Apologies & Gratitude… a necessary addendum to my most recent post:
First, my gratitude. Every now and then I’m surprised by the audacity of my assumption that what I write is worth being read. You may be able to understand then how I’m occasionally popped silly when I discover that so many of you assume the same. The concern some of you have expressed and the prayers you’ve prayed after reading my last post have come as great encouragement to me. And for that and much else I’m truly grateful. So I write so soon after posting to say thanks.
Yet I must also apologize for painting a picture that is not wholly representative of our reality. This was made clear to me in the manner of several emails I’ve received since posting what I wrote last week. While the actuality of both the pain and the complications of ongoing treatment is none less weighty than I implied earlier, it is not constant, and it is not the only reality. There is much good, too. I hope that this also was evident, and if not, I seek to make it so today.
And I want to explain again why I wrote the way I did, less because I feel I must validate my perspective and more because I think it will serve to punctuate the point. When I write for this forum (blogging is such a new and peculiar format), I do not know who is going to be reading what I write. To be sure, I know there will be some family, some friends, people who see me weekly, others who haven’t seen me in months or years, and others still whom I’ve never known at all, and this spectrum causes some hesitation for me as I feel I have things I would like to say to each that the others may not understand without explanation. Yet neither you nor I have the time for me to explain or even say it all, so I compromise for a priority, and often at the risk of being misunderstood.
My priority in my most recent post was to expose the contrast that often exists between appearances and reality, and to bring attention to the fact that our desire for things to be well in this world often nurtures a blissful but misleading ignorance of the pains that others regularly endure.
For instance, there are those who see me from week to week at church, or month to month at the clinic, or on occasion at a social event somewhere… it is most likely at those moments that I “look good,” as is so often said. And the truth in such a case is that I probably feel good, too. Yet because I would typically not “be out” if I did not feel good (and would go home if I began to feel ill), most do not see a reality other than the moments in which I am doing well, or at worst, bearably well.
The overriding or perpetual reality in my life may be that I am feeling well all the time, or it may be that every moment other than the ones in which I am seen are unbearable, or it may be something in between. In any case, what I am trying to address in myself (and so inviting others to do the same) is our preference to assume the best, rather than the effort to understand and address the actuality of the past and present sufferings of those in our spheres of influence and the world at large.
Rarely in our culture or our world do those suffering come to our doors (or to our minds) of their own accord. They are either brought by God or by someone who went out to get them. Or we are the ones who go out to get them. I believe followers of Christ, even (if not especially) those who suffer, are to be the latter. We are to find those who hurt, to know and understand their suffering, and to do what we can to help them. I am among those who must be convicted of this. I want to live this. And I am praying for that.
Now my actuality is what I wrote recently. And it is also that our oldest, Aedan, has had a wicked fever since Sunday morning, throwing up in our bed two nights ago, on Tylenol and Ibuprofen constantly, with mouth sores that have nixed his appetite… and it is that I am unemployed and we have financial needs we are looking to God to provide through the state and through His people… and it is that my chemo crash came earlier this week and hit harder than usual and as a result I am remarkably fatigued… but it is not just this.
There is also the fact that the primary emotion in our household in recent weeks has been happiness, in spite of occasional and intense detours from this notable good thing. This past weekend was one of the better weekends I’ve had in awhile. Truthfully, there’ve been two in a row of utilized strength and gratifying activity. While problems with my jaw have caused me much pain these past months, I have an appointment this week to see one of the more respected specialists in this area, and I’m hopeful for improvement. I’ve been offered several opportunities to speak in the coming month. And better still, I actually have the sense that God has given me something good to say.
Then of course there is an abiding awareness that God has given us such a good marriage, guarding us from many perils and pitfalls so common to couples our age. We actually love each other. More now than we ever have. We feel blessed by this daily, and by the presence of two little people flying planes and choo-chooing trains around our house.
With that I’ll mention I hoped to scribe a second part to this post, as there’s more on my mind, but weariness and the present needs of those two little people necessitate a break in the action. Or better said, an end to the break in the action. So once again, thank you for reading what I write, and for communicating the concern and encouragement that some of you do. May my efforts to keep writing (learning as I go) be down payment on the more personal expressions of gratitude that I hope to communicate to many of you in due time.
Sometimes feebly, but nonetheless securely…