Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hidden Somewhere

As you'll see from the video, Grace has made a huge step by re-hairing her doll Serena, and by re-naming her Claire. Serena is the bald, American Girl doll given to her on the day Grace shaved her hair off, after chemo had claimed most of it. Apparently Claire has all the memory Serena does, of having been with Grace through her relapse, and being inpatient for months, and all the lonely days spent at home healing.

But Claire is cancer-free and healthy.

Claire is ready to play actively, not just cuddle in the hospital bed. Claire can go to school, marry a prince, ride a horse. Claire is also ready to celebrate Grace's one year anniversary of her bone marrow transplant tomorrow.

I've heard from many fellow cancer mamas that the days leading up to an anniversary is the hardest, sometimes it's even harder than the day itself. I think that's true for me, but I don't feel it. The pain, the fear, the memories...it's all there, but it's hidden so deep inside me that I can't find it. I feel a lot like I did a year ago when we were living inpatient, like I was reading someone else's story but not living it. 

I think it's been really affecting my relationship with God. He's been pretty silent lately, but the last few weeks it's not just the quiet. It's the feeling of a barrier between us and I haven't been able to get past it. I've been praying for God remove it, and yesterday I finally realized what's causing it.

It's me. 

I have hidden my pain deep inside my heart and I don't want God to touch it. And I'm pretty sure if I were to let him, it's the first place he'd go, because that's where I'm drowning and most in need of rescue. But the thought of dealing with that pain is so frightening that I've been casually keeping God at an arm's length, without even realizing it.

I can see it today.  And I do/don't want to change.

I know if I can't open that part of me, God can't be part of my life, not really. He wants the real me, as ugly as I can be. He won't settle for my facades. He isn't able to reach my heart if I've locked it up.

I had a bit of insight yesterday when I helped at a car crash. Whe trauma hits, I calm down. I'm a fixer, a helper. I don't know to grieve. I don't know how to admit I'm broken. I'm better at turning off cars leaking gas and standing ready to pull the man out should the car ignite. I can do crazy, busy, daring, with total clarity.

But intimacy is more than big moments. Intimacy happens in the quiet nothings. And I haven't allowed any of them because they hurt. My numbing drug of choice lately has been "busy."

And a lot of that busy has been part of what God has called me to...it's just that I've taken things too seriously and made my prayer life about requests and reports, not intimate friendship. I've been referring to God as "boss" and "coach" and not as "Abba," which is the term Jesus used in the Bible,  (Aramaic for "daddy.") I've found reasons to not go to church, reasons to not have devotional time, reasons to keep my spiritual life as shallow as possible, without even realizing it. 

I think it's because I'm still mad at God for allowing Grace to get cancer twice. Some days I'm at peace with it, but especially near anniversaries, all I can remember is the pain. The helplessness. The long, fearful nights and the slow, morphine-filled days.

I've been having flashbacks again. Moments when I'm back in the hospital room. I can see everything, as if I got sucked into a movie. I've been hit with moments when I suddenly understand the enormity of what Grace went through. Moments when I remember the dangers that delayed side effects could bring.

As soon as I feel it, I'm denying it.

I get so tired. Physically. I think it's my body's way of trying to protect me. Writing this I've had to stop and lay my head on my keyboard five or six times to rest. I feel my heart constricting, my eyelids getting heavy. My whole body seems to slow down like I'm about to hibernate from the cold of my reality.

Or I flip channels in my brain. I remember Grace being in so much pain that she refused to eat even ice cream...what was that show I watched last night? It's my mind trying to push the pain into the corners of my mind so I can function. But it keeps seeping out.

Today I finally had the courage to whisper a prayer that invited God back into all my pain. I acknowledged that the pain is too great for me to bear, I can't do it without his help and I'll drown in it if I don't let my support team know what's boiling inside me.

I think that's what Paul was talking about when he said in Philippians, "I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me." It's a verse often misquoted to claim victory over trivial things but when Paul wrote it he was waiting to be executed. I think it should be translated, "I can suffer all things because Jesus strengthens me."

And today I felt the barrier come down. 

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