My friend Gina is having surgery tomorrow to remove a tumor from her brain. She is the beautiful mother of Jude (2) and husband to Justin. And she also happens to be one of my “inner circle” people – the kind of person that I can say the truest stuff about myself to knowing that it is safe. This is a post for her and Justin, but I know that many of you who read this blog also know and love them, so I’m making it public.
It’s too bad that your first trip to San Francisco has to be under such awful circumstances. I visited The City by the Bay when I was a kid, and even then it’s so impressive in my memory. Someday I hope to get back there, but surely not like this.
It’s still hard to believe that this is happening. I remember the day Justin called me, on the road, racing back to Little Rock to be with Gina. It was such a punch in the gut. And it still is.
The night before the biopsy, the one where we took my favorite picture of us that hangs in my office, the one where you showed us downtown Little Rock – even that night you were so full of life, so yourself, and it didn’t seem real. And it still doesn’t.
And just 15 days ago, celebrating another New Year’s Eve with you (someday we’ll get through it without all the tears… maybe), it struck me that this can’t really be happening. But it is.
I know as your friend and your pastor I’m supposed to have the right words, but I’ve struggled to know what to say to you. You know how I loathe cliches and cheesy platitudes… And so, I’ve been thinking about what I want to say to you and here’s what I’ve got:
I don’t know about “God’s plan.” Some people seem to think this thing or that thing is God’s plan, but I’m doubtful. I just think it sucks. People get cancer. Good people, like you. It just is what it is. And as much as I’d like to offer some platitude about God only testing people he loves or something like that, I just can’t. When I look around at the world, it doesn’t make sense. Good people sometimes suffer, evil people prosper, and it just sucks.
But what I do know is God offers his presence. He offers to be with us. And some days even that feels empty. And so, the way that God is with us most of the time, is he sends other people to be with us in his stead. And this is the thing that I know you know, but I want to tell you again and again and again, that I am with you. And I’m not the only one. We’re all with you. Every one of us. And we’re thinking about you (today it will be almost non-stop) and we’re praying for you in whatever ways we know how.
I hope you feel God’s presence. I really do. And I’ll be praying specifically that you will. But if you don’t, I hope you will feel ours. I hope our texts, emails and everything else reminds you that you are not alone and that whatever comes, we will continue to walk with you. We wish you were here. We’d fill that waiting room with our bodies (and probably sneak in a little beer for Justin). Knowing us, we’d have to get “shushed” by the nurses multiple times, but we’d be there.
But, since you’re something like 2,000 miles away, all we can do is text, call, post, “like” you on Facebook, etc. It feels so inadequate to “like” your status when what we really want to say is “love” and we’d sacrifice so much to take it away, or to actually be in your presence.
And another thing.
The two of you – you will get stronger because of this. And not because that’s just something that I say to everyone going through hard times. I’m saying it because I know you, and I know the two of you have put in the work at doing your best to cultivate intimacy in your marriage. Do you remember the rocks at your wedding? Do you remember how I wrote words on them and we talked about building a strong foundation for your marriage? All that talk about building a foundation – that was for moments like this – moments where you need a marriage to be built on bedrock. And I know you. I’ve sat with you, cried with you, celebrated the day you told us about baby Jude. I know your marriage is built on bedrock. And I know that this experience will only make you stronger.
There are so many other things to say, but mostly I just want to say – and really this is on behalf of a small army of people – we love you, and tomorrow we will pray/fret/think about you all day.