Beginnings are awesome. Marriage, babies, graduation, a leap into entrepreneurship – all of these things mean a new start. Beginnings mean hope for the future and endless possibilities, but for some parents new beginnings bring fear. Tomorrow, Layla will begin the 3rd (and hopefully) final chapter in her treatment plan. Every day, for the next 6 months, she’ll take a low dose chemotherapy at home. We’ll continue routine visits with her oncologist and MRI scans every 3 months. They keep telling us this is the “easy” part.
We have to work hard to overcome the fear and find the joy instead. I no longer rush through bedtime, eager to relax on the couch or feel annoyed when my kids just want to be held (well, sometimes I do…I’m not perfect). I take more time to look them right in the eyes and see the love they have for me. Each day is 24 hours to love them better than I did yesterday, but some days I need a do-over and I praise God that I get it.
Just last week, a fellow “cancer mom” posted a message in a support group saying how wrecked she had been lately. Her daughter is finishing a loooong journey of treatment for leukemia, and while they are elated to close that chapter, she couldn’t help but feel terrified about the cancer returning once treatment stopped. The enemy is working hard on her. He wants to steal her joy and triumph over this terrible disease and she knows it. Good thing she’s smarter than he is!
It’s comforting to know I’m not the only parent having similar thoughts. Layla woke up the other day, and while getting ready for school, she said “my neck hurts”. Alarm bells immediately start going off in my head! Neck pain was one of Layla’s very first symptoms that we didn’t know was a symptom. We thought she was sleeping crooked or needed a new pillow…never did we think that was a sign of a tumor in her sweet head. Later in the evening I asked her how her neck was feeling. “Good”, she replied. “Good” as in it doesn’t hurt any more?? I want to ask a million follow up questions – Do you have a headache? Do you feel dizzy? But I keep them to myself. That’s the good thing about 4 year olds, they don’t dwell on one thing too long. Not like 37 year olds who can obsess for hours over one comment made by said 4 year old. The devil has my number there. He knows my weakness is my kids and my ability to worry like a crazed lunatic. I’ve learned this kind of worry only serves the enemy’s purpose of destruction and despair and I refuse to be part of that. When those thoughts creep in I STOP and PRAY. “Devil, you are not welcome here! You will not steal our joy today!” Some days I say that pray hundreds of times because I know he won’t stop trying. Jokes on him because neither will I.
We have to give ourselves permission to let go of those fears. To place them down at our Savior’s feet and walk away. Easier said than done, I know. Some of us have carried around those fears for so long that we don’t know what it would look like to not have to carry the baggage. Will we be able to move forward? Will we float away without the heavy weight? Will it change who we are? Somehow it feels better to hold tightly to what we know: fear, pain, hate, distrust. The familiarity of that weight is comforting and doesn’t require much work, or so we think. Truth is, carrying around that weight becomes your whole life. It can keep us from being the person that God has intended us to be, but letting go and stepping into that new life frees us.
I struggle with this daily. I feel God’s prompting to step into a new role this cancer journey has prepared me for, but I’m still hesitating. I have to be responsible, I say to myself. I can’t just walk blindly into the unknown without a plan. Deep inside I know that God will provide a way even if I can’t see it laid out. I pray for the courage to obey. I’m ready for a new beginning because I know it will be magnificent.
What does your new beginning look like?