Well, Cancer- here we are again. It’s the holidays- and you are that shadow in the corner. You are the uninvited, obnoxious guest that doesn’t know when to leave. You’re the drunk family member everyone wishes would just pass out already, so we could take the keys from you without blood shed. You are the Grinch trying to steal our Who pudding Who- hash and Roast Beast.
For 3 Christmas’ you’ve been an unwelcome guest. We’ve done and are doing everything to try to get you to leave- from serving up obnoxious juice concoctions and organic everything…to surgery, radiation and now: starving you of the hormones you crave.
I wish I could say that we’ve dodged everything you’ve thrown. I wish I could say that while you’ve shown up over and over each year to steal our cheer- we haven’t let you. I wish I could say that our heavenly heart alarm (kind of like a home alarm system, only it can tell the difference between a cat and a burglar. And it protects your heart- not your house….and Jesus shows up instead of the police….pretty much.) has caught and detained you every year.
It hasn’t. Maybe we forgot to pay the bill.
The truth is- your repeated attacks and effects, make our hearts ache. Maybe even more so at this time of the year.
Because-it shouldn’t be this way. Cancer treatments and side effects should not be part of our holiday decor. Fear, anxiety, facing mortality, and an unknown future aren’t on anyone’s Pinterboards for holidays. Cancer is never highlighted in a magazine spread on how to host the perfect holiday. Cancer has never been one of Oprah’s Favorite Things or Ellen’s 12 days of Giveaways. (Could you imagine the audience response on that one? ) Norman Rockwell never painted a Merry Cancerous Christmas. Christmas is supposed to be all Silverbell’s and Holly Jolly.
Not, hot flashes and PSA tests and Cancer center appointments.
Honestly… Christmas has always been different form what we imagine and try to create. There have been holidays on bed rest- threatening to miscarry, holidays with chicken pox (FYI: Santa is immune.) holidays with stomach flu,holidays with grief and loss, holidays’ with casts, holidays after surgery, holidays with surgery looming with in days, holidays with family conflict, holidays with no money, holidays with overspending and a nightmare of bills in January.
All things we didn’t invite. All things we didn’t want. All messy and broken and imperfect.
Yet somehow, all still wonderful.
The year on bed rest brought friends to be with me, the season of chickenpox? Gave us a year without running ourselves ragged and we got to enjoy a quiet holiday. Stomach flu? Gets you a pass on travel and a few extra days to shop- post sales. Holidays with grief and loss? Make us more thankful for memories made. Holidays after and before surgery? Mean no one expects us to do “it all.” It’s kind of nice not to have to battle that expectation… even when it comes from my own head. Holidays with family conflict, well- they suck but conflict is part of relationship- it can even make it stronger in the long run. (In theory.) Holidays with no money- show us how little it actually takes to make a holiday bright and merry. Holidays with overspending- feel decadent and teach us not to do that again. (Again: in theory.)
So Cancer- here’s what I have to say to you: Christmas is never perfect. It never has been. It was broken before you ever arrived. From the very first Christmas- that was surrounded by rumors of infidelity and lies.Unfair taxes and taxing travel. A young woman forced to give birth in a dirty barn surrounded by donkeys and sheep while passersby gawked. (The manger scene where Christ was born was more like a circus sideshow than a private LDR justsayin.) And unexpected guests bearing awkward gifts (have you every smelled Frankincense or myrrh? PU. Also: awkward- I imagine Mary thinking: “What are we supposed to do with THAT? Bethlehem-bay it?” ) and frightening warnings….(“Oh- by the way- the king who sent us, wants your baby dead….. congrats. We gotta run.”)
Yup- Christmas has always been broken. Maybe it’s brokenness is supposed to be. Maybe we need to to be broken to remind us of our greatest need….. for a savior.
Which- by the way Cancer- you cannot conquer. You cannot steal, you cannot ruin. The savior has already come. On that first messy broken Christmas. In that dirty manger. He was born while gawkers gawked, rumors swirled and threats threatened- he brought peace.
So you know what Cancer? Merry #BrokenChristmas. There has always been beauty in broken Christmas’ past- and there will be in this one too.
- “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel means God who is living with us.
- Isaiah also gave this prophecy; “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
- The prophet Micah foretold where He would be born. “But as for you, Bethlehem… From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity” (Micah 5:25).
- It was also foretold that He would come to be the sacrificial lamb, without spot or blemish, Who would bear “the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)
- Isaiah prophesied that even though He would be “pierced through for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4-6), He would also be raised from the dead. “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand” (Isaiah 53:10 cf. Psalm 22:19-24).
Dear Lord- You know what I envision as a perfect Christmas and Cancer is not a part. I know-in my brain that perfect is not attainable- it never has been. But- cancer is NOT part of my decor and is not on my to-do spreadsheet. But lord- it IS once again a part of this Broken Christmas. I trust that you will bring beauty in and from it- because you can and promise to. I love you lord- and I hate cancer. Heal my husband and heal our hearts- in Jesus precious name- amen-
Dear Reader- I don’t know what shadow is lurking in your Christmas…. sickness, pain, loss, grief, fear un met expectations or just plain brokenness. But I want you to know this- you are not alone. Broken or not- it’s still Christmas- because of that first messy- not what anyone expected Christmas- when the savior we so desperately need- was born. Invite him into your brokenness. Invite him into your mess- he can handle it. He’s been there. If you’re struggling with brokenness this Christmas- I recommend you read “The Beauty of Broken” by Elisa Morgan- it will remind you that there IS beauty in the brokenness- and that we’e all broken. There is no perfect family- not one.
14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,f Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4)