I’ve had many dreams and plans, like everyone else. Yet I’ve experienced times when my world has been rocked by something huge which I never planned on or desired. Life’s forward progress, at least in my own mind, had been interrupted.
The latest one came with a name—cancer. The diagnosis that brings fear and necessitates change. It rocked our world and affected not only my spouse who had the disease but myself as I walked the journey with him. Then treatments forced it into submission. Forever we hoped and as years passed it receded to a niggle of ‘what if it returns’ dwelling deep in the recesses of our minds. We began making plans for after my husband retired. We began to live our ‘real life’ once again.
Then, when we thought it conquered and vanquished it jumped out to fight again. This time treatment options dwindled to nothing and we grieved what was and what might still be. Pain increased and activity levels decreased. More scary words entered our lives. Chronic infection. Metastasized. Palliative. They linger close by, never far from our minds. We watched life as we knew it slip away, plans for retirement with them.
How do we deal with this new normal? To be truthful, I’m not always sure. We live the truth of the diagnosis. Him with the pain. Me with watching him hurt and feeling helpless. We wait. Him for the next pain meds or the next time its better enough to visit with family and friends. The next good day or part of one. The next opportunity to make a new memory. But along with that is the waiting for it to spread more and for death to replace the pain with heaven. I wait for the other proverbial shoe to fall and limit plans yet again.
Together we grieve for what has been lost as a couple and individually along with all of our dreams and plans for this stage of our lives. Together we live one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. We muddle through, trusting God for strength enough for now. I try and be present in the moment looking for those little things to be grateful for, watching for God-moments though out it all.
In John 16 Jesus teaches his disciples things I need to pay attention to as well. In verse 33 he says, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus never promised me that our family could avoid interruptions to our plans, a lack of pain, or horrible diagnoses to deal with. But he promised peace which can only come through him because he has overcome it all. Nothing takes him by surprise. Not the diagnosis. Not the pain. Not the change of plans or the grief. When I give it all to Jesus, he will use it to draw us closer to him. We’ll grow more and more like Jesus.
I read this quote by C.S. Lewis “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day.” Real life is full of divine interruptions, some of which are extremely difficult.
What have I learned though these last few years when my life has been rocked by interruptions to my plans? I must pause. Caregiving and watching a person you love hurt is exhausting. Our world turned upside down with these changes. But God never changes.
Psalm 46: 10 is printed out and sits on my desk. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”
Time to pause, listen, reflect on the lessons I am learning. Obey God to continue to be compassionate, trust him, and write. The words might be just what someone else needs to read and be encouraged. My husband continues to urge me to go and write. It keeps me from dwelling on what has been lost and refocuses my thoughts on being a good steward of the gift God has entrusted to me.
Divine interruptions are part of my everyday life just like they are in others. Hold my plans loosely for God’s plan is greater than I can ever understand.