I managed the manoeuvre without incident, settled myself in the “anti-gravity” chair and took a deep breath. It felt good just to sit outside. Two months ago today I was in the hospital recuperating from surgery that removed a mass diagnosed as ovarian cancer. Having just completed my second round of chemotherapy, it was a gift to be feeling well enough to adventure outdoors. I had been anxious to step outside the safety of my walls. The loss of my hair had been sudden and saddening. Only cosmetic, yet my bandanas now universally proclaimed to the world that I was a cancer survivor. Although their declaration was one of success, they spoke a new insecurity to my heart. My home and my backyard became my protection…or were they more my voluntary prison? I was under house arrest and personal solitary confinement.
Opening my Bible I began to read today’s passage. I couldn’t focus. Two things were interrupting me; the buzzing of the bees in the wild flowers near the patio, and the heat of the sun that refused to offer just a gentle warming. I shifted my position. I readjusted my chair. Still I had lost my concentration. Frustrated I decided to move back inside. I felt defeated and annoyed. Why couldn’t I just enjoy a simple pleasure like a few minutes in the fresh air savouring God’s creation?
“Sweet Joy, you still can.”
No I can’t. The sun is too hot. The buzzing insects interrupting.
“You have another choice My daughter.”
No I don’t and please don’t ask me.
“You have a beautiful, shaded front porch with two chairs. One for you, and one for Me.”
Oh Lord, I can’t. It’s too hot out and I don’t want to have to stop and bother to take time to put on my wig.
“You don’t have to wear your wig. You are beautiful and I will be your covering.”
Oh yes I do. If I sit out the front wearing my bandana everyone will know I have cancer.
“My precious daughter, I don’t believe even you have made that full acknowledgement yet.”
I’m frightened Lord. I’m frightened of the stares. I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been the one who has glanced and looked away, afraid of the disease and uncertain as to what to say. Do you know what it's like to wake up every morning...realize you're living the nightmare...and start the day in fear and tears? Do you know what it's like to walk into any room...even in the privacy of your own home...with your head down...so afraid to make eye-contact with a mirror and see your reflection? Do you know what it's like to look down at your laptop, your t-shirt, the pages of your Bible and have to constantly brush off falling hair? Do you know what it's like to feel your own body is a walking time-bomb? Do you know what it's like to feel sadness so deep that its cuts and scars will forever remain? Do you know what it's like living as a prisoner to a disease? How do I get past the need to understand and continue living?
“Child, you take My hand and together we open your front door and step outside. Will you trust Me? There is a world out there that still needs the gifts and talents I have planted inside you. Together you can move from backyard cowardice to front porch courage.”
Backyard cowardice or front porch courage. Which was I going to choose?
My name is Joy Brown, and I have ovarian cancer.
Yes...that IS my front porch.
A quick update! When we obey the Lord, He is quick to infuse us with more and more of what we need. After posting this blog, God moved me from "Front Porch Courage" to "Convertible Courage". Check out the Driving Diva who was cruisin' around town last night WITH the top down. :)