"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."
— C.S. Lewis
I like this little quote, and for the most part it's true for me, but I could do with some explanation as to how stuff that's going on at the moment is exactly the best for me. Or for Katy, or for Bryan or Elizabeth or my Mum. It doesn't seem to make sense to me at all. I don't want it to be painful. Why does it have to be painful? Does it have to be? Why is it, sometimes?
We went to the hospital for a scan, Katy and I, this morning, and the consultant sonographer, if that's his title, pored over the grainy little image of her bump and declared that it was smaller (hooray!) but still needed removing, in his opinion (hmmph). It has changed shape and now might have a fistula which heads somewhere deeper in her neck, but looks as if it might be an abscess, now, not a lymph node or a gland or a cyst. The truth is they still don't know, and despite it's slightly shrunken appearance they're taking no chances. We see the consultant maxillofacial surgeon tomorrow and she has the final say. The surgery date is booked for June 3.
What will be the state of play with other things by June 3, Lord? Will all be well, and all we have to concentrate on is little Katy and her operation? Or is life going to come crashing down again tomorrow? How many worries am I going to have to cope with all at once?
What is it all about? Character building? I know that you can bring good out of any situation but I just don't see why we have to have so much crap for you to bring good out of. I know that you can manage it from a standing start so you don't have to allow all this to go so wrong just to bring about something good. To be honest I thought that this year was trundling along just fine and I was making progress without the necessity for adversity to toughen me (or my family) up. There's been so much that's gone wrong this year and I've done so well so far, haven't I? I thought I had, anyway. But it's just getting a bit much for me now.
You know that bit in the Bible about sharing in your suffering? Of course you do, you wrote it. How can anyone want to share in your suffering? I don't understand. I don't want to suffer. If I have to, I will, as I have no choice, and I'll go through it clinging as tightly to you as I can, but to stand up and say, 'I want to share with you in your suffering,' - I don't understand it. I am considering the possibility of impending suffering right now and I want no part of it. I want you to sort it out; take it away. Does this show you how inadequate I am as a Christian? Isn't it normal? I am apprehensive, pessimistic, anxious. I might have something wrong with the body in which I live and I'm afraid. I'm not embracing it with any enthusiasm. Surely that's not possible.
I know that you are my friend and that you love me. I know that you love Katy even more than I do, and you want the best for us all. I just don't like it very much right now. I've just run into my two lovely ceramic penguins with the vacuum cleaner and smashed them into several bits and it felt like the last straw.
While we were away it was easy to put all this on a back burner because life in a hotel near the sparkly sea with the sun shining and all the family around isn't real life in so many ways. I knew as we drove away and left the sea behind that coming back was going to be a bit difficult but these three days since we got back have been interminable. And now it's Wednesday night and tomorrow is Katy's appointment and then mine and I don't know what happens after that and the fact that I don't know leads me to explore the possible outcomes far too much for comfort.
I met up with an old, old friend for coffee yesterday; someone I hadn't chatted with in maybe twenty-five years; and before then when we were both at school we had a somewhat stormy friendship at times. We had a lovely time talking and found experiences in common over the last few years, and she told me that she, too had had scans for breast lumps and also had one removed. And both had been fine. You work in mysterious ways, Lord God. To bring someone like this back into my life and for me to receive some comfort from that source particularly is a wonderful thing. Healing.
It brings me back to the 80% of breast lumps are benign thing. That leaves one in five that are not benign. The likelihood is that it's nothing. I'm even starting to bore myself.
I'm tired and snappy and I've just broken a couple of ornaments that were special to me. My youngest daughter is going to see a doctor tomorrow who stuck a needle in her last time and may well do it again, before making arrangements for her to be anaesthetised while they operate on her. And then me - tomorrow has the potential to be a reason for great celebration, deepening anxiety, or who knows what? Forgive me for being cross and argumentative.
I don't think that this is my finest hour. I'm not accepting my lot with stoicism and grace, am I? I know the 'Why me?' thing could just as easily be 'Why not me?' but I don't like it. I'm not having a good time.
Take it away, Lord, will you? Make Katy better so she doesn't need surgery and when they see this lump of mine tomorrow just make it clear that it's nothing to worry about. Then I can get on. I can go away this weekend with Ruth and everyone and concentrate on you. I won't let you down. Well, I probably will, but I'll try not to. Oh dear, I'm bargaining now.
I give you all my anxiety and worry and sleeplessness and fear and uncertainty and melodrama and patheticness. I give it all to you because you know what's coming and you will be at my side when I find out for myself. Father, please hold me up and give me your peace; the sort of deep, deep peace that isn't shattered to smithereens if someone tells me something devastating. Hold Katy close as the doctor prods and pokes and talks about her over her head to me. I know she understands so much more than we think; she must be anxious and worried and frightened too. She doesn't know what's coming, and neither do I. We're in the same boat, my Kate and me. So walk alongside just as you always do and I might dare to say it'll be alright. Let us feel you with us, please. I'm Katy's mummy but I'm your little girl too.
Because I do trust you. I know that you love me and my daughters. I know that you love my Mum and Bryan and my family altogether. I know that there's nothing I could go through that you haven't been through. You did it without doubting and without whimpering. Help me to do that too.
You know, if its alright tomorrow, Lord, don't let me forget this. Don't let me forget this feeling of uncertainty and helplessness; I don't just want to throw off my reliance on you because I feel in some mistaken way that I'm back in control. I want to continue to hand it all over to you when the day is sunny as well as when it's raining. I want to be what you want me to be.
I just want to be well and take care of my children and get us through all this so we can move on to the next thing.
Lord, here's Thursday. Make it alright.