Silver Linings

There is no way around it. Life can be damn hard and the only way you can get through it sometimes is to sludge through the blood, guts, and crap all the while keeping your eyes open for the silver linings and trusting that God will use the hard stuff for a greater purpose.

I turned down all of the scholarships offered to me to run track and cross country in college in order to focus on my studies. At the time I didn’t think I could juggle the intense college athlete schedule and maintain the grades necessary to get into a business school. Not running meant that I would need a high paying summer job to offset the costs of not taking a scholarship. The best paying summer job in my home town at the time was working at the beef slaughter house. They hired local teens in the summer. I helped fund my education by working in the slaughter house the first two summers of college. My summer vacation was no vacation at all but it kept me motivated on my studies as I knew this job would be the alternative if I failed at college.

Man, I have so much respect for the people who work at the beef slaughter house because that job is hard….Really hard…Inconceivably hard. It was so physically demanding that there were times after my shift’s completion that I would sit at a lunch table in the cafeteria attempting to salvage whatever energy was left in me to complete the “arduous” walk to my car.  I earned every cent of overtime pay in every second on the job. It was tough to see a finish line but I would count down the days, no, I actually remember counting down the hours I had left in the summer until I could go to college and live the “easy life.”  I couldn’t wait for those summers to get over. I would rise at 5 am and by 6am start the incredibly physically exhausting job of throwing 50 pound pieces of meat every three seconds for eight hours. Then I’d go home, change out of my blood soaked clothes, clean up and take a nap until 5pm when I would eat some dinner and wait for my silver lining.

In the midst of literally trudging through blood, guts, and crap I struck up a friendship with a man who owned a bass pond. Not just any bass pound, a bass pond with eight pound bass. An eight pound bass in Colorado is the fish of a lifetime. At this pond it was common to catch 75 fish in a day. This new friend knew I liked fishing and I think he could see a little bit of himself in me as I was on the processing floor working my tail off everyday. One day early in my first summer he invited me and some friends out to his pond to fish. IT.WAS.INCREDIBLE. I thanked him profusely and when we left and he said I was welcome to come out any time. For those who don’t know me, I have tendency to overdo things. I fished that pond every single night with my friends for those two summers. That bass pond was my silver lining.

It is with this current situation in life that I again find myself up to my waist in blood, guts, and crap. While Jonathan’s tumor biopsy results were inconclusive they were able to get enough of the tumor tissue to ascertain that it is more than likely neuroblastoma.
Cancer. Breathe Danny.
There are two types of neuroblastoma. A non-aggressive one that resolves on its own and an invasive one that attempts to infest every living tissue in the body. The oncologist thinks Jonathan has the “good cancer” because of his energy and overall cheerful disposition. If it were the “bad cancer” he would be in constant pain as the beast leached itself into every crevice, organ and bone in his body. This week Jonathan will have an MIBG scan which will help to determine if the tumor is indeed made up of neuroblastoma cells and if those cells have invaded any other places in his body.  Holy cow am I really discussing and praying for good cancer?

At times like this one wants to place blame. I blame my pastor and myself.  A couple of years ago he preached about giving yourself and your children up to God. At the end of the sermon he implored the congregation to give up everything to God. However; he did advise that anyone who genuinely wished to do this better be certain because God may listen and change your life for his purpose. I was like a bass in that pond.  I gave EVERYTHING up to God. I started praying nightly for God to use us for his purpose. Now here I am watching my son fight for his life and EVERYTHING is in God’s hands. There is nothing we can do. This is entirely in God’s hands.

Mark 9:14-27 tells a story of a man taking his possessed son to the disciples and the disciples not being able to drive the demon out. A commotion ensued and Jesus asks what is going on. The boy’s dad tells Jesus about his son’s miserable existence and tells them that the disciples were unable to cast the demon out.   In my mind I see this man on his knees holding his son with his hands together begging for Jesus’s mercy. He pleads, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). It is at this point in the story that I feel Jesus offers a scoffing retort in “If I can?  Everything is possible for him who believes.” The next verse is my life. The dad says “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Jesus then heals the boy thus casting out the dad’s doubt.

Well Jesus, here we are in the blood, guts and crap. We still love you, use us for your purpose. I know your will is different than mine and I am so appreciative of the 10 months I have gotten to spend with Jonathan. I know I will never understand your will or why you allow evil things to happen, but I know you will use it all for good.  I know Jonathan is your son and I know my love for him pales when compared to your love for him, but please don’t take him from us. I too, am on my knees begging for you to take pity on us, pleading for a miracle. Please heal Jonathan and help us to rise from the blood, guts, and crap. May the silver lining here be that our story offers hope for others, may you use it for a greater purpose. I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.