Living in the unexpected can be hard, but also good. It lets you see things differently than you would have before. The last 2 months have been hard. It’s the in between part where I don’t know where I fit. Am I still a cancer patient? How do I enter into “normal” life again when I feel so different than I was before?
The last two months have forced me to ask myself hard questions so I can better understand what is happening on the inside of me.
When I went for my last chemotherapy treatment, my oncologist said “now that we are through this phase the next year will be about survivorship.” I had no idea what she was really talking about then. That word in itself holds so much meaning for me now. There is a piece of it that is very practical for my medical care plan, but the word itself.
Survivorship. It represents the battles I have fought, the pain I have suffered, the losses I have experienced. I have been fighting hard for something, and that something is my life.
All those things make me a survivor. There are battle scars from that. I can’t snap my fingers and have life be what it was before and there is no fast forward button for any of this.
In the book of Mark chapter 10 in the Bible there is a story of a man named Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who was used to existing on the side of the road. He heard Jesus and a crowd pass by as Jesus was on his way out of Jericho. He cried out “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me!” He didn’t just meekly ask for a life changing experience from Jesus. He persisted and wouldn’t give up asking and believed it could be done. Everyone around him shushed him. They had no value for this man. Most likely he had been ignored for years there on the side of the road. His blindness crippling his life.
Jesus stops and says “Call him”. Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, probably one of the few things he owned, and jumped up. Someone had noticed him and it was Jesus, the one he had been waiting for. Jesus begins the conversation by asking “What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asks, he doesn’t tell. Bartimaeus responded with confidence “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go”, says Jesus, “your faith has healed you. Immediately he received his sight and began to follow Jesus along the road. No longer was he sitting while everyone else passed by him. He was now on a journey himself, because he could see.
In one of my counseling sessions a few years ago, my counselor kindly asked, “What do you want Katie?” I couldn’t answer her question. I had become so distracted by everyone else around me and pleasing them, that I had lost myself, my agency. I think I had also fallen into a trap of believing that being acutely aware of what I wanted meant I might be selfish. I realized that day the value of understanding myself.
Understanding what is going on with me isn’t being selfish. Being aware of these things is a kindness to me and those around me. It stops me from guessing and stops them from guessing with me.
Maybe I’ve been going through life blind; mostly blind to myself. If I were asked what I want Jesus to do for me, I would agree with Bartimaeus and say, open my eyes so that I can see. Let me see everything you placed inside of me and around me. Let me honor you by nurturing those things and expressing them just as you planned. I want to see everything, everything I’m missing. Don’t let me walk through life blind, sitting on the side of the road. I don’t want to choose not to see because it’s too painful.
Jesus says to you and to me. “What do you want me to do for you?” This isn’t about a new car, new job or a better status. It’s about the real you, the things that matter, the person that you are becoming. The way you operate in the world. In what way can Jesus open our blind eyes to see?
This may require us to look straight into our brokenness and into the darker places of who we are. It may require a willingness to stop ignoring them, to stop being blind to them and actually have the courage to pass through them. This process is called transformation.
Without transformation we stay the same. The perceptions that have helped us before are no longer helpful for what is in front of us. We have to shed those old beliefs and ways of thinking that allow us to protect ourselves, that relentlessly cover up the sacred person that we are. It can be one of the scariest things we do. Allowing who we really are to be visible for others to see and accept or reject.
I don’t have just one chance to call out for Jesus by the side of the road as he passes by. He is a heartbeat and a prayer away. This phase of my cancer journey is filled with more questions than answers right now. I like to have answers, I like to have a plan because it makes me feel secure. Neither exist for me today. I could force those things, but I don’t want to. The process of transformation is too valuable to me. I want to heal and that healing comes from seeing. Open my eyes so that I can see.