Personal Journey

What’s in my Mind, Besides a Tumor

The first time I recall being comforted by God, it was an intellectual decision. I was twenty and living in a section of SanDiego where you couldn’t get a pizza delivered. Too dangerous. So when I heard the following logic my heart was soft to it: Imagine you are in an alleyway in a bad section of town (my section). It is late at night. You are alone. A group of men come out a door and walk in your direction…

How do you feel when you see the silhouettes? Do you reach for your pepper spray? Click the safety on the cute revolver you hoped you’d never need? Or do you pretend (as I so often did) to be utterly unfazed by the unequal sides? As if I could repel them with confidence. Peacocking. Roarless roaring.

Now. What if you knew the approaching men just came from a Bible study? Would that change anything?

For me, it changed everything. A Bible study. The men were trying to live right. It could have been a Buddhist study or a yoga class. If I was honest, any religion seemed to have healing properties. It was a step for me toward God. I had many more to take.

Now, twenty-some years later and in countless times between, I receive God’s comfort. I’m square in the middle of a trial. Not denying that. But a lesson as well. God is my teacher. Some might say I’m ridiculous for seeing it that way. That I’m too weak to walk this journey without the crutch of faith. That my ego wants to believe in a God who loves me when science says I’m just unlucky. I’d respond that I’d rather live in ridiculous peace than in reasonable panic. I’ve done it both ways.

In my last post I shared how frightened I was by the fact that my neurosurgeon referred me to his teacher. When you can’t figure something out, where do you turn? To the teacher. That rationale, plus some ill-placed verbiage from the receptionist had me certain I was about to die. Any minute. That does things to you. You want to stop everything and hug people. You want to tell them nice things. You scramble with a squirrel’s grace into the lap of God and cling to His neck. Your prayers are incoherent.

I waited from Thursday morning until Tuesday morning to learn I was not a walking time bomb. Thursday, the receptionist told me, go today. When I couldn’t get in for a week, I figured my critical scan was sitting in a queue, unread by my neurosurgeon’s very busy teacher. On Tuesday, my regular neurosurgeon called and explained he was leaving his practice and could not be available for the post-surgical two-month infection window. This was a lesson to stop trying to figure things out. Somehow, after the places my mind had gone, generic brain surgery and possible radiation was an unlikely relief. God tells me to trust Him, to not lean on my own understanding. Because my understanding is limited, and His is not. God knew between Thursday and Tuesday that my neurosurgeon was moving. God knows the receptionist could use a class: How to NOT Scare the Hell Out of Patients 101. Words and phrases like critical and the doctor read your scan at home, go today—these would not be used.

Now. In light of my upcoming surgery, I have other fears. New and more specific fears. God knows about them as well. Did you know that Stonewall Jackson was a believer? And he would have known this verse from Job: A person’s days are determined. It was likely on his heart at the Battle of Bull Run. Jackson knew if it was his day to die, hiding wouldn’t help. He knew it so perfectly he didn’t even flinch. He stood there like a stone wall, they said. Can you imagine that sort of faith?

I’m no Stonewall Jackson. I’m more like a bird, easily spooked. Perhaps because I read and write scary stories, I see shadows everywhere. Especially in a dark alley. Squaring off with a gang of men, not only could I imagine what they might do to me, I can imagine their abusive childhoods, their fall into drugs, into gangs, into apathy. But no. They came from a Bible study, you say? I imagine the great work God is doing in them. I can smile.

I have many unpublished posts which read like a small intestine, my fear and my faith circling back on one another and all jumbled up. But I keep them and may eventually share them because I want a record of what was in my mind, besides a tumor. I want to end on a note of heartfelt gratitude for each person who reached out to me during this time. Words, much as I love them, do not do justice to how thankful I am for each of you.

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11 thoughts on “What’s in my Mind, Besides a Tumor”

  1. I love, “my fear and my faith circling back on one another”. That describes this day to day existence we call life perfectly. I have wall art hanging in my son’s room. It says, “Let your faith be greater than your fear.” It’s a visual reminder to me, day in and day out, to keep my eyes on what I know is true and not live in my own fears. Glad you are writing, I wish I had taken the time in my own trials to write. It’s so easy to forget when the sun shines again. Love you.

  2. Oh how I miss you. It is comforting to hear that I am not the only believer that struggles with fear. I will be holding you up in prayer!

  3. Continuing to pray. A couple
    of the most comforting verses that I cling to are-

    He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. – Isaiah 40:11
    And

    The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; – they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24
    Praying that you will experience God in very personal ways as he walks with you during this trial.

  4. Thank you for sharing this journey. We so often get locked into the notion that everything must be a great high or awful low – and miss the fact that the rollercoaster is important, because it’s life. And sometimes life sucks, and the fears are real, and the joy will come but it negates nothing we’ve been through. You’ve shared a wonderful gift, and I am sorry for the occasion which led you to share it. I pray all goes well.

  5. Thanks for inviting us into your very crowded and interesting brain! I love the transformation over “They came from a Bible study, you say?” Beautiful. I’m still praying like crazy!

  6. A friend and I would like to give you and Bob a night out and away if you are up for it before your surgery. If so, please let me know the evening that would work and we will set it up. You just need to get to the location. Also, We could go as far out as Amish Country or as close to home as Cleveland, just need the preference. Speak soon and we love you.

    Your sis and her confidants

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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