We all wear a lot of hats in any given day. I know I certainly do. Those hats at times can make life feel akin to an endless marathon, with some miles easier to run than others. Some miles feel like you could coast on air and others like the very next step could kill you. At all times there is the awareness of pleasure and pain, mountaintop highs and valley lows. Most of life is lived in the in-between. It is in the running lately that I have had to learn to stop for a bit, to pace myself, to even stop running long enough to process. My hats of late have included a lot of normal every-day wears such as wife and mom, and some not-so easy garbs of job ups and downs, to running a small business. Thankfully those job ups and downs have been improving, becoming steady, even good. This is all praise to a God who everyday works miracles and somehow every day I seem to forget that. All the while I have been attempting to wrap my head around my biological dad’s cancer diagnosis. Yes, I said it. Cancer.
I was reading a writing help article recently that challenged those of us with a passion to write to write about the real and the authentic. That’s probably why since early this Summer I’ve not done much in the way of writing at all. To be honest, it’s been much easier running the marathon of life and getting swept up in it’s pace than stopping long enough to process. I’ve done what I often do in a classic case of avoidance by throwing myself headlong into work or home-life. It’s no wonder that it’s been increasingly hard to concentrate. I can cry at the drop of a hat or by watching an episode of Shark Tank. Yes, I’m serious about that one. The more my mind wants to go the more I find for my hands to do. It’s how I operate when a hard valley is staring me down. To face the reality of a stage 4-cancer diagnosis in my dad is also to face the reality that life is messy, despite our best efforts, and mine certainly has had it’s share of messes. You see, I have not lived with my dad since I was in 5th grade when the state stepped in and foster care happened. I cringe a little writing that, of all things, because I fear being judged that I was one of those kids, a “foster-kid”. For the longest time I equated that term with something other than “real”. I didn’t feel like a real kid. The first time a foster family framed my picture and put it on their walls I privately cried, because I always struggled to feel like I truly belonged anywhere. I don’t like being abnormal, but then who really does? It seems much of my life has been spent working to put that abnormal feeling in the past and live as normally as possibly. I am reminded though that God also happened in that past season of life and He is still my present. It is the big part of my story that has made me who I am today and given me the love I have for God because in a world of shifting sand He was and is my unconditional rock and foundation. I have no doubt God’s hand was in it all, but it’s also true that through the years others who have cared for me and helped me “grow-up” so-to-speak have become more like every-day “there” parents while my own father has become more like a biological stranger. There have been years with little said and little worked through relational-wise, so through cancer I have been simply getting to know my dad again. We talk every day, which is a big change from seeing each other maybe once a year. I have gone and sat with him in hospitals, helped him through hard decisions and talked about everything and anything from God to how the Royals did last night in the World Series. I am learning that through everything my dad is a person as well, who has been through incredibly hard to imagine things and circumstances, much out of his control as well. I’m learning to serve instead of pass judgment. There is still a lot I can’t wrap my head around or articulate but I’m trying to leave the rest to God and do just that, rest. Today was a time-out kind of day. We stopped all the incessant activity and loll-gagged our way out of pajamas. I snuggled and held my little boy tight and played and napped. We read stories and sung songs. I took some time to sit at God’s feet. I am learning to “abide”. An intransitive verb of “abide” means to remain stable or fixed in a state, which reminds me of this verse, one of my all time favorites:
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” ~ Hebrews 6:17-20 ESV
Rest should be something we learn to DO, not just say we should do. When we actively rest, God can and does keep us fixed and stable. He provides us with strength that surpasses comprehension when all we feel is weak and inadequate. He fights for us, shelters us, covers us, embraces us. He runs for us when we can’t run any further. He sustains and carries us. Instead of worrying about falling to pieces, we should be OK with stopping long enough to let God pick up our pieces and do something incredible with them.