, it's always been His garden that I had imagined, and that I had a corner patch in it. And I saw in this vision that my garden plot really had burned to the ground.

But he reminded me that forest fires are often seen as terrible calamities with nothing but devastation and pain...but in actuality forest fires are a huge benefit for the forest in the broader sense. They clear the ground for new growth. Many plants are dependant on the heat and chemical changes for germination. Fires kill the mold and bacteria that had festered in the dark underbrush, and the new growth will have plenty of oxygen and sunlight to prevent future blight. Forests will languish without an occasional fire.

In a forest fire there is loss of life, but also there is also new life.

So it was true, my garden plot had burned to the ground while others burned with poetic passion. And some of those burning, passionate Christians in God's garden are represented by beautiful, ornamental garden plots. They have topiaries and long stemmed roses, bubbly fountains and marble statues. But I have a feeling there are more Christians who feel they should be this type of garden than God might actually need, and/or they think that it's the only type of garden God approves of.

But I don't think God's large garden is just to create beauty. In some plots God is also growing vegetables. Some plots are fruit orchards. He is tending herbs for medicine in others. Some gardens are for shade, some drought tolerant, some are full sun. Some hold the manure until it breaks down into rich fertilizer to enrich the rest of the garden. Some are full of tall trees planted at the perimeter to take the brunt of the weather, to protect the more delicate plants further inside the garden.

Each has a purpose and I think God values each of them for the unique job He created them to do.

That resonated with me so much that I sang the rest of the song with my own improvised lyrics. I am burned to the ground.

But now I look forward to see what type of garden God will grow in me once the ash has settled. I know it's not necessarily one that will be valued by those looking for prize winning roses, but as long as my heart is a garden that God is satisfied with,  I will try to grow to be true to His vision for my purpose.


  1. You are amazing my friend! I agree and have witnessed that sometimes a type of death must occur in order for new life to begin. Thankful it is not always a physical death, but it is painful none the less. Praying for the sprouts that are starting. I love, admire, and miss you my friend!

  2. All I can say is “I love you, Melissa” You and your honesty are both a gift to the world!