Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Survive or Thrive?

For thirty-eight years my life was perfect.  No, really, it was.  A fun childhood filled with doting parents, playing softball, church trips, lots of friends, and even an occasional family trip to Panama City Beach.  Those eighteen years were followed by a wonderful college experience at Troy University, then a move to Washington, DC to work for U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, then on to graduate school at the University of Hawaii - (three years in Honolulu, I told you it was perfect).  Then back to Sweet Home Alabama where God introduced me to my amazing husband, I got married at 32 and had babies when I was 35 & 36.  Life was perfect.
But that all changed in the fall of 2010 when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  She died on November 26, 2010 when she was just 65 years old and my perfect life came to a bitter end.  My mother, Jackie McCaul, and I were very close.  We talked on the phone most every day and shared all of the minutia of life.  She was my biggest cheerleader and never left any doubt about how much she loved me.  My babies were her first grandchildren and they were the light of her life.  We were having fun raising them together. But suddenly she was gone.  And I didn't handle it well.
I spent the next two years in a dark place, wrestling with the grief that threatened to consume me.  I wondered why I was so weak.  I wondered why God didn't spare me from the pain. There were some friends who told me it was time for me to snap out of it.  I withdrew from those friends.  Actually, I withdrew from most of my friends.  And as my emotional state plummeted into the abyss so did my physical state.  I spiraled into a very unhealthy lifestyle and gained a lot of weight, a lot.
My mother and I at my wedding shower:

Then, after two years - as if a switch flipped - the light came back.  I began reaching out to friends again and rebuilding relationships.  Although I still miss my Momma every single day, I guess I reached the "acceptance" stage of grief and realized that while permanently altered, life could move on. But while my emotional and spiritual healing was going well, my physical self was still a mess.  Then cancer.  And the mess got worse.
Now I find myself griped with the fear of death.  I know, I know the breast cancer survival rate is very good and I have every reason to believe I will survive this disease.  But, trust me, when you have something growing inside your body that could kill you, you cannot help but think about the possibility of death.  I find myself saying, "I don't want to die." And that begs the question, "Why don't I want to die?"  Let's face it, this world ain't all it's cracked up to be.  While there are many wonderful moments and experiences during this life, there are exponentially more devastating and tragic experiences.  The Bible promises us tribulation in this world and we have plenty of it.  Poverty, starvation, human trafficking, sickness, hatred, terror attacks, war, murder, and perhaps the worst of all - children dying.  Not to lose those of you who don't share my Biblical world view but this world is not a battle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, and the ruler of the darkness (that would be satan) and those dark forces do a great job of making us miserable here on earth.  Bottom line:  this world is a bad place.  So why do I want to stay here?
Do I want to remain on this earth to merely survive another day, or do I want to stay here so I can thrive?
Yes, I want to survive for my children.  They need a mother.  They need me to be their biggest fan, their fiercest protector, and their wisest teacher.  They need me.  My husband does not need me in the way my children do, but we love living life together.  We have plans, things we want to see and do together...and we have actually saved for retirement and I hate the thought of missing out on spending that money.
But I don't want to survive just to exist.  I want to survive so I can thrive.
Thrive.
Seize the day.
Live like you are dying.
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.
All of that.
If we consider the longue duree of world history we are but a blip on the radar, a spec of sand on the beaches of time. Not to go all deep on you but we can't waste a moment of the time we have on earth, we need to make an impact.  Even if we get 100 years on earth we don't have a second to waste.  Every moment counts.  Whether we have one year or a hundred what matters is what we do with the time we have.
Most of you haven't come face to face with the end of your time here on earth. But I have and I'm tired of wasting my time.  We are creatures of mind, body, and spirit.  Our goal each day should be to improve our mind, our body, and our spirit.  And in doing so we improve the lives of those around us which will create a ripple effect in time as we impact our generation, the next generation, and the next. And please, let's not consider this challenge to thrive in some sappy, philosophical way - but in a real, tangible, world changing way.
What will we do today to improve our mind, body, and spirit?
Casting Crowns recently released a song entitled Thrive which says in part:
Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun, make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
Its time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

I agree.  Its time for all of us to more than just survive. Chemo number three is tomorrow, now let's all get out there and thrive!!!




4 comments:

  1. I pray your day has gone well and now you have only 5 treatments left! Counting down is a great way to look at how far you have come. I admire your strength, positive attitude and commitment to defeat cancer. I pray for you, your family and medical team (they are so great at MCC). On your bad days know it means the chemo is doing it job. You have inspired us all. Gob Bless you!

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