Yesterday, I got to meet with a precious couple who helped my family and I get through the heartache of my brain surgeries back in 2005. I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since my initial surgeries… Nor can I actually fathom that yesterday was the first time I looked this couple in the eye and said the only thing worth saying, “Thank you.”
The fun part of that meeting was this couple had no idea who I was. Back in ’05, a mutual friend had voiced his desire to be at the Seattle hospital with me… And Dane and his wife stepped up to provide the otherwise unobtainable funds. The brain surgery was the main event back then, but Dane and his wife understood something a lot of people belittled: There’s no such thing as too much support when going through something as terrifying as pediatric brain surgery.
I said my thank-you’s yesterday, cried my tears, and then took a walk down memory lane. Terry, my friend who came to Seattle, passed away in 2008 from cancer. Terry and I had made bets on who would get to heaven first; though I’m fairly certain we only set that bet up in order to laugh through a pretty painful time for both of us. We were prayer warriors, we were fellow-fighters, and Lord knows, we held on to God and our families and then we all resorted to humor.
Terry’s nickname for me was Chia. It was a ridiculous joke over how quickly the steroids from the surgery made my hair grow back, but Terry seemed to only use it when he had a point to make. Calling me Chia was endearing, but it was also as if he used it to remind me that being a steward of God’s grace wasn’t something to take lightly.
During a rather sobering chat with Terry shortly after my first visit to Seattle, I learned my most valuable lesson from him. I was having a pretty narcissistic day, and Terry pointed that out in his gentle way, then shared something I’ll never forget.
“Chia, you know.. We’re not the only ones hurting. You’re hurting right now and I get that, but I’m not the only one with Cancer, and you’re not the only one with a seemingly incurable disorder. We’re not the only ones in pain. Stop acting as if we are.”
God used that to teach me to look outside myself. I’m not good at it, but it is a challenge I strive for. I’m not the only one in pain. I’m not the only one with a questionable medical history. I’m not the only one longing for God to tell me I’ve done enough and He’s taking me home. I’m not the only one who remembers being shocked when I woke up for another day.
Pain is pain. Doubt is doubt. Fear is fear. To say one person’s challenge is worse than the other is, in essence, saying one person is worth more than the other. Wrong.
We’re not the only ones hurting.