The High Price of Not Accepting What Is
On December 15, I was thrown into the arena where acceptance of reality wrestles with hope and faith for the seemingly impossible. I have been in this arena before.
When I was 18, we found out my mom had lung cancer. I clung to scriptures, prayed and fasted, and refused to believe she would succumb to this disease. The day Chip and I got married (May 21, 1983), my mom was in a wheelchair and on oxygen, but she was determined to be at our wedding. I was certain God was going to heal my mom and that she would be visiting us soon in Soldotna, Alaska, where Chip and I were set to begin serving as youth pastors in June. So we set off for Alaska a week after the wedding, knowing my phone conversations with my mom would soon include something like, “The doctors are amazed! The cancer is gone.” One of my last conversations with my mom before I flew home to be with her went something like this, “Baby, I’m not going to do any more chemo. It just makes me too sick.”
Because I did not accept the reality of my mom’s illness and its inevitable outcome, I robbed myself of precious time I could have spent with her from the time Chip and I were married until she died on July 4. Had I accepted what was, I would have had time to fix her hair, listen to stories of her childhood, watch our favorite TV shows together….just be there with her and for her.
On December 15, I found myself beside my son’s hospital bed wrestling with the reality the doctors and medical evidence were presenting and the hope for something drastically different. To some who had been following Chandler’s story on CaringBridge, his passing may have seemed abrupt. I did not share every detail of his prognosis because I was holding in one hand a set of evidence that said this isn’t going to turn out well and in the other a strong conviction that “faith is the evidence of things hoped for.” I held out hope until the very end.
If you are struggling to accept a reality right now – maybe Chandler’s passing or some other life circumstance -- I encourage you to consider Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.