looking through me

reading ahead

Surprises don’t rank very high on my list of favorite things. I’m a fan of a timely heads up and the opportunity to prepare for what’s coming—the good and the hard.

While I’m not a flip-to-the-last-page-of-the-story person, a part of me has always wished life had that option. Wouldn’t it be great to get a sneak peek at what’s to come? Nothing too drastic, maybe just the end of the chapter I’m in right now. Because I’m sure everything would make more sense if I had advance warning for some of life’s plot twists.

I’ve even prayed for it: God, can you please show me how this is going to turn out?

But not any more. I don’t want to know.

If I’d skipped ahead a mere four months ago, I wouldn’t have believed what I read—I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be in this reality. Catching an incomplete glimpse of today would have made me anxious and angry and incredibly confused. Words like gliosarcoma, massive infection, PICC line and platelets would have rocked my world. They would have raised more questions and fears than they’d answered.

If I’d been tipped off that Dad’s lineup of doctors would be big enough to field a basketball team with a bench of reserves, I wouldn’t have understood why he needed neurosurgeons, hematologists and an infectious disease specialist, not to mention the neuro-oncologist and radiation oncologists.

If I’d read the page where I had greater appreciation for doctors saying “I’ve never seen this before” or “I don’t know” than for their hypotheses and possible timelines, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’ve always preferred an abundance of information, so how in such a short span could I become comfortable with—and even grateful for—the admission of limited knowledge?

If I’d known I would come to see waiting as a gift because I’m not ready to hear it all at once, I would have scoffed. I thought knowing was better than not knowing, but I was wrong. There’s beauty in patience. There’s wisdom in waiting. There’s peace in being present in answerless suspense.

Most days I can’t figure out the whys and hows and whens . . . and they just keep coming. But reading ahead won’t solve the riddles.

Today is all I can handle. My soul can’t carry another day’s worries or reassurances. I’ll take tomorrow’s surprises when they arrive.

Turns out, there’s great mercy in the mystery of living locked in this moment.

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tire trouble

Slogging through afternoon traffic, I saw a pickup truck with a shredded tire pulled over on the right shoulder. The sight brought back memories of my own tire-changing experience on the side of a freeway.

My tire wasn’t shredded. I couldn’t see a nail or screw or razor blade or any of the usual suspects I have a knack for running over, but something caused my tire to go from fine to flat in record speed. An hour later when I was buying a new one, I asked the guy what I’d picked up in the old one.

“Nothing,” he said.

He went on to explain that in the desert—where I lived at the time—tires more often failed from dry rot than from usage or punctures. He showed me the telltale tiny fissures and discoloration on the wall of the tire and mentioned how the heat and intense sunlight compromised the integrity of the tire.

I’d never paid attention to that part of my tires. I knew I was supposed to keep an eye on the tread and air pressure, but I had no idea the sides could rot. And I certainly didn’t know the place I lived could be the biggest reason for it.

But even if I had known my tires were susceptible to rot, I’m not sure I would have noticed it. I had to be up close and personal to see the signs. The tire was off my car in a well-lit mechanic’s bay with an expert pointing it out before it became obvious.

It’s been a few years—I don’t live in a desert any more—yet rot continues to threaten my well-being.

I check my emotional pressure from time to time. I rotate through a variety of spiritual disciplines to prevent uneven wear. But how aware am I of the influence of my environment? How closely am I looking for tiny cracks that can lead to catastrophic failure? Do I recognize the weaknesses stressing my integrity? Or am I at risk for a blowout as I speed through life?

Rot creeps up in those out-of-sight areas of my soul. And the master mechanic waits to guide me, if only I’m smart enough to ask Him for help.


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