It’s been a sobering day for me. A day for remembering. A day for grieving. A day for gratefulness. A day for tears.
Five years ago. I remember it well. Most days I don’t … remember it. Most days I live beyond it. But today I take time to remember the impact and the forecast of those words spoken over my life on that day:
Mrs. Olsen, you have breast cancer.
One doesn’t forget a day like that. This is my “I remember where I was” moment that folks often speak about when recalling a turning point in their history.
A two-hour trip home from Dr. Habal’s office in Greenville. A phone call to family. A phone call to Judith. A detour to Campbell University to find my first born and a detour to Methodist University to find my second. And then home to loving arms – to a mom and dad and children not quite ready to absorb the news. And then, that trip to Arby’s with the living tree growing next to our table. If you’ve read my story, then you know about that tree and those surreal moments surrounding that hallowed meal.
And here I am, five years out—a benchmark for cancer patients I’m told. Survival rates for us are measured in five year increments. By the grace of God I’ve made it to this milestone. Soberly, I await the next one, whatever that might be.
This is my one life, from start to finish, this is it. And while I’d like to say that I’ve masterfully handled the five-year journey toward this milestone, I won’t because I haven’t. Truthfully, I haven’t understood most of it. It’s been mostly a limp toward the finish line.
But there is something – a pretty important one thing that has emerged in these past five years:
My obedience to the day in front of me.
Not tomorrow’s obedience. Not next week’s. Not next year’s. Simply (and I think rather profoundly) an obedience to the unfolding of life in a single day and my participation therein. It’s an obedience that offers more personal yeses and fewer nos; more open hands than clinched fists. Just an obedience to the day – to live it, come what may, knowing that I am deeply loved and sincerely safe.
If we know this, friends, truly understand in the marrow of our bones that we are loved and that we are safe, then we can remain obedient to the day we’ve been given. Five years ago, I didn’t know this kind of security. I didn’t recognize the depth of God’s love for me, and I didn’t always feel safe in his arms. And so he gave me the love and the arms of others, and through their touch, God got bigger for me. In his bigness, I understood (maybe for the first time) that I was covered, completely and certainly safe in the shadow of the Almighty Father who calls me his child.
And that’s something – a pretty important one thing that has trumped the scars required to get here.
Today is the day that the Lord has made. He has given it to me. In return, I yield my obedience therein. Come what may – a tomorrow, a next week, a next year, or maybe even five.
Today I raise my glass and offer a toast to August 23, 2015. I am loved, and I am safe. It is good to be here and to be sharing this day with you. As always …
Peace for the journey,