This past week I have found myself having more peace than I have had in the last six weeks. It has been an answer to my prayers. That isn't to say that I am not, at times, still over come with anxiety about how everything will turn out.
That's my nature.
This IS scary.
However, I have had more clarity about all the good things that have came about as a result of Steven's diagnosis. During this time I have also felt God specifically pushing me to reach out to others. I felt him telling me specific things that I needed to do, to be in accordance with His will.
As I write this I am aware of how this can sound as if I am painting myself to be very "privileged". At least, prior to this, I know that I myself sometimes felt like others who told of God speaking to them must have some special, holier than thou, relationship with Him. Because, honestly, I couldn't hear God over all the other voices that were spinning around in my head. How could I ever begin to distinguish which one was God's voice over all the others?
Now, please know this: If you don't know me well, do not be fooled into thinking that I am some good person who is quoting Bible verses and leading prayer groups out of my home. If you know me, you know that I am deeply flawed. I gossip. I've judged others. I carry old wounds around with me, and am reluctant to let them go. I listen to "questionable" music. I have little patience. I am a control freak. When you look at me, you do not see peace. In fact, when you look at me, you don't really see anything but me.
Although, I have spoke often on this blog about God and His role in my life, do not look to me for spiritual, or religious, guidance. In fact, if you know me well, you know that God, and my relationship with Him, is something that I have struggled with for as long as I can remember.
Specifically, my first panic attack was at the age of 10, when I became paralyzed with fear that I would, most certainly, go to Hell. God could never, would never, love ME enough to save me.
I wasn't good enough.
Call it Catholic guilt.
Through the years I have become more aware of God's mercy and forgiveness, but at times, still struggled to believe that all that was meant for me. This struggling led me to seek a better understanding of God, but all within my own comfort zone.
Sitting in this hospital room is definitely NOT my comfort zone.
However, while sitting in a St. Louis church a week and a half ago, far from home and all too close to reality, I began to speak to God in what, for the first time, felt like what was a two way conversation.
The conversation has been ongoing ever since.
I guess, technically, I can not be sure that the voice that I have been hearing belongs to God. There is no way to prove that this voice is not simply one of the other voices in my head that has a tendency to place thoughts in my mind and feelings into my heart.
I myself have wondered if the things I felt God telling me were actually coming from God and even asked my friends the same. "How can I be sure God is speaking to me?" Sometimes I am hearing things I don't really want to hear. Some of the voices in my head bring worry and fear. Some have brought peace. How do I know which voice comes from God? Sometimes I find myself trying to make deals with "the voice". Bargains, if you will.
I felt specifically, at times, like God was showing me, that if my greatest fear was realized, and I lost my husband, that He would still make something good come out of the devastation. The examples He gave me were very specific. Not wanting to accept that Steven's life had to be a traded for the good, I began to willingly come forward and tell God, that I would, right now, walk towards Him and His will, and start working towards it, if He would spare my husband.
Before I returned to the hospital room, from church, one of the situations God had showed me, had already began to be resolved. I again wondered if this was God speaking to me....
If I can not be sure of God's voice, then what can I be sure of?
Although there are many things that I am unsure of, I can tell you that I am sure that the peace that has came as a result of the voice most certainly belongs to God.
In fact, I have found myself reconciling with the fact that Steven is not mine. He never has been. Sure, he has had my heart since I was 13. I dated him for 8 years, wearing him down, and eventually married the only man I had ever loved. That was almost 14 years ago. More than half my life has been spent with him. Steven is the largest part of me.
But he isn't mine.
God has loaned Steven to me, and to all that know him, for the last 41 years. If we are lucky, we will get to have him for at least 41 more. But if not, I know, that I am called to be thankful for what I am given and for what has been already given to me.
Moments after learning Steven had leukemia, someone (a nurse, an aid, etc..) came into his room on the cardiac floor of Mercy and sat with me. She hugged me although she had never seen me before and told me to lay my husband "at the foot of Jesus".
I think this week I have realized the fatigue I have caused myself, and others, clinging to the false belief that Steven was mine. I think that I have been in an exhausting tug of war with God. I have been clinging to the fear of losing something I have never truly had. God has had him the entire time. He still does. He always will.
Sure. There is still fear. Sometimes I still have moments of anxiety. However, now, they are moments. Steven is still God's. Nothing has changed and nothing will change that.
Now that I have stopped tugging Steven, trying to pull him away from the One who has always had him and whose grip has never weakened, I will just say "thank you" for all the years I have had and I will pray that God continues to "loan" Steven to me for many more years to come.
Please pray this too.
On Thursday Steven wanted me to go home to be with the kids. Although I didn't want to leave him, I gave in, and gave him his wish, and arrived in Conway just in time to pick them up from school. They were surprised and excited to see me, as well as excited to return home.
After some encouragement, I let the kids skip school on Friday and instead of heading up that afternoon after school, we left that morning for St. Louis and were looking forward to surprising Steven by arriving earlier than he anticipated. When I was less than a couple of miles from the hospital, Steven called to tell me he wasn't doing well and to not bring the kids.
(At this point I was second guessing our decision to surprise him.)
I continued on to the hospital and the kids stayed in the waiting room while I checked on their daddy. He had been taken after I left the afternoon before to have his three remaining wisdom teeth pulled. The reason given was that it would decrease his infection risk during transplant. They had given us NO indication this was going to happen. That evening he had spiked a fever and had alternated between chilling and burning up.
All of this happened in my absence and I felt terrible.
I walked in and found him sitting with a cloth on his head. I'm not even sure that it registered to him that I was six hours earlier than he had originally believed I would be there. I told him the kids were in the waiting room and he wanted to see them.
His fever broke and that afternoon he was well on his way to recovery. He has felt good ever since then.
I think the kids were the best medicine.
Many people have asked us what the plan is. I will try and explain it the best I know how:
Right now, we are waiting for his counts to recover from the chemo. We are on day 14. It could easily take two more weeks for the cell counts to come up. At that point they will do another bone marrow test and we will be able to come home.
The bone marrow test takes two days for the results to be known.
IF this round of chemo worked (please pray that it did), AND they have found a match, we could, at that point, possibly be two weeks out from transplant.
IF this round of chemo worked (again, please pray that it did), BUT they don't have a match, we could, at that point, head back to Springfield, to do maintenance chemo until a match is found and they are ready for transplant.
IF this round of chemo did not work, BUT they found a match, they could potentially take him to transplant with active leukemia. This is not the best scenario, but preferable to the other alternatives, if the chemo did not work.
IF this round of chemo did not work, AND they don't have a match.........? We just don't know. The options become a little more limited and clinical trials have been mentioned. I'll be honest, lingering on this scenario steals my peace and I have to purposefully not think too much about it.
During those times I recall the verse, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world". John 16:33 I have found that repeating, "I have overcome the world" helps me to put things in perspective and put things back in God's hands.
Please pray for healing, for continued peace, and for us.