A few weeks ago I spent ten days with my parents. We had a wonderful time relaxing together, something we haven’t done in a long time, at least not without the interruptions of doctor’s appointments, nausea, or mouth sores. And since I’m not undergoing treatment, I was able to do something with my parents that I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed: drink wine. I wouldn’t say we went overboard, but perhaps it’s that after over a year of not drinking my tolerance is a bit lower. Regardless, after a glass before dinner and a glass afterwards, as my dad helped me put John Paul to bed, I blurted out, without inhibition, “Dad, what would happened if I died? I mean, with John Paul?”
This fear of who would help my husband care for my sweet baby boy, who would kiss his cheeks over and over as he smiled open-mouthed and drooling, tickle him beneath his armpits until he laughed uncontrollably, and hold him close while singing him to sleep, was something that had been keeping me up for nights. When I was going through treatment, I was still just getting to know my baby. It’s not that I didn’t love him with all of my heart, because I did, from the first minute I knew he had blessedly begun growing in my womb. But now, after we’ve had over two months to spend each day together, to get to know each other’s sounds and smells and touches, I love John Paul so much that the thought of anything hurting him or stealing even just a sliver of his happiness makes my heart beat faster and my eyes fill with tears.
Even though this fear had been keeping me up at night, it was a fear I’d only ever hinted at in conversation. I’d never actually spoken it outright, with complete vulnerability and honesty. But thankfully, that extra glass of wine pushed me just far enough that I was able to give voice to my deepest fear. Because when I did, my father answered compassionately, reassuring me that of course he and my mom, as well as my mother-in-law and father-in-law, would be right there to help Mike care for John Paul, making him feel as loved as possible. While my dad’s words made me feel much better, the truth is I’d already known the answer.
It wasn’t the answer that I needed to hear; rather, it was the question. I needed to give voice to my greatest fear. I needed to hear myself say it, to put it out there, to pull it kicking and screaming and shielding its eyes from the darkness of my mind. I needed to bring it into the light. For in the light, everything looks less scary. Light doesn’t make things disappear, it brings everything into greater clarity. It illuminates things, allowing us to see them for what they really are. And when we understand what our fears are, we can figure out how to tackle them.
I’m still afraid of what will happen to John Paul if I die when he’s young. But now that I’ve spoken my fear out loud, I’ve claimed it, and taken ownership of it, and made it less overwhelming. And in doing so, I’ve also learned to let go, as much as possible. I will do everything I can to make sure my fear doesn’t come true, but I will also let go of the things I cannot control. I will make sure I get regular PET scans and take care of my health as best as possible. But I cannot control whether or not the cancer spreads further into my body. That’s where my faith and trust in God comes in.
Voicing my greatest fear has helped me realize what matters most to me: my family, especially my son. And knowing this, I plan to move forward, enjoying life and living as normally as possible, but cherishing every moment I have with my family, and especially with John Paul. When he cries and cries and I begin to wish he were older and could tell me what is wrong, I’ll stop myself, and instead be thankful for the moment. When I’m exhausted and want him to go to sleep, but he instead wants to play, I’ll try to stop myself from being annoyed and be grateful instead. I’ll live intentionally and boldly, dragging my fear into the light, exposing it for what it really is: motivation.
My prayer for you today is that you have the courage to voice your biggest fear. Put it out there, allowing it to become clearer and clearer in the light. And once you see it for what it really is, face it head on, figuring out what aspects of it you can control and what aspects you can’t. Take the aspects you can’t control and offer them to God. Let Him take them and He will fill you with peacefulness and love instead.
Thank you for joining me on my 31 day challenge!
Day 1: Be Not Afraid
Day 2: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Day 3 Keeping a Faithful Heart in Light of Suffering
Day 4: Facing Fears with Laughter
Day 5: Listening to My Heart
Day 6: Daring to Love Myself in Order to Love Others
Day 7: Opening Up My Idea of a Remarkable Life
And click here to read all the other wonderful blogs joining in on this challenge!