I have a love/hate relationship with the contents of these bags. Monday afternoon, as I laid in that hospital bed and watched the nurse attach the bags to my IV pole, I mentally calculated how long it would take them to catch me if I took off running.
I’m not sure exactly how long I decided it would be, but it was in the seconds, given the fact that I have very little strength these days. And I didn’t want Patrick to fuss at me. So I stayed put and dutifully allowed the nurse to connect the bags into my port.
I laid there wishing this medicine was smarter. I willed it to attack the cancer and leave the rest of me alone. I prayed for it to kill the cancer and leave the rest of me alone.
Why can’t it just be good and not bad? Why does it have to be so difficult? Why are things that are good for us, so hard?
Chemo works, but it’s not that intelligent. It doesn’t know the difference between what’s good and what’s bad. It just attacks whatever is in its path.
Cancer bad. Hair follicles good. Cancer bad. White and red blood cells good. Cancer bad. Lining of my stomach good.
I have a bittersweet relationship with this treatment.
It’s sweet because it kills the cells of this disease that are trying to take my life. Without that liquid, as nasty as it is, infusing weekly into my body, I won’t see my children grow up. I won’t grow old with Patrick. I’ll miss everything I love.
But, it’s bitter too, because it’s killing lots of other stuff that I wish it would leave alone. Side effects are not my thing. I don’t like being so weak. I don’t like not being there for my kids as much as I used to be.
I don’t like Patrick having to work so hard doing everything he has to do, plus most things I used to do. It pains me to see him tired and stressed. I want to help, but most days, I’m useless to do anything that can make his life easier. I don’t like feeling useless and unproductive.
I don’t like my face. Or my skin. Or my hair (or lack of it these days.) Or my body.
Or the pain on my parent’s face as they worry and help and pray.
Many effects of this chemo are bitter. It’s doing so much to me that I don’t like. I want to run from it, but running would equal death. So I lay there. I let it infuse into my body. And I pray. And I trust. I accept the bitter with the sweet.
As the liquid peruses through the tubes, into my port, and begins to attack, I pray it does it’s job and takes away the bad stuff too, and not just my strength, and my hair, and my usefulness.
I do LOVE it for carrying out it’s mission and killing the cancer. It’s sweet to me for keeping me here for my family.
Chemo. It’s my bittersweet.
As I was laying there Monday listening to the tick, tick, tick of the IV, I was thinking, we all have a bittersweet. We all have something in our lives that we don’t like, something we wish we could run from, something we dread everyday.
However, many times, it’s the very thing we want to run from that makes us better.
Maybe it’s a job. You hate it. You fear it’s ruining your life. You can’t stand the thought of one more meeting. One more deadline. One more encounter with your boss. But, it pays your bills, it provides for your family, it makes you responsible.
Perhaps you’re a minister and you do not like where God has placed you at this moment. You’re just sure He’s missed it this time. You’re certain nothing good can come from this, but God is smarter than you. He knows what He’s doing. Trust Him. There are character traits and strengths He knows you need. There are areas of your life that He wants to make better. Remember, better never equals easy.
Maybe it’s school. You can’t stand to sit there, one more day, listening to one more lecture, studying for one more test, enduring one more moment as a student. However, you need your education. It’s qualifying you to live a better life. Don’t give up.
Perhaps it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s with a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend. You can’t imagine why God would not allow you out of it because you feel it’s suffocating you. It’s depleting your goodness. Testing your limits. Using up your resources. Causing you to question your faith. But God has you there, in that relationship with another one of His children, and you need to stay.
You need to keep trying. Keep investing. Keep hoping. It’s making you better. You don’t have to see it. You just have to trust.
These bittersweet situations are qualifying you. They’re giving you what you need to fulfill your purpose; to be who God wants you to be. It may not seem worth it right now, but these are the moments where your faith and trust in God intersect. This is where it matters. This is where it gets real.
What good is it to believe God only when we can see what He’s doing? Why must everything be going perfectly in our lives before we trust Him? We must believe, and we must trust, even when we can’t see. Even when we don’t understand. That’s what faith is my friend.
Creed talked to me about my chemo the other day. Just a little heart to heart as I was laying on the couch, wishing, perhaps even more than he, that I could get up and interact with him.
He snuggled up beside me and told me he didn’t like that medicine they were giving me. He was afraid it was making me sick, not helping me get well. Bless him. I don’t like it either.
He has a hard time understanding how my chemo, something that seems to be making me much weaker than he’s ever seen me, could actually be helping me get better. He only knows what he sees with his finite mind and his physical eyes. He can’t see what’s happening on the inside of my body. He only observes the negative effects of what the chemo is doing to me on the outside, not the fact that it’s saving my life and keeping me here with him.
I told him it was hard to explain how it all works, and I didn’t really understand it fully myself, but I trust my doctors. They know what they’re doing. They tell me, despite what I might physically see and feel right now, the chemo is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s killing the bad stuff too. I have to trust them.
Many times, that’s how our bittersweet works. We only see the negative. We can’t see all the growth and change that occurs in our hearts when we submit ourselves to do what is best for us; what we know God has called us to.
It’s hard to keep doing something day after day and not see immediate, positive results. I get that. I’m living it right now. And while it may not be chemo, I think many of you are living with a bittersweet, too.
Don’t lose faith over this. Allow this to define your faith. Embrace what it really means to have faith. Let your bittersweet teach you that.
You may not understand how your situation could possibly give you a good outcome in the future, but if God has called you into this season, this situation, He will take care of you while you walk through it. He will give you just what you need, exactly when you need it.
He will make sure your bittersweet is not wasted.
Philippians 1:6 reminds us that, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” He hasn’t forgotten about you. Trust Him and let Him finish what He started.
I know it’s bitter. But the end result, the one you can’t see right now, is sweet.