oh, if I’m honest, returning back to another chemo week today has left me pretty worn out, even though its only the first day of receiving chemo daily back to back to back for the remainder of the week.
Today Dad picks me up from my house at 7:30 in morning, and we are off, heading towards our routine. The Monday routine that has developed over the past year: Dad picking me up from my house, we arrive to Nationwide Children’s, we chat briefly to the two who are always there at the check-in desk, we go downstairs to the cafeteria since I never find time to get breakfast and grab a breakfast burrito, head up to the 11th floor, check height, check weight, check blood pressure, check temperature, and settle, settle into my room for the next several hours.
The routine contines: Dad returns back to the first floor to get his coffee and bagel, and I am waiting, waiting patiently for the cream on my forearm veins to numb and drinking, drinking water in hopes that an IV will go in immediately this time, and praying, praying that my veins accept the needle.
Today the special IV team comes in immediately and, miracle!, the IV gets started so easily, reminding me of times when I was first starting treatment again, how easy the needle seemed to slide and live contently in my arm for the next several days.
I then have a constant companion of a staff member for the next hour or so. My nurse practioner comes, and then the social worker, the massage therapist, the art therapist, the psychologist. And it’s kind of comical: they are all surprised to find me in room #19 instead of room #15. Oh yes, room #15 is my home, my room and yes, it does feel like they are visiting my space, that they are my guests and I am their host there to simply entertain them for a moment. How that thought I’m realizing is so silly because they are there to help me, in fact, it is their job to do so. But their reminder-comment recalls to me and affirms somewhere deeply in my soul that I believe that I am a permanent fixture here it seems.
But I am not permanent here; I am merely temporary. My routine is merely temporary, my treatment, my chemo, my cancer, even though it seems so fully permanent of me, of my life vision, of myself.
I realized how deeply I sometimes hold onto this today in fact.
Turns out, this week is my last treatment week! And here I was, thinking this week was my second to last week! (for reasons I could explain later to you)
And ok, so you might be thinking, that is so great! So exciting! And I agree with you dear friends, but my emotions-response to this is also illuminating deeper truths about how I perceive myself (oh, how He is always doing so in grace!)
You see, bumping up treatment ending now potentially sooner brought up those anxiety-weeds in my heart-field again. Oh, how those weeds are so deeply stubborn, so deeply rooted, their entrails gripping for whatever piece of soul-dirt they can find! Thoughts coming up that you weren’t planning this, this shifts your “future-schedule” you keeping trying to desperately can in perserving-mason jars, this is an exciting-fear plant forming in the garden of your heart.
You see, its truly fear that is wanting me to grip once again so tightly to my schedule, to my mason jars filled with scheduled-time, even though I am looking clear into the jar’s glass and see that its on some level so silly to want more treatment, something that so disrupts your life, your being, your relationships just in order to continue to postpon transition.
Because—if you and I are both honest with me, with my heart—having one more treatment week is merely postponing an envitable end: I will have to transition from chemo-schedule to adult-life-schedule (whatever the heck that is and may mean!) And the fear of transition, fear of the unknown is what I am battling now.
Not the cancer.
Not the treatment.
But a battle against fear.
I am now battling a new kind of fear of the future, of now instead more of a fear of pressing-closer-in-time-future-but-still-distant-future.
Oh, how I feel so much like the protagonist Much-Afraid in Hannah Hurnard’s allegorical novel Hinds’ Feet on High Places ! This novel has been so timely introduced to me to read (oh, grace, grace!) for like Much-Afraid, I am learning what it truly means to follow the Good Shepard Jesus to new higher depths of understanding, of how to follow Him in trust, in faith, in spirit —
“Much-Afraid could not speak. She moaned and pressed her hands to her heart, feeling as though it would break. What could she do now? He was gone. He had hought that she had not want to go and had not waited for her. Then, aching with despair, as she leaned tremblingly against the wall of the fold, she remembered the Shephard’s face and the loving-kindness of his look with which he had invited her to go accompany him to the mountains.
“It came to her mind that he who understood her so well, who knew all about her fears and had compassion on her, would not leave until he was quite sure that she really meant to refuse to go with him. She lifted her eyes, looked across the Valley toward the eastern mountain and the High Places…”
from Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds’ Feet on High Places
And here, for me, the Ultimate Gardener is still here with his shovel-tools of the Word (however sharp it can be!) and Spirit. He is patiently willing to bring them back out to the garden-soil of my heart, to help dig up those deeper anxiety-weed-roots I couldn’t still see that I had still by only looking outwardly at my heart.
That is grace: He is so patient in bringing us back to truths we already read and heard, patiently reminding us of them, trying to convince us deeper we need him, I need him.
He knows my fears and has deep compassion.
That is grace.