Life is Brutal, Man

Sometimes when I can’t sleep I give myself  “mental projects to think about.” The hope is that instead of obsessing about how I’m not sleeping, I’ll distract my brain and trick it into chasing rabbits right into Dreamland. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I quiz myself: name the fifty states in alphabetical order; list the Brady kids from youngest to oldest. Other times, I replay favorite memories that I don’t want to forget. I try to visualize the scenes like I’m watching a movie of my life. 

A few nights ago, I gave myself an assignment that may seem a little strange. I tried to make myself remember exactly what we were like just before my dad went in the hospital on December 21st, 2008.  Those memories automatically led into memories of the days that followed: the brain surgery, the diagnosis, the beginning of radiation and chemotherapy. Then I pushed myself to remember further back in time, back to my parents’ visit here last August. In my mind I could see the pictures Dad and I took during that time. Dad and I aren’t in many of those pictures because we were mostly behind the camera.  I wish I’d known to take more pictures of all of us during that time. I just didn’t know that in a few short months we all would be forever changed. Regardless of how God chooses to use my dad’s illness in our family’s life and in our lives as individuals, regardless of which side of heaven my dad receives his healing, we will never be the same as we were before any of this happened.

Sometimes the heaviness of this journey hits me like a ton of bricks and I feel like I can’t even get a good, deep breath. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of the blog post that Beth Moore wrote on Good Friday this year.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve repeated Melissa’s statement myself: “Life is brutal, man.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over, clung to, and found comfort in what Melissa said after that: “He (Jesus) knows it’s scary to be us.”

Sunday, Curtis (my pastor), preached from John 11 about Jesus and Lazarus. I could camp out and ponder huge chunks of that passage from now until I get to ask Jesus and Lazarus all my questions in person. Also this weekend,  I watched a video of Rachel Barkey, a 38-year-old mom who is living with terminal cancer, and many of the points she made paralleled what Curtis said in his sermon. I was sitting in church Sunday thinking about how death and pain and suffering entered the perfect world God made for us because of man’s sin. Curtis wondered if perhaps that’s why Jesus wept when he was told that Lazarus had died. Jesus certainly wasn’t surprised by that news and He knew that He could take death away from Lazarus. But Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters and as he looked around and saw his friends struggling with the after-effects of Lazarus’s death, he saw the terrible, ugly scar that death had left on His Father’s world and maybe he wept at what sin had caused.

All of a sudden as I sat there thinking about the ugly effects of sin, this thought popped into my head: “You see how brutal life is as a result of sin entering the world. You know firsthand the ugliness it causes. Then why don’t you take your own sin more seriously?”

Ouch. I didn’t see that coming. But I couldn’t let go of that thought. I now see that just as when sin entered the world and God’s relationship with man was damaged, my relationship with God has been damaged by my own unconfessed sin. My time alone with God has been practically nonexistent lately. I haven’t taken my responsibilities at home or with my children as seriously as I’ve needed to. I’ve given myself leeway and made excuses for my behavior. After all, the past few months have been tough, right? But this weekend, I realized I need to be honest and call it what it is: It’s sin and it’s affecting my closeness with God at the time I need Him more than I ever have before. I just can’t afford not to be right smack in the middle of His plan for me right now.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that my dad’s cancer was due to something he did wrong or didn’t do right. I know there are some that believe that sickness is a direct punishment to an individual for his or her sin. I believe that when we mess up, we have consequences, but I’m speaking more generally about how none of us are immune to the overall consequence for all of us when sin entered the world though Adam.

If what we’re going through as a family is going to change me, I want it to change me for the better. I can already see ways that it has. One of the ways that I hope this has changed me, even this weekend, is that I see sin for what it is and for what it does and I hope that I take it more  seriously in my own life.

This is drastically different from my Jazzercise, orange balls, ping pong ball bouncing posts of late, I know. But this is also a pretty accurate picture of what my life feels like right now. When I have a chance to laugh, I laugh until my sides hurt. When I think, I think until my head hurts. When something makes me feel, I feel until my heart hurts. And then I just take all those hurts to Jesus and He laughs with me, cries with me, forgives me, and helps me make it through whatever the next minute brings.  Because He knows it’s scary to be me.

*************************

On a much lighter note, guess what came in the mail yesterday?

jillian-michaels-30-day-shredSigh and dadgumit.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Life is Brutal, Man

  1. What an EXCELLENT post! I’ll be pondering your thoughts here all day. And then some. Thank you for your transparency. It’s true! I’m in the same boat — recognizing God’s truth about sin, but not always taking it seriously. Our society convinces me I “deserve” a break from the brutality, even when I know I deserve nothing more than eternal condemnation. Thank you for the wake-up call! For the mirror to look into and see how far I have yet to go.

    Oh, and I think it’s hysterical that your post title “Life is Brutal” ends with a picture of Jillian’s Shred. :)

    I’m praying for you today.

  2. carpoolqueen

    Why do we hurt ourselves even more by not going to the One that can walk with us in the pain and who bore our pain for us?

  3. Rebecca Marchbanks

    I love this blog post. It’s just what I need right now.

    I’m so thankful He knows how scary this life is.

  4. Girl, we must be in the same boat ‘cept different..that was clear as mud huh?!

    My post on Sunday with our fave song?? Came from this exact same discovery in my heart…you said it so very well, Snoodle and it just confirms that the Lord was speaking truth to my heart as well!!

    I just love ya mucho!

  5. Well, I don’t want to sound trite, but I think this experience already has left its indelible mark. In a most positive, tangible way. You are living life to the fullest. Observe: “When I have a chance to laugh, I laugh until my sides hurt. When I think, I think until my head hurts. When something makes me feel, I feel until my heart hurts. And then I just take all those hurts to Jesus and He laughs with me, cries with me, forgives me, and helps me make it through whatever the next minute brings. Because He knows it’s scary to be me.”

    You’ll get back to your quiet times, and He’ll be waiting.

    love you.

  6. I love this post.

    And I have been unfaithfully doing the 30 day Shred. Get ready sister. It’s not pretty.

  7. The title says it all. But how amazing is it that you are learning through it. Thanks for reminding me of a good lesson. He is always there, listening, knowing, and most importantly, understanding.

  8. There were so many points that hit me in this post, hit my heart and my head. In a good way. Great post and great thoughts to ponder….because I like to ponder. I think I’m the same…I laugh hard and cry hard.

    And that last part about “the Shred”….”oh no you di’nt!” Now, I’m all alone on my….trying to ignore Jillian island.

  9. What great perspective… straight from the heart of the Father, I think.

    Thanks for sharing, friend. What a great post. I wish blogger had a star feature. Because I need to come back again to this one…

  10. TEARS. Tears for you.

    But also tears for me, because even though different circumstances surround me, I am on a similar journey myself. Thank you for encouraging ME today, while you’re busy being transparent about YOU. These blog “friends” that I go back to are those that one minute make me laugh till my sides hurt and the next have me in tears because they are speaking truths about our God. And you’re one of them.

    I know when one of my best friend’s mom walked through brain cancer in this life how completely life alterating it was. It’s been a long process for my friend and her family, but God HAS been faithful to bring beauty from ashes. He has changed lives because of this trial they went through. And I have seen HUGE spiritual growth in her. What you said was beautiful. God’s care for us is beautiful. And He has something beautiful waiting for us, He just needs to take us through some the “ugly” first. You and your family are still in my prayers.

    Oh and bwaaahahaha! Sorry, I just realized that you won’t be calling us “pansies” for long…:)

  11. I’m not surprised you wrote this, for when God wants me to learn something, he tends to remind me over and over through different people and situations. My pastor was in a terrible car accident two weeks ago, but walked away without barely a scratch. If you saw the car…well you would know beyond a doubt it was GOD! His wife said if they went back, they probably would have found feathers in the car from the angels…it was that bad. He hasn’t wanted to talk about it much, but Sunday he did. He explained that it is hard to deal with the issue of why would God save him and not heal or save others in similar situations. The answer is that we don’t really know why God makes some of the decisions that He does, we just have to remember that He is control and has a purpose for everything…good and bad. Bro. David said he thought this was God’s way of lighting a fire under him personally, changing him for the better.
    God never said this life would be easy, just because we believe in Him and his mighty power, He just said He would be there to give us the strength to make it through those tough times.
    I said all of this because no matter what happens, your story is already blessing others with its message.
    Hang on girl, I think God is doing a mighty work in you right now. So hold on tight to him.
    You dad is in my prayers…and so are you.

  12. It is clear that you are gaining wisdom through this trial.

    I like the way you stated that your father may be healed on this side of heaven, or on the other side, but he WILL be healed!

    Your family is in my prayers.

  13. Good stuff, Whimz.

    I heart this post so much. Thanks for sharing. Praying for your family.

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  15. Beautiful, moving post.

    I lost my 17-year old niece to brain cancer 3 months ago. It was a long, brutal battle. But she fought the good fight and finished well. I don’t know why God heals some and not others but I do know He is good, all the time. Would I give anything to have Hannah back? You betcha. Would I trade the lives that have been irrevocably, beautifully changed forever through Hannah’s journey? Not on your life.

    Don’t give up hope. Continue to petition the Father for healing. But enjoy and make the most of each and every moment, no matter how painful. And know this…if God chooses to heal your dad in Heaven instead of on earth, He will be faithful to sustain you even when you think you can’t take your next breath.

    Also know that while life will never be the same, it can and will still be good. Bittersweet at times, but so much more precious.

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