1 Corinthians 13:12 (King James Version): For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Being sidelined is challenging.
I wanted to have an amazing junior year on my high school soccer team. I trained really hard–doing acceleration drills, plyometrics, and footwork. The extra effort paid off. As the season began, I could tell I was stronger and faster than I had been in the past. I remember scoring a goal in our first game. I felt focused and confident.
Then at one of our practices I sprained my ankle. It was a pretty bad sprain, and I missed several weeks–long enough to set me back. As I sat upright on the couch in our living room one night, an ice pack on my ankle and homework in my lap, I remember thinking, “Who would I be if I couldn’t do the things I loved?”
So much of my identity was tied up in the activities I participated in. In fact, I just squirmed a little bit at the word activities because it doesn’t seem to do them justice. (See, they still have that much power.) Spraining my ankle felt like the end of the world. I was hateful, stressed, and frustrated. Competitive sports had always been an outlet for me, and I didn’t know what to do with all of my extra energy.
God used this in my life. There I was as a 17-year-old, asking deep questions. Who would I be if I couldn’t do the things I loved? I really wondered about it. I loved to paint, I loved to run, I loved to read. What if all of those things were taken away? Would my life still have value and worth?
The conclusion I reached was that because of God’s character, my life would have purpose no matter what–regardless of my abilities. No injury or condition would be able to take that away.
Flash-forward to today. As a cancer patient utterly humbled, I’m re-living some of those teenage thought processes. It’s still easy to associate my identity with the things I do, the job I have, and how I parent. I delight in runner friends calling me fast. I love when people want to ask me questions about my job. I want to be the energetic mom on the playground. There is such a fine line between joy and pride.
And here I am again, on the couch. Having treatment-related hot flashes.
I am so thankful the first phase of chemotherapy went as well as it did, at least from a how-I-felt perspective. We were overwhelmed with help and encouragement. I was surprised and delighted, almost daily, by not feeling as bad as I thought I’d feel.
However, I hit a wall heading into the first Phase 2 treatment last Thursday. The wall was a combination of things: having almost a month to get used to normal life (and liking it), facing the reality of 12 back-to-back (weekly) chemo sessions, missing my hair, fear of future recurrence (I know, sheesh, not helpful), fear of my kids not getting what they need, decision fatigue about surgery, normal working mom stress, absence of control, and loss of identity.
Basically, I didn’t feel like my normal self. I was tired and apathetic. I cried for three straight hours. At one point the nurse practitioner kindly said, “Are you going to be able to do chemo today?” I bundled up my tissues and nodded as I got up.
Downstairs, I gestured to the patient across the hall from me that I’d “hit the wall.” She gestured back, “Me too.” We smiled tearfully at each other.
Today, the Wednesday after Thursday’s infusion, I finally feel like myself again. Chemo fog is real, people, and it takes energy and hopeful eyes to push through it. Jesus and I had some real talk last night, and it was wonderful. But man, it was a bitter road to get there. Let’s just say I was standoffish. Let’s say I’m glad the Psalms demonstrate we have total freedom to be honest with God.
Let’s say the next few months need to be about what we receive, not what we do.