It was a year ago today that I laid flat on my stomach on the operating table and had my cancer removed from my upper back. I had no idea what the next year would hold for me, or for that matter, what the following few weeks would hold. Would the phone call be to say that they had gotten it all in surgery, or would it be that we didn't catch it early enough and it had spread to my lymph nodes?
You don't ever forget defining moments like that - the ones that bring into crystal clear focus just how much we are not in control. I thought of my children, my husband, my dreams for our lives and I thought of all the people who had been on that same table thinking those very same thoughts. We all think we are invincible, with nothing but time on our hands to do with as we please. Really, our lives are barely just a breath.
The phone call with the results came one agonizing week later. The nurse said the labs showed they got it all. No need for chemo or radiation - only doctor visits for the rest of my life. And just like that - I had my life handed right back to me.
I remember all the questions and the "what if's" from the time of diagnosis to the time of prognosis. There was just so much we did not know.
Here I sit one year later, and you know the funny thing? There is still just so much I don't know. While my health issues may be cleared up, there's a lot in my life that's not. I have a lot of questions about things that have happened as well as things that haven't happened yet.
My husband has frequently talked about learning to live in the question or the mystery. For a long time, I just chalked that kind of talk up to his philosophy degree. :) I didn't live in the question! Pftt... I was living my plan! Haha... don't you just love the illusion of control?!
But now I've come to realize that one of the most beautiful and freeing things about my faith in God is that I don't know very much at all. I have few answers, but the ones I do have keep me steady on my journey into the unknown. There was a time when not knowing where I was going next or not having an answer for issues of faith would have been totally unacceptable to me. Now, I find that there's no other place I'd rather be living than in the question. How boring would life be if I had all the answers ahead of time and felt like I knew all of God there was to know?
This life is an adventure, not a checklist. These days I'm leaning into all the question marks and am actually excited about them. The question marks are what teach more about just how much God loves us and just how much we can trust him.
I am thankful for my cancer scare. It jolted me back to reality and caused me to get really clear about the things that are important to me and how I spend my time. I often think about what my life would be like if the news I got after surgery was different. And you know what? I really do believe that while my voice may have been a bit more fragile, it still would have spoken the words "God is always good. And we are always loved." I'm so grateful today for a God who has been to all the dark places and knows how to travel them with us. We are just never, ever alone.