There are times when you carry on. And times when you don't. All through my doctoral studies, it was a mixture of this...a push/pull of carrying on and giving in, as I struggled through cancer, adjusted to life with a child with significant special needs, and attempted to keep up with my studies all the while. Then there was that moment, May 18, 2012, in the humid South Carolina air, when two esteemed professors lifted the velvet and satin hood up and over my shoulders and pronounced me "doctor". It took longer than expected, but I still got to that crowning moment, despite the many times when I couldn't carry on at all.
One would think my trials were over. After all, I hit cancer remission in February, and I, foolishly, thought this would mean smooth sailing in the health department. Ummm, not so much! Radiation and the damage of cancer itself still lingers in the body past that arbitrary date when the doctor tells you there is no longer evidence of the tumor itself, and I found myself battling bouts of pneumonia throughout the spring and summer.
The lowest of low came on my eldest daughter's ninth birthday. I felt as though I earned the "Worst Mom of the Year Award" as I told her, with tears streaming down my cheeks, that she would either have to celebrate her birthday party without me present, or we would have to cancel and reschedule the whole thing. We had planned a big bash at the local minor league baseball game, and she was to throw out the hallowed first pitch of the game. But there wasn't a moment of hesitation between my tearful explanation and her emphatic answer: if it couldn't be celebrated with me present, she wanted to postpone it. So, instead of celebrating at the ballpark on the sunny August afternoon, she snuggled in bed with me all day, me wheezing and coughing from pneumonia, taking inhalers and praying for rest between bouts of coughing fits, and she perfectly content to spend the day just how she spent her very first birthday - cuddling close to Mama, no matter how "unlovable" I felt at the moment.
Now the day approaches for her "make-up" birthday party, and once again, I am under the weather. I had an unexpected root canal yesterday, and for reasons unknown to my dentist, they are never able to successfully anesthetize my lower jaw, so I underwent the procedure without Novacaine. Who would think that a procedure on a TOOTH would nearly incapacitate me with pain, even the next day? I am skeptical about tomorrow as well - the day of the much lauded party!
As I rub the sore jaw and take pain meds, mulling this over and planning how to go about baking cupcakes and preparing party favors in between my work hours today and tomorrow, I am comforted by a much-loved passage of Scripture that reminds me that even my tiny TEETH have a function and are part of a smoothly functioning whole. I am reminded that they are numbered and counted precious by my Maker, and that He cares that I am in pain today. And here, on the precipice where life feels utterly unmanageable, He is ready to shoulder the load of my cares, and to walk with me under this Cross, however silly a Cross it may seem.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (I Corinthians 12:21-27)
Hosting Life: UNMASKED for Joy in This Journey today. Joy is in Sri Lanka with World Vision; be sure to visit her blog to see all the posts from the blogging team and keep up with their amazing trip!
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