One thing I hate about cancer- is that it tries to steal more than health. Cancer has the audacity of a gangster, out to steal everything. Joy. Fun. Health. Life. Expectations. Normalcy. And yes. Christmas. Cancer is the ultimate Grinch. You’d think after 5 years of fighting, we’d be used to this. You’d think we’d be able to fend off the little mugger and hold tight to the things we love. We’re not. Actually, it’s getting harder as this nasty disease progresses.
The thing is- Cancer changes everything, including Christmas.
Decorating is complicated and reconsidered. “Lights outside? optional, not likely. If the batteries I ordered arrive before the snow storm, we’ll have candles in the windows. Tree? Well, I have one up, and if we can decorate it- we will. (I used to put up 3 trees.) Garland? Iffy- but, I’m hopeful.
Baking is on the back burner. It will happen if there’s time. It may happen AFTER christmas. It still counts.
Cards? Maybe for New Years. I don’t have the brain power to mail merge right now, and my handwriting is illegible.
Shopping is accomplished online. Or, will be. I hope. (Thank you, Jesus for AMAZON PRIME. Just saying. Santa’s middle name is: Amazon.) Forget about dealing with cranky people right now. I can hardly deal with my own crankiness.
All plans are “hopeful” instead of firm. “We hope we can make it.” But, we know anything can happen. It often does.
The normal bumps that occur during the holidays become sink holes. A broken fridge? Overwhelming. A missing package? Provoked tears. My spreadsheet? Confused. Hard to shop for people? More tears. I don’t have ideas. Creativity? Kinda wrapped up in other things right now. Like: problem solving pee tubes and scheduling. “Trust me, this involves creativity.)
Honestly? I’m a stressed out mess right now- so is my house. At the moment the dining room is full of amazon boxes awaiting their dates with gift wrap and bows. My freezer door is open and i’m trying to keep the dogs out of it while it thaws, in hopes of buying us some functioning before Sears can repair it. It’ so cold and snowy that the dogs are protesting complete with little signs: “H*** no, we won’t go! Outside!” (They’re kind of cute, actually, little anarchists.)
Instead of as time of fun and secrets and excitement- It’s Christmas Crazy here. And by crazy I mean I may need a little in-patient 3 day stay, for everyone’s safety. I’m trying to enjoy everyone else’s Facebook holidays. However, the pics and the pretty are just making me jealous. I’m that awesome.Christmas Music? Mostly makes me feel pressured.
Like our house without lights- I feel like a dark spot in the neighborhood of life.
This morning I was wallowing and feeling like a Christmas failure. “This isn’t what Christmas is supposed to be like. It’s supposed to be all lit up, decked out and joyous. Not stinking fridge, protesting pups and UPS furious.” Were my thoughts as i took every still frozen item out of the freezer and put it in a box.
Which is about when I remembered Advent. The celebration of the light to come and the light that came. The days will soon start getting longer. More sun, less dark. They always do. Literally and figuratively. Right now- cancer is our darkness, our winter.
Experiencing this darkness has made an advent truth even more brilliantly true and hope filled. And since I shared it during a talk and then received the same verse in an email- I thought I’d take a minute to share it with you- because maybe you’re experiencing your own season of darkness and maybe you too- need a reminder that behind the clouds of crazy is the light that was promised. Jesus. Even Here.
Isaiah 9 [a]Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Cancer isn’t the only thing that changes everything. Jesus changes everything. Even cancer. With the promise of Isaiah, we find hope. In the manger we find that hope fulfilled. On the cross? We find every mugger and darkness defeated. At his resurrection? We find an eternal light that cannot be extinguished.
Not even by cancer.
Coincidence? I think not.
Dear Jesus- you know how much I hate cancer. I hate all that we’ve lost. I hate that is has stolen so much from us and that it continues to. I hate the losses yet to come. Regardless- Lord- even in this darkness, this loss- I see your light. Help me to focus on that instead of the tree, the mess and the expectations I’m struggling with. I ask you to be present with each of us as we face our own darknesses- and that as the days start to lengthen, so will our hope. In Jesus’ name- amen.