There are moments we cant afford to miss…the heart-seeking moments that defy questions, cancel doubts, and defeat fear. The ways God shows His attentiveness in breathtaking, personal exchanges. I see you-I know you-I hear you.
Its been forever and a day since I have posted. I’ve been struggling to find words worthy enough to share. When I last wrote I was about to embark on a new journey in my life. And although I have, I have also entered into a foreign world.
So much has happened since my last blog, and I will write about those moments. But this one is for is for my Dad.
In the Summer of 2016 I was getting ready to work a shift at Chilis. I had just applied to the Dental Hygiene program at the University of Fort Smith Arkansas and I was so close to kissing that restaurant life goodbye.
Dad had been having a few health issues and was having tests ran. No big deal, just procedure. Before I could leave the house that day I would get a call that would change my life forever. His health problems? Cancer.
The worst word and the worst diagnoses.
How could the strongest man I know have cancer? Healthy people don’t get cancer! I would quickly learn that cancer knows no bounds and does not discriminate. I got in my car, drove to work and completed my shift.
I cried the whole time, but I was there.
A few days later I got my rejection letter from the Hygiene school. Lets just keep piling on the crap….because dads cancer wasn’t bad enough news, lets add not being able to finish my degree! I didn’t know it at the time but, that rejection letter was one of the best I could have received. I had no idea how I was going to get through all of this. No idea what God had in-store for me. I wasn’t sure of much but, I was sure of three things;
- Dad has cancer.
- I was not going to dental hygiene school.
- And now, more than ever, I needed my faith.
During this time I thought, I will either run from God or run to Him. Thankfully, I had a father who taught me well. I ran to Him. The next months would be filled with questions, appointments and a diagnoses fit for a man who truly was one in a million. Dads cancer was rare. So rare that only FIVE doctors in the entire US could treat it. Our wonderful surgeon researched these doctors and landed on two choices. One in Omaha Nebraska and the Other in Pennsylvania. We settled on Nebraska since it was closer.
Although Nebraska holds fun memories, the Dr did nothing for us but pump dad full of chemo for six months and send him home with no hope.
We felt defeated, but our God is mighty.
If you recall I mentioned a doctor in Pennsylvania. (of course you do..it was only a few sentences ago) Pennsylvania is far, yes! But, wouldn’t it be great if that doctor transferred to Tulsa? And started working at one of the best cancer research hospitals only one and a half hours away from our house?
I sure think so! God did too!
Dr P (that’s what I call him because I can barley pronounce his name, let alone spell it.) is an extraordinary and humble man. If he were reading this now he would undoubtedly be shaking his head saying something like “I’m not that great,” But he is! Dr P took on dads case and said, “I think I can help you Michael”. I can still hear the hope in dads voice as he told this story.
If nothing else, my dad was a hopeful and faithful man.
The next two years would give dad a testimony worthy only of a man who could beat all odds. Two years of a community, friends and family who would step up and help us along this journey. Two years with a man who NEVER gave up and even in the worst of days would praise God and speak of his blessings.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good, he would say this often and he would say it proudly.
Dads testimony is extraordinary but not what I’m sharing today. 648 words in your probably thinking, ok? What are you sharing? Well if you follow any of my blogs you know I ramble for a moment and finally land on a point.
What I want to discuss here is Peace. Peace and understanding.
Dad passed away February 14, 2019 almost two weeks ago today. The days have seemed longer and my world a little smaller. Yet I still feel happiness. How? Why? For the last few days I have not been able to figure out this feeling of…ok-ness. (yes, I’m aware its not a word. No, I don’t care.) I find myself feeling guilty and selfish. My dad is gone and I’m laughing with my friends. My dad is gone and I’m ready to go back to work. My dad is gone and I’m looking forward to my future.
Some of you are reading this and thinking, “Your doing well, that’s a good thing!” But in my mind I should be so stricken with grief I cant move out of bed. Why am I ok? If you asks those closest to me they would tell you because I’m strong. And as much as I love them for thinking that of me, its honestly made this process harder. Makes me feel like I should keep just being strong. Keep it all in. Keep telling myself “don’t you dare break down”.
So here I am, “strong”.
It wasn’t until I listened to a podcast of a man who lost his wife and daughter to a car accident and then lost one of his sons to brain cancer that I really started to get it. I was enjoying this mans words and all the amazing things he went on to do even after all of his losses until, he said a phrase that would make me cringe. “I’m still not sure if there is even a real God”. WHAT!?!? This man had me sucked into his words for the last hour!! Talking about faith and how to over come hardship AND HE SAYS THAT!
If this were a boxing match and I was team believer and him team doubter….boy I would be throwing punches so fast and so hard you’d think I was Muhammad Ali!
How could he say all of those things and still not believe there is a God. In the mist of my internal ranting I realized I was doing the same thing. Not questioning whether or not there is a God, Oh no! I have too many testimonies for that. But I was denying and questioning a gift from God.
Philippians 4:7 tells us; and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Who am I to question the strength God has given me?
As I continue in these days I’ve decided to start telling myself “You ARE strong.” When I feel doubt I will think of this verse. I will thank God for his grace and his peace. Maybe we are not suppose to understand the peace God gives us. But instead use it to spread more peace to those in need. Many times I would hear people say “Why Mike?” Why would God choose a faithful and wonderful man to endure this journey?
The key word here is faith. And I’ve known the answer all along.
God took a man who was well loved and respected in every area in his life. He chose a man He knew would use his cancer in a way to lead others. I have experienced many stages of grief but anger was never one of them. How could I be angry when God was blessing us at every turn? So now, how can I feel guilty when my “ok-ness” is a gift from God?
I hope I never stop being strong. I hope others never stop telling me that I am. And I hope I can lead as an example for others who sometimes feel weak.
Maybe the question is not “why am I ok?” But instead, “God, what do you want me to do with the ok-ness you have given me? How can I use this to help those around me?” I will forever miss my father. And I’m sure I have not shed my last tear for his earthly presence. If you have ever experienced the loss of a loved one I hope you read this and thought of them fondly. I hope you found peace in my discovery. But most of all I hope you realized you are not alone.
Many times I have told myself, How lucky am I to have a dad so wonderful, It hurts so much to loose him.
He was wonderful and I still feel some hurt but, he is not lost. In fact, I can tell you exactly where he is. Walking the streets of Gold, Fishing in a lake filled with bass and [Hopefully] explaining to the Lord just how big my closet needs to be :).
He is not here, but he is not lost.
At the beginning of this journey I was sure of three things. I am still sure of those three things and by the grace of God can add one more.
- Dad HAD cancer. -He is now healed!-
- I’m still not going to dental hygiene school. But I am graduating college in December!
- I still more than ever need my faith.
- And last but certainly not least, I have peace.