Monday, May 17, 2010

Yea, though we walk through the valley of death . . .

Hi Misfits,
Forgive me for not being on here for a while. A few weeks ago I received the news that my cousin, Linda, who is like a sister to me, had been rushed to the hospital for a collapsed lung. At the time, the doctors had no idea what had caused it other than fluid that had accumulated in the chest cavity. I remember thinking at the time that she probably had pneumonia. Before long, we were told that she might have lung cancer, then that she had a mass in the lung, and one in the breast. Our family has had three deaths already due to lung cancer, and her father and mother were two of those deaths. We were all justifiably terrified.

After two and a half weeks in the hospital, and undergoing a surgery to remove tumors in the lung, and two drainage procedures to get the fluid out of her chest, my cousin received her prognosis. She has Stage 4 breast cancer which has spread to the lung and the bone. She will begin chemo in a week or so, but no assurances that this will cure her cancer.

My first thought after hearing about my cousin was: Not Linda. Please, God, not Linda. Linda is one of the kindest, sweetest, most wonderful people I have ever known. She has comforted me, listened to me, understood me, given me unconditional love all of my life. Not Linda. 

But yes, it is Linda. Linda fighting breast cancer. Linda fighting against time. Linda who doesn't even have the energy or perhaps the will to fight, because she has had so much trauma to her body already.

I haven't been angry at God for Linda's cancer. Not yet, anyway. I won't claim that I may not feel angry at some point in this journey. I expect that I will. But for now, God is giving me the ability to bear this sorrow, and given me the understanding that when you live in a Fallen World as we do, there is going to be disease and entropy and decay and death. And these nightmares will fall upon the just and the unjust. And Linda is truly one of the just.

No, I'm not angry at God, but I am sad and heart broken and filled with despair.

So, my dear Misfits, I have been in shock for a couple of weeks. I have tried to write my blog, but couldn't seem to find any words, and when I did, there were too many of them, colliding and bouncing against the sides of my brains, into my fingers, onto the page, too, too much to throw out here. But today I decided I would try again because today I experienced something beautiful.

The first thing I did when I found out Linda's prognosis was to go on Facebook and post what had happened, and ask my friends to pray for Linda. Fifteen people wrote back and said that they would. My heart was immediately lifted, and I felt so much better. I am a cave dweller by choice, and to know that these sweet folks were praying for someone they didn't even know (Linda) and someone they barely know (me) was just so encouraging. Some people said they would send good vibes. That's okay. I will take it. Linda needs those good vibes, those thoughts, that good energy, those prayers.

Then today I got an email that I get every week, from a ladies' prayer group I visited a couple of times, telling where they are meeting. This group is part of a church we used to attend. A church where we never could find out place, our slot, our niche. We never felt really part of it. But I did attend this group a couple of times and liked it. They were nice ladies, and I kept meaning to go back, but just didn't because, well, because I'm a misfit. How, I wondered, would I fit in? What if I didn't? I didn't know if I could take the rejection again. However, they kept me on their mailing list.

When I saw the email about the ladies group meeting, I sent an email back and asked for prayer for my cousin, Linda. Almost instantly, four people wrote me back (so far) and actually prayed in the email for my cousin and her family and for me! I was truly overwhelmed with gratefulness.  As I read the kindness and the compassion in these emails, my heart began to throb with such love for them, such thankfulness, as well as those posted on Facebook.

So, my dear Misfit readers, once again it has been shown to me that there is a church above and beyond that contained within four walls. There is a Church, headed by Jesus Christ, where all may come, where all are welcomed, sinner or saint, where all problems are important, where prayers are offered up with love and concern. And I am deeply, deeply grateful to be part of that vast Church, which encompasses this Fallen World. 

(BTW, A few weeks ago I wrote something about the spiritual metaphor of Christ and the Church. I did not mean that there is only a metaphor in this most beautiful of relationships, and I apologize if that's what it sounded like. There is a spiritual reality of Christ and the Church, which is too deep for me to even attempt to explain, but I wanted to clarify my previous, rather thoughtless words.)

Sweet Misfits--I have a challenge for you today. If you feel like you don't belong, the way I feel most of the time, I hope you will try something new this week. Ask strangers for prayer. Ask friends for prayer. Even try asking those you know aren't Christians, or you think aren't Christians, to pray for you. You might be surprised by the response you get. And so might they. I have no doubt that if a non-Christian prays for you, not only is it heard by God Almighty, but that person will hear back from Him as well.

And guess what? I'm going to go to the ladies' group this Wednesday night. I am going to go and hope that somehow this Misfit may find a way to be part of such a loving group of people. And if it doesn't work for me, (probably due to my own misfitiness) then I will know that in spite of this, that these lovely ladies in this group, and my lovely friends on Facebook, (as well as the friends I have in RL) will continue to be there for me. Because we are all part of this same beautiful, invisible, uniting, loving Church of believers.

So now, my Misfit Friends, I ask for your prayers and I think you now, because I know you will send them out for Linda and her family. I will keep you all posted, and share with you what God does in the days ahead, for I feel sure this journey is only just beginning.

Also, if you have things in your life that need prayer, please post them here. I will pray for you, and I'm sure others will as well.

Misfit Tess

Update: My cousin was rushed to the ER last night, and learned she now has pneumonia. The same day, my Uncle Burleigh was taken to the hospital and has pneumonia in his one remaining lung. The other was removed when he had lung cancer many years ago. Please pray for him as well, and for healing for both he and Linda. 

"And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preemnence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. " Colossians 1:18-19