That was Dr. Habal’s response to me last August when I inquired of him how long this cancer treatment process would take. A process that, thus far, has included:
Undoubtedly, further pondering would add to this inventory, but I think you get my point. I don’t bullet list the process to garner your sympathy. I do so to highlight the fact that, had I known what I was signing up for on the front end of my six months, my spirit might have initially failed me. I’m glad I didn’t know. I was fairly confident that what would be required of me would be a stringent test of my totality—body, mind, soul, and spirit. I was also certain that what I would require of my God would be a hefty portion of his daily grace, giving me the “all” that I needed, exactly at the moment of my needing it. He’s been faithful to my requirement, every step along the pathway.
But even though I lacked first-hand knowledge regarding the particulars of how this process was going to flesh itself out—even though it all seemed rather benign and surreal in that initial moment—Dr. Habal’s “six months” statement to me nearly seven months ago felt like a death sentence… felt interminable and everlasting.
That was then, and this is now. Six months have come and gone, and just yesterday I made the return 150 mile trek back to Dr. Habal’s office to benchmark the moment. There was laughter and hugs aplenty; Nurse Beth has since given birth to beautiful baby boy Caleb and was more than happy to share his photographs with us—a new life to celebrate on both counts, hers and mine. Dr. Habal was reassuring in his assessment of my healing chest wounds and in regards to my follow-up, oncological treatment at Cape Fear Valley Cancer Center. I left his office feeling a bit renewed, like I had accomplished a great feat… a freeing of sorts from my malignant pit.
And I thought about the surrender of my last six months… the brevity and longevity of its witness.
So much taken away. So much added to my daily routine. So much death coursing through my veins. So much life harboring beneath the soil, waiting for resurrection’s song. So much trauma, drama, entrances and exits. So much crying, trying, hoping and praying. So much searching. So much hurting. So much loneliness. So much loving. So much of everything wrapped up into the surrender of my last six months.
So much life yet to live because of my surrender to the last six months.
And somewhere in the midst of all of it—the best and the worst of my everything—is a sermon (as my father likes to say) that will “preach.” A homily, a witness, a testifying grace to the worthiness of a life surrendered to a “six month” process of chosen suffering so that a malignancy could be removed. So that new life could begin… again.
I imagine that all of us, if we haven’t already, will reach a point in our earthly tenures of having to surrender our lives to a “six month” suffering in order to know some healing. A “six month” process of dying to something in order to take hold of God’s everything. Some of us will walk it more heavily than others. For some, the requirement will be greater. For some, a lesser portion. But all of our surrenders to our “six months,” when given to the charge and keep of our Father, will birth a beautiful forward glance because of a backward willingness to bow down, dig in, and fight hard for the healing.
Six months of chosen surrender can author a glorious resurrection for the dying pilgrim. Six months of sacred submission can yield a celebrated renaissance that will resonate far more clearly, far more brilliantly than had not the yielding been chosen.
Six months of surrender.
I’ve walked mine in anticipation of the next…
How differently I imagine them to unfold than the previous ones. How expectantly I pray that they will. I pray the same for you, my good, pilgrim friends.
Perhaps this day you’re standing on the front side of your “six months.” Perhaps somewhere in the middle. Perhaps, like me, you’re filtering out of that season, standing on the hindsight of your surrender and feeling the depths of what it is to have known so much, walked so much, suffered so much. Wherever your heart and flesh are in this moment, I’m living proof that all of our surrendered seasons, when lived under the scrutiny and watchful eyes of our Father, will culminate to give each one of us a backward glance that “will preach” for all of eternity.
They may not feel good to you. You may not want them—your six months of surrender—but when they arrive as a certainty upon the soil of your “next,” my God and I want you to know that you can survive with them. You can even thrive in the middle of them. You, most assuredly, can live beyond them. Why? Because we serve a with them, in the middle of them, beyond them God. He has not abandoned you. He has authored you, and he will walk you through your next six months.
Thanks be to God for the indescribable gift of his continuing, durable, and fortified presence in our lives. He lives so that we can live tomorrow. Today as well. As always…
Peace for the journey,
PS: FYI… I didn’t win the scholarship to She Speaks, but I appreciate your good thoughts and prayers along the way. It’s all good.
PS: If you’d like to read more about my first visit to She Speaks, click here.