Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Plan B

It's been a ho-hum sort of week--and it's only Tuesday. Some of my blah-ness comes from the fact that my eyelashes are falling out again. I've been watching them with suspicion for several days, but yesterday morning when I was putting on makeup I realized there weren't even enough there to justify mascara. I called my mom at 6:30 a.m. crying.

Now, I know that in the grand scheme of things, eyelashes don't matter. Hair won't get me to heaven. My husband won't judge the temperature of our relationship on whether or not I can flutter my eyelashes at him. The boys won't remember that Mommy's makeup looked different from other mommies. But to me, in the here and now, it matters. It suddenly seemed to matter even more after I questioned my chemo nurse about it, and she told me that there is a very real possibility that I could re-lose the hair on my head as well.

I recently read Plan B by Pete Wilson. A friend gave it to me and wrote inside the book that it was "a good read, probably one you could've written." BD, I'm sure you didn't mean for this book to tear me apart, but that's pretty much what happened. It's been a long time since a book has affected me to the degree that this one did. And I think it got to me because the premise of the whole book is this: What do you do when God doesn't show up for you in the way you thought He would? That question is one I've wrestled with for quite a while now.
I had lots of dreams and plans once upon a time. Those plans might have looked mundane and boring to some people, but for the most part, I've always known what I wanted from life. It was simple: I wanted to fall in love, get married, raise a family, and live happily ever after. Yes, I went to college, and yes, there are days that I think wistfully of that framed diploma gathering dust in a box in our garage. Some days I think I would rather run an office than a carpool, or I would like to make money instead of cookies. But my four guys remind me that I'm living my dream, and even on the hard days, I know I wouldn't trade it for anything.
In the summer of 2007, though, my little world came to a screeching halt with a cancer diagnosis. It had never occurred to me that I could become Wife and Mommy and then get sick. Since then, and especially this year, I have had to abandon my perfect Plan A for my life and accept Plan B. Plan B means that instead of giving my family homecooked meals every night, I am ordering more than my fair share of pizza. It means that some other kid's parent gets to share a new experience with my son because I can't go on his field trip. Plan B means that my Goliath frets like a little old man when he is away from me because he is fearful that something will happen and I won't come back. Under Plan B, my husband digs through a basket of wrinkled laundry to find clean clothes. I hate Plan B.
If I didn't feel like the cloud of cancer was hovering over me so closely, I might find it humorous that God allowed this to happen to me. Really, God? Me, of all people? The girl who despises change and upset in the order of things?
"Your dreams may not be happening, and things aren't turning out the way you expected, but that doesn't mean your life is spinning out of control. It just means you're not in control." (Wilson) Ouch. No doubt about it: I am definitely not in control here. I have spent much of the last 9 months asking God for a way out, begging Him for relief. I couldn't count the number of times I have said, "I just want my life back."
Ironic, huh? I have walked with Christ for most of my life, but when we came to this, THE thing, I misstepped. I allowed fear and anger and uncertainty to creep in too close, and I begged God to give me what wasn't mine to begin with. I gave my life to Him a long time ago. I promised my husband on our wedding day that I would do my best to love him in sickness and in health--why would I do less for my God?
This season of maintenance chemotherapy is hard. I fully expected that it would be much easier, both physically and emotionally, because--hey! I survived chemotherapy! The reality is far removed from my expectations. It still feels like chemo: I am tired, I'm taking LOTS of meds, I'm losing hair. The difference is that before, life was spinning around me, and now it is trying to sweep me along with it. A lot of days I feel like such a fake! On the outside, everything appears to be fine, but on the inside, I'm barely holding it together. What I know in my head doesn't match up with what I feel in my heart.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Andy Stanley: "Every day we have this choice to make. Am I going to define God by interpreting my circumstances or am I going to simply trust that God is who he says he is?"
My Plan B isn't at all what I expected, and certainly not what I wanted. But I think maybe I'm making it harder than it has to be by over-thinking. I might not ever know why God allowed this suffering. I'm not sure why it seems that He is silent at times when I need Him the most. Maybe it's time, though, for me to pull it together. "We're called to be faithful to God even when it seems he hasn't been faithful to us. We're called to love him even when we feel abandoned. We're called to look for him even in the midst of the darkness. We're called to worship him even though our tears." (Wilson)
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenent, His blood, support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
I choose to continue to look deeper and love more, trusting Him through my Plan B.


Reckless said...

I think I need to read this book.

Jennifer said...

This book has come up on more than one blog I read, and I've been putting in the back of my mind because I know that I'm in my Plan B right now, and I'm not really sure I want to know what God wants to tell me about it. But if you can read it, I can read it. Heading to the bookstore to.morrow. for this book. And if it tears me up like it's doing you, well, then, we may need some glee therapy to deal with it.

(They are putting out a Glee Christmas album next Tuesday and I intend on getting it immediately. I will make my second action upon downloading it to be making a copy for you.

Melynda said...

I have thought about you so many times today while suffering headaches and aches and pain in my legs from strep throat and fever... knowing that I have experienced today is nothing compared to what you have been experiencing over the past nine months. Thank you once again for sharing your journey. Your story has made me question the fairness of God's plan, and has brought me to the realization that God is taking care of us, even when it doesn't seem so because we are so focused on our own external expectations of how He will take care of us. When I read about how your faith is growing in this process, it confirms that all your pain has not been useless. As much as we would all like to take it from you, the One in control is wiser, and He truly is taking care of you in every way you need. You are precious and loved.

Lisa Buffaloe said...

Oh Allyson, you have no idea what a blessing you are to so many. Thank you for sharing with us. You are a HUGE blessing!

I am praying for you and your precious family.

bhayes11 said...

Wow - you just grow wiser each day and what an inspiration you have been to me. Praying for you!

Pete Wilson said...

Thanks so much for sharing this Allyson. When I wrote Plan B I prayed that God would use it to bless people exactly like you.

Your bravery inspires me and you will certainly be in my prayers.