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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sympathy vs. Contributions

I'm 31 and my Daddy still calls me baby. Yes, I am a grown woman still calling my father Daddy. And yes, it probably sounds like a country song, but it is a part of us. When I am 51, he will still be calling me baby, or sister, because that is my other name. I know, getting more country by the second.

The word you don't want to hear is that dreaded C word we got 2 1/2 months ago. He did though. Now that is a part of us too.

Before I send everyone into a panic, he should be okay. It began with a wicked case of pneumonia that led to his first prostate exam in 9 years (reminder to get your checkup). Soon after that we found out that he had cancer. Over Christmas, he healed from surgery and we hoped that we were through the worst.

Nothing happens just like we want it though. A few days after the holiday, we learned that he would need to overcome a bit more because they discovered more cancer. There has been more testing, scanning, and visits to the doctor. Today we will find out what the results of that will be and identify next steps.

Surprisingly, the cancer does not seem like the hardest part, it is all the things that are a result of it. The treatment is logical to me. There is a plan and steps to achieving it. That works for me. Daddy is strong but I can hear and feel the fear and worry radiating from him. The things you must do, like update your will, about sent us all over the edge. And I know that his mind is swirling, we are thinkers. The fears of where will they find it next or will we all be together next Christmas are what you are not quite prepared for.

At first, I barely told anyone. Sympathy may be the most dreaded emotion to me. Sounds awful, I know, but I am a helping professional. I knew I would feel the need to support them in their reaction to my emotions; that seemed too much.

My pastor posed a question recently, what if instead of expressing sympathy when we see brokenness; we asked what we could do so that we may contribute to wholeness. If on the receiving end, we must create space for people to love us. And if able, we could actually do something that makes a difference.

So I having been asking myself this question. And I was reminded of one of my struggles, allowing other people to be with me in my vulnerability. I think helpers dislike admitting when we need help. We don't all have to blog about it or shout our difficulties from the rooftop (thanks, Brene Brown for this insight), but we can let in trusted people to support us, help us, contribute to our wholeness.

The more that my family has allowed people to support us, the less turbulent the waters have felt. During Christmas, the Lassiters came by to sing carols, my parents friends stayed at the hospital all day, people have asked what they can do, and people we don't even know are praying for him. And my sweet friends, colleagues, and students, gosh, they remind me that I have a pretty great posse to be grateful for.

In the midst of this really hard thing, we are surrounded by the greatest gift, love. Not always strong but full of faith. Whatever today’s results are, I hope that we continue to be open to receiving this gift. And when the time comes that we can contribute, I hope that we give the same generosity others have shown us.

1 comment:

Rosa said...

Oh Jessica! I am sorry for what you are facing. We went through that a few years back with my daddy (yep, I still call him that too) and I so related to your sentence:

"Surprisingly, the cancer does not seem like the hardest part, it is all the things that are a result of it."

What I want you to know (besides that I am praying) is that there are great things that are a result of it too! Things like deepened relationships; appreciation for the little moments; smiling at quirks instead of letting them irritate you; a growing faith. It's no accident that this comes as you seek to pursue your commitment to grow in faith in a deeper way. The timing alone is a reminder that Someone has you and your family wrapped in arms of love. :)

And so yes, the stuff that comes with the diagnosis is the hardest. But in an odd way, it's also the best.