Two years ago was a world ago.
Two years ago I received IV chemo on Christmas Eve and dragged myself to church. I don’t remember much about the service, except that I was grateful to be there and too exhausted to stay awake. Two years ago I could barely stop coughing long enough to speak a few words and could not sing at all. This Christmas Eve I joined the music team in church, and even sang a small solo.
Two years ago the cancer centre was a scary and overwhelming place. Now I feel much more comfortable there. I know my way around, and I’ve gotten to know some wonderful people. While it’s still challenging in some ways to be there, I feel deep gratitude for the hard-working folks who make a difference for those of us whose lives have been touched by cancer.
Two years ago I started this blog with the goal of writing at least one post per month. Today I’m taking a few minutes from a busy day to squeeze in one last post before the calendar rolls over to 2016.
Setting attainable goals can be good. Stretching to reach them can be good. Often things don’t go according to plan.
The past two years, so much changed. It was hard to know how to set goals. My goal was to stay alive. My goal was to try to eat healthy food and present healthy options for my family to eat. My goal was to live each day with gratitude to the One who made me. My goal was to be present, as much as I could, with my people. To love and to receive love. To live a life of faithfulness, though I had little idea what that might look like in such a strange valley season.
Now I find myself in a different season. Still in the valley. Still suffering residual effects of cancer and treatments. Still facing ongoing side effects from past and present treatments. Still undergoing treatments. Still going to the cancer centre – four (or so) appointments spread over at least two days every three weeks. Still part of my life.
Two years ago I felt sad for and sometimes even betrayed by my body. Suddenly I couldn’t do most of the things I had always been able to do, like basic exercises, like breathing. A few times I surprisingly fell doing something I had been able to easily do the day before. Sudden confusing changes to my body. Scary times.
Now my body is increasing in strength. Encouraging, but frustrating because I have so far to go and progress is painfully slow. Often very painful.
Two years ago it was hard to make it up the stairs at the end of the day, so the physiotherapist gave me exercises to help.
I won’t bore you with the details, but they were simple things. Simple and easy for most people. Impossible for me two years ago.
I’ve kept at those exercises, working on them almost every day these past two years. I’ve seen huge improvements, but I still can’t do them well. Some days are better than others.
Sounds a bit pathetic, but it has taken me loads of daily effort to get to where I am. I’m happy to be increasing in strength and fitness rather than declining. Often I feel frustrated or discouraged about my limitations. There’s a huge gap between where I am and where I’d like to be.
I’m still far from being able to work, but my energy and capacity is increasing. I’m hoping I’ll be well enough to work, but I have no idea when that might happen.
It’s good to be clear about the difference between goals and hopes. We set goals for things we can have control over, like, “I will read three books per month.” We hope for things beyond our control, like things that require the participation of others, like, “My friend will _____________ every month.”
After my experiences the past two years, I feel like setting goals is a bit ridiculous. So much is beyond my control, and so many dreams have fallen along this difficult path. But goals can be good, and stretching to reach them can be good, so with a bit of hope and faith I’m going for it.
My main goal is to start to figure out what it means to live faithfully in this new season. Over the next couple of weeks I’m setting aside some big chunks of time for extra prayer and reflection, listening for what I’m called to, and establishing new rhythms for this new season of life.
There’s a lot more I could say, but right now I really want to spend time with my kids! 🙂
I’m honoured to have journeyed this distance together with you, and I’m grateful for your presence, prayers, support and encouragement. Thank you!
What kinds of goals are you setting for this coming season? What are your hopes?
Happy New Year! My hope is that you know deep joy, powerfully real love, and peace beyond anything you can imagine!