8.05.2014

Real

I'm not having a crisis of faith. I'm not mad or angry. I just want to say those things at the outset, so that you don't feel alarmed or worried.

I'm going to swear in this piece. Don't read it if you're offended. I mean it. If swears offend you, don't read this.

Also, side note: I'm actually pretty happy today and most days. I feel really good physically, mentally, and emotionally although my platelet count reflects otherwise. The people in my life fill my heart with gratitude. There's plenty to be thankful for and blah, blah, blah.

But there's a few things about life that suck lately. And I'm in the process of trying to reconcile all that suck with a God I want to worship...not curse.

I know, I know. It could be worse. Way worse. Having no platelets isn't the worst. And wow - how nice - I get to live right here by Mayo, so there's that little "bright side."

Worse things: I could be starving. I could be in a war zone. I could have inoperable cancer. But you know what? Some people actually ARE starving and in war zones and dealing with inoperable cancer. How fair is that? Not fair. That stinks. And what would we say to them? "It couldn't be worse." Not comforting. I don't think comparing one person's shit to another person's shit is all that helpful. Basically, bottom line, there are plenty of not-great-things that happen in our blessed universe.

I think the straw that broke the camel's back was when I had that allergic reaction last night to the platelets. It scared the hell out of me. I can handle some hives, a swollen lip, and itchy ears. But right before the nurse put the Benadryl in my IV, my chest was literally tightening and it was getting harder to swallow!

Out of everything that has happened in the last 4 years of this diagnosis, last night ties for "worst place" with the time I had a significant bleeding event when a nurse was trying to put an IV in my arm. That also scared the hell out of me. And no one should have to have the hell scared out of them once....let alone twice!

The fact that any human being ever has to deal with this kind of crap is bullshit. It just is. It just really is. And I know it could be worse! I get it.

I don't think God did that to me last night. I don't think God was in the blood lab making sure the doctor chose a bag of platelets that would give me a reaction. That would be really creepy of the Creator of All Things.

I don't think God is doing any of this to me. Honestly, I don't know where God is or what God is doing. Do you? Does anyone...with 100% certainty? But whatever God might be, I don't think "puppeteer" is a good descriptor.

Everyone's theology is different. Likely you've faced some major suckfest in your own life. Some people make peace by believing that God is in control of it all and "never gives us more than we can handle." If that gives you a sense of peace and security, by all means, believe it! Seriously.

Some people make peace by letting go of any concept of God. Atheism. And I understand that approach. We're all just looking for some tranquility in a chaotic world.

Most people find a middle ground.

I thought I had found it, but I don't know where I am on the "how much control does God actually have?" spectrum anymore.

I used to attribute every blessing in my life to God. Every good news. Every happy moment. Every joy. Every meaningful coincidence. Every learning opportunity. It was all: thanks be to God.

But lately I'm wrestling with how reasonable it is to give God the credit for every good thing but never for the bad things. That's how I've been operating. "Thanks be to God" for the good stuff. But "it's not God's fault...God can't control it" for the bad stuff.

It doesn't seem logical to try and make a matching pair with those two cards.

That being said, I sense a transcendent reality. Deeply. All the time.

And I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus. I like how he lived. I like how he talked to people. I like how he made the best of a hand of cards he didn't necessarily choose to be dealt. I like how much he wanted people to treat each other with compassion. And I really like how he despised it when people were getting screwed over, and he wasn't afraid to speak up about it.

You know what....I'm probably going to keep saying "thanks be to God" for the good stuff.

And I'm going to keep saying "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done" because Jesus said it and it makes sense. When you don't know what else to pray...might as well pray for God's will to be done. Whatever God's mysterious will might be.

Maybe Jesus felt pretty confused about God's will sometimes, too. Actually, he definitely did (see The Garden of Gethsemene).

But he kept going. He kept going even when it was scary...even when the crowds kept getting bigger and he just wanted a little quiet time...even when he felt betrayed and alone. He kept going as far as he could go.

It is what it is.
There's a silver lining in every rain cloud.
Everything works out in the end.

Insert your own favorite cliche.

I'm going to get a blood test tomorrow morning. And it's either going to be better or worse than it was yesterday. Maybe I'll get to continue on with my workday. Maybe I'll have to get admitted to the hospital. Maybe I'll have to get some platelets.

Regardless of all that. Regardless of whether I have a remission or not. Regardless of whether I'm still dealing with this same shit 5 years from now. Regardless of whether I do get to have a child someday or I don't. Regardless of whether I spend another series of nights in a sterile hospital room falling asleep to the drip of an IV pole....

I'm thankful to be alive. I'm thankful for the chance to exist on this complicated, incessantly perplexing orb called Earth.

And maybe it's because I don't know what else to be believe - or maybe it's because it's the only thing I know I believe for sure, but I do give God the credit for this gift of existence.

So for that, I guess there's only one thing left to say: thanks be to God.

40 comments:

  1. Emily, this is probably one of the best pieces I think you've written. As someone who has a chronic disease (and often says "it could be worse!") you've hit the nail on the head. It sucks. It hurts. It's not fair. And often I think when we gloss over the pain and hurt (with cliches I'd like to stuff down someone's throat), I don't think it honors the person, their journey, *or* their Creator. Sending lots of love your way-- keep writing, please <3

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    1. Thank you, Steph. Thank you for caring and thank you for understanding on a really deep level.

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  2. Well, it took you long enough to lay it all out there. Amen, sister! You helped me through painful days, not by saying all that trite junk, but just by being Emily, good and true. I love you and miss your smiling, pretty face. Be strong when you can - it works.
    Jan

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    1. Jan - you are truly a friend who has taught me again and again about what it means to be real...that we can laugh and then cry in the same series of moments...that we don't need to pretend we're okay when we're not...Since the day I met you, you've taught me that it's okay to admit that there's no good answer for why crappy things happen. And even so, we can have deep faith and deep love. I love you, Jan.

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  3. Excellent. And you write even better when you don't censor yourself. Keep that shit up!

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    1. Thanks, Darby. I'll work on freeing my inner voice....bit by bit. Maybe I can simultaneously stop caring so much what the hell other people think. ;)

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  4. I am so effing thankful for you existence, too.

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    1. Oh girlfriend! You, too, senorita. You're always there for me when I need you, girl. Thanks for being there Monday night. And for being a world-class, top-notch friend.

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  5. Love this!! Thanks for sharing your realness! Love you!!!

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    1. Thank you, Sarah! Love you! And love to read your life updates. I love your realness, too. It encourages me again and again.

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    1. Thanks, Tom! And thanks for sharing it online. My orchid is still blooming. :)

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  7. Well said and spoken from the heart. Thanks, Emily.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment. :)

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  8. Beautiful! and don't forget that old "when one door closes, another opens." I'm still waiting on that one.

    Many blessings to you, Emily, as you have blessed us all.

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    1. :) Thank you! Thanks for reading - and for the loving words.

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  9. Thank you so much for writing this. It helps knowing that, even Pastors, question things like this! Sometimes us "regular folks" wonder if we're true believers when we start to ask those difficult questions.

    So sorry that you're going through this! Prayers are definitely being said! Thank you so much for letting us in on your journey.

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    1. Your comment means a lot to me. Thank you for caring and for reading and for commenting. I'm learning to lean into the questions...and comments like yours remind me to keep leaning and not be afraid to share. Thank you!

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  10. Emily - thrombocytopenia sucks! Im so glad we arent defined by our illnesses because you are amazing. Im thankful for benadryl that helped with your reaction! I think its amazing that you can realize this world is a constant combination of sucky moments and joyous moments. The real goal in life is that the joyous moments outnumber the sucky ones! Stay strong and know so many love you!
    Abbie Schrader

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    1. Abbie - you are so thoughtful and loving. Thank you for commenting. Sucky moments and joyous moments...an ongoing combination of both - you're exactly right. Love to you. I treasure your presence in my life!

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  11. Dearest Emily, I wish I was there to smile at you and hold your hand like you did for our Jill. It isn't fair for faithful people to have to go through terrible things but that was the way it was in the Bible and that is the way it is today. I guess after going through the last three years questioning and trying to explain to a little girl why her mother went to heaven, it wasn't God , it is the evil that is in this world and really a form of hell. I believe that Jesus will be waiting for us as he was for Jill and the love and healing will be waiting for all of us who have tried to shine and show His love to others. Rejoice and know you have helped so many people and you will be healed some day.

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    1. Jean, Jean, Jean. I love you. You're always in my heart. And Jill is, too. Always. You shine with love and acceptance and kindness every day. Love you so much. Thanks for being a light in my life. I look forward to the day when we get to see each other again in person.

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  12. Feels so authentic, honest and very well written.

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    1. Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Sally. Each encouraging word inspires me to keep writing...and not be afraid of the feelings behind the words.

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  13. Keep it real, friend. Seriously. What you're going through sucks big time. Praying for you.

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    1. Becky - you are such a wonderful encourager in my life. Time and miles separate us....but Twitter and Instagram and blogging keeps us connected. And I am so immensely thankful for that. I almost feel like I get to see you and chat every day. Thank you for the love and prayers. Right back at you!

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  14. We as God's children need to take your story as an example to be more transparent with our feelings even if it means bearing it all because we cannot grow without knowing it can't be done alone...we live in a village. Sometimes when I don't know how to explain what life throws at me...I ponder extremes...we cannot know enormous joy without experiencing wretching sorrow. The meaning of life sure has us stumped...but so far I try to make this world a better place by accepting people as they are rather than judge... It is not our human right to judge...it just kills compassion and understanding. May peace surround you! Abbie

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    1. Thank you, Abbie. Thank you for spreading light and unconditional acceptance! That is powerful...immensely powerful! May peace fill your heart as well. Thank you for your words.

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  15. Beautiful, compassionate, gutsy, genuine Amy, you are a gift to this world. You are right sometimes life sucks and it is not fair. You could not be more Christ-like than when you reach out and meet people exactly where they are- hurting, questioning, fearful and angry. You truly are Christ with skin to many people. Thanks be to God.
    Hugs and prayers.
    Mabel

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    1. Mabel - you are so very, very thoughtful. Thank you for these words...thank you for reminding me that it's okay to hurt and question and fear....and it's okay to share those feelings. Hugs and prayers to you as well, dear friend. I hold you in my heart and think of my southern IL family every day.

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  16. you are a real person and you put it out there just beautifully! Hang in there my friend. I for one feel very lucky to have you in my life.

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    1. Thank you, Wendy! Thank you for being a treasured friend...and for ALWAYS being there with an encouraging hug and a thoughtful word. You model such care and compassion for others...and you always accept people unconditionally. Thank you for being in my life!

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  17. I too suffer from a chronic, progressive disease. I have great faith & love for God....but deal with the "it's not fair!!" at times. Acceptance is a funny thing, we have it, we are ok, then all of the sudden reality comes again & we are still grieving the loss of our health. Prayers to you for health, love, children...you deserve nothing but the best!

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    1. Amen! You are exactly right about the journey of acceptance....it's a bit of a rollercoaster most of the time. Thanks for being so thoughtful and for taking time to read and comment.

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  18. Great post Emily. This one got cut and pasted into my save file:). Think and pray for you often. "one day at a time", I thought you needed another cliche!

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    1. Kasey! I sure look forward to when I get to see you again and have a heart-to-heart. So much love to you. Thanks for being you - for caring, for being someone I can always be real with, for the love you show to people and the environment. Excited to see you face to face. But until then, I'll be taking it one day at a time. ;) ;)

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  19. Emily - Thank you for putting into words what is so often too real for many of us. The past year has been the most difficult year of my life in so many different ways. I have tried to make sense of it, tried to process everything that has happened and I can't. Perhaps it simply isn't possible to make sense of what seems senseless...but for some reason I keep trying. The only thing I seem to know for sure is that any control I think I have is mostly an illusion and the true depth of my faith is most evident in those moments when I hand the reign of control over to God. I will pray for your recovery and strength.

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    1. It sounds like you have truly faced some incredibly tough stuff in the past year. Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. It does feel as if control is an illusion so much of the time. Praying for your strength and courage in the midst of this journey. And know that if you ever need a listening ear, I'm here!

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  20. Sometimes swearing is the only appropriate response. Your writing is honest and beautiful. Far more effective than the silver-lining answers. So thanks. Thanks for sharing you life and the suck-factor. Matthew Hundley is a friend who linked me to you - thinking we had a similar voice. I am honored.
    May Jesus keep your heart green.
    Margie

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    1. Thank you, Margie. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I love that line: "May Jesus keep your heart green." :) Lovely. I'd love to read some of your writing, too, Margie!

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