In the past eight months I've witnessed the deaths of my father and my mother-in-law, I've lost my job, and I've wondered if my marriage was going to survive. Yesterday I learned that my baby sister Libby (and it's hard not to think in those terms; I remember the day she first arrived in our home) has breast cancer that has spread to both her lungs and her bones. Some of this has been my own (un)doing. Much of it has not. It's just life, and death. But it's been the perfect shitstorm, the kind of nightmare scenario that I couldn't even fathom, and that I certainly didn't want to try to fathom. And here's something I've learned through this hellish process, perhaps the only thing I've learned thus far: it's not about me.
Oh, it affects me. All of it affects me. I'm not a stoic, or worse, some loony Christian who refuses to acknowledge the crap for fear of making some sort of "negative confession" that would sap me of my God juice. And this is some serious crap, certainly the biggest load of desperation and dung ever spread at my feet, and the cumulative effects of these events can sometimes seem crushing and overwhelming. I'm not trying to minimize any of it. But it's not about me.
My default setting -- perhaps all of our default settings -- is to interpret life through the lens of personal experience. How does this affect me? How am I coping? But the world is bigger than that, and God is bigger than that, and while I'm not trying to ignore the impact of these events on my life, I also don't want to get caught up in navel gazing. I also don't want to escape. I want to be fully present to these times, as painful as they are. And I think I have been, and I think I am.
Here's the current score: my father and mother-in-law are buried. I miss my mother-in-law, and experience some sense of relief about my father. My marriage is doing well. I still don't have a job, or any prospects of a job. And my baby sister is in for the fight of her life. Please pray for her, and for her husband Mark and daughter Helen. And if you manage to think about me, I'll be grateful for your prayers. If you don't, don't sweat it. Pray for my sister and her family.