It was all going to be so perfect – thoughts on giving up for lent

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I’ve been thinking about where Kevin and I “should” have been right now.  Kevin should have been a week into his TIL therapy treatment in Washington D.C.  This was to be a huge battle, the biggest yet.  It was to involve chemotherapy, IL-12, and various other forms of torture intended to give him his best shot at a total cure.  We were geared up for battle.  We had the house cleaned out, de-germed and ready.  We had plans for the kids.  We had winter coats for the icy D.C. weather, for goodness sake.

As for me, I’d given a lot of thought about how this next chapter of the story was going to be told.  After the craziness of plan E falling apart and plan F coming together in supernatural signs and messages from God, I felt pretty proud that we’d been trusting Him and we were really going to glorify Him in this next treatment.  Pretty silly, huh?

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We were going to be in the hospital for Valentine’s day.  I was going to do something amazing, maybe some tear-jerking craft off of pinterest, and it was going to be a beautiful, inspirational little story.  We were going to go through the forty days of lent with a hellish treatment and recovery and would be receiving his first set of scans around Easter.  What an amazing story to tell that was going to be!  We were literally going to walk through the desert for forty days and then celebrate Christ’s resurection with an amazing announcement of clear scans.  I was just sure of it!  It was going to be the kind of story that people would forward on Facebook and people would cry over a video montage about it, for how inspiring it was going to be.

I couldn’t have come up with such a beautiful story myself.  I was so amazed and grateful and frankly, a little excited that this was what God had planned for us.  Here we had waited and trusted and fought for so long.  And now THIS was the way He was going to heal him.  It was going to be hard, but boy was God going to be glorified.  And we were going to get to be a part of that.  Because we’d trusted Him.  Heck, Kevin was even going to lose his hair from chemo and finally look like a “real” cancer patient.  I’d definitely need to get some beautiful, touching photos of that.  It was just going to be so inspirational.

Instead, I am sitting on the porch waiting for a bottle of pills to arrive on a UPS truck.

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Somehow, we’re not feeling quite as inspired about plan G.

Is it the lack of drama?  Heck no, we’ve had more than enough drama to last us a lifetime.  Two weeks ago, when Kevin’s liver started shutting down and we truly thought he was going to die in the next couple of weeks, I think I would have given anything to be handed a bottle of magic pills that would make him better, even if I knew it would be temporary.  But now that it’s what we’re getting, we’re struggling to even really believe in these magic pills.  It’s hard to have hope in a bottle.  Especially when you already know how the story goes… phenomenal success turns into devastating recurrence.

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We had wanted to go visit one of Kevin’s childhood friends who lives in Sacramento while we’re in the (sort of) nearby area.  The plan was to leave as soon as his medicine showed up.  I’ve been packed and ready since 8AM when the UPS tracking said the package was out for delivery.

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It’s 6PM and we’re still here.  I suppose it’s just as well since Kevin seems to have gotten a cold and is taking another nap while I watch the door like a hawk.

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I’d been sitting around all morning out on the front porch or chasing a small pocket of sun to stay warm.  I wish I could have taken a walk today, but didn’t want to risk missing the package delivery since it requires a signature.  As I’ve sat out here for most of the day, alternating between reading good for me stuff like devotionals for lent and putzing around on Facebook and mommy blogs, I started thinking about what lent might really mean for me.  I’d thought that we’d have this dramatic and beautiful picture of walking through the desert for forty days.  I pictured moments of solitude in prayer and with a “quiet and gentle spirit” giving up something really important for lent.

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Instead, we have endured whirlwinds of travel, hospitals, doctor’s visits, scans, blood draws, more scans, more blood draws, and finally, a short blip of peace for this week where we have run away.  I don’t want to go back home.  I don’t want to embrace this next season that is so different than I had envisioned.  I’d pictured new life and redemption.

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Instead we have… what?  There is something.  Something to hope for, but we don’t know exactly what it is just yet.

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I don’t want to give anything up for lent.  I just want to give up.  That’s it!  I give up!  And so I think about this idea a little more, instead of giving up just one thing, what if I really could just give up?  What if I could give up the whole idea of everything I’ve been holding in my mind?  Everything I’ve been trying to push and squeeze into some beautiful vision, purpose, plan.  What if I could just give up on everything?

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I bet the disciples wanted to give up.  After years of following Jesus, seeing things really heat up with all these cool miracles and raising people from the dead and stuff, when things really got crazy and Jesus got arrested and crucified, I bet they just wanted to give up.  I bet they thought about how perfect it was all going to be… this amazing man, the Messiah, God with us, who was going to reign as king and you know, kick out the Romans and stuff.  It was going to be so awesome.  Until it wasn’t.

I remember that moment, sitting next to Kevin in the infusion center, when we realized that all of our own plans were falling apart.  All of our dreams that we’d hung on this treatment, this treatment that we’d SO believed had been divinely led, when it all just went to crap.  I wonder if that’s just a tiny bit of what the disciples and Jesus’ other followers were thinking?  Kind of a great big, “WTF man?”  Sorry, yes I just abbreviated a cuss word in a blog about faith.  I know I was certainly pretty pissed at God.  And I absolutely believe I would have been just like Peter denying Christ to someone who didn’t even matter because I was so disillusioned.

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I. give. up.

I give up this idea that God’s got it all under control.  I give up this idea that God’s got some perfect plan laid out.  I give up this idea that I’m going to always trust Him and follow Him perfectly and glorify Him in these beautiful and inspiring ways.  Thankfully, even though I’m such a screw up with this whole perfect faith and being willing to trust part, Jesus still tells me to come.

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Matthew 11:
28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you
 rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and 
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke 
is easy and my burden is light.”

All I have to do is come to him, and then I can give it all up.  Thank God.

10 thoughts on “It was all going to be so perfect – thoughts on giving up for lent

  1. I don’t have any inspirational words for you. I don’t know what it feels like to be in your position, but I’m praying that God will bless your giving up with His peace and a sense of His presence in a way that only He can bring.

    Loving you, Kevin, Jude and Evie.

  2. Rachel and Kevin….hugs to you both and to Jude and Evie also. Giving up to look up is FAITH. After all, we can’t see the ground when our eyes are looking up. Keep looking to Jesus and he’ll direct your steps.
    ” I know O Lord that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”
    Jeremiah 10:23
    Praying always,
    Doris

  3. Rachel, I love the honesty of this post. I know that moment when we think God has written the most amazing story (from our perspective) and then things change. It can be so confusing and frustrating.

    Your family’s story is inspiration to others. Thank you for continuing to write. Praying for Kevin and you all during this season.

  4. Rachel,
    I cannot begin to imagine what you are feeling, and as I have not been a person of faith for many years, I have no spiritual authority to say what is in my heart. I only know that in the past month that I have been caring for my mother I have seen things that I cannot explain and what I am compelled to say to you now, I also cannot explain.

    Take heart! You are now in the cradle of god’s love. God is not the god of Facebook and there is no glory in suffering. Each moment that you share each other’s love is a moment that lives forever. Each life you touch with your love is a life touched by God. There is nothing to give up, your faith is strong, God works through you. The example of your love has touched my life and I am only one poor soul, think of all the others that feel your love! Take heart!

    Please forgive me if this message is lost in my simple translation. I can’t understand what has come over me but I hope that it is helpful to you in any case.

    Susanna Liveakos Brent

  5. i love your honesty, rachel.

    i don’t know what cancer treatment looks like or feels like but i do know what it feels like to want to give up. to have all your hopes and dreams thrashed so quickly. it sucks.

    but i’m here five years later and i look back and see the amazing things god has done. do i wish he had chosen to do it another way? of course. do i wish i was holding the hands of my 5-year-old boys? absolutely. i’d give my whole life for that.

    but somehow HE turns beauty into ashes. i don’t know what his plan is for kevin or for your family but i do know that no matter what, HE has gone before you. you don’t have to be perfect in faith or trust or love. you just need to rest in HIM. HE gets it even when we don’t. and in the end, all will be redeemed. and as riley’s children’s bible says “HE will make all sad things untrue.” amen.

    love to you and kevin!

  6. Rachel, that was gut wrenching, I admire “the rawness”
    I have no idea of your journey, but do understand the depth of prayers that SEEM to be unheard. My heart is heavy for you.

  7. Dear Kevin & Rachel,
    We have never met but we know you well through Helen Sonnier. She brought you before our Bible Study and we have been praying for you for some time. I want you that we are lifting you up daily, praying for a full recovery and we will never stop. Just keep on fighting the fight .and we will keep on praying with the same effort and fearlessness.

    Thank you Rachel for the updates. we so look forward to the next one.
    In Jesus ‘ arms we ask that you be held. With love, Anne & Bill Plutt

  8. Many years ago I learned the hard way that “giving up” is fatalistic and without hope. However “letting go” is spiritual and trustworthy. “Letting go” can be fatalistic if we don’t have trust. Trust is letting go when there is something,
    someone there for us to reach out for. When it is time to let go we are then able to reach out to something, someone who is there for us to embrace and move on. Hanging on is only one part of the process of life. We first hang on then let go – hang on again etc. Some people hang on needlessly and we know what happens then. Letting go when God asks us to is part of the spiritual journey of life and requires blind trust at times. God provides but we choose.

  9. Rachel and Kevin,

    I appreciate that you are sharing your exhaustion, frustration, and pain. As a Christian, friend, and nurse I am praying, listening, and hoping. Honestly, I was waiting for you to get to this point. I mean that in a good way. When we give up, that is usually when we are out of the way, and we are carried by the Lord. I do not pretend to “know” aanything, except what I have seen in many other families who express similar sentiments at or near the same point in the treatment process. I usually see them start really living again. They gain strength in the Valley. Remember that in Psalms when, “He MAKES me lie down in green pastures, He restores my soul”? It is hard to catch our breath running hills all the time. Sometimes the valleys have a flip side. I hope this helps.

    I m fithfully praying for each of you.

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