During this whole journey of cancer, I have found myself having - needing - to let go of things in order to make it through. These are things that I told myself were good things to hold onto. Things, I thought I needed - but turns out I don't.
1. The need for an ordered, clean house.
It is true, I love living in a clean space. There is nothing, hear me, NOTHING, wrong with living in a clean organized space. If I could, I always, always would. But do I need it? No. Am I a bad person or a bad mom with out it? No.
If people stop by and my house is in shambles, will they judge me or like me less? Maybe. But then, those are the kind of people that I may need to reconsider how close I let them into my life. But the truth is - MOST people are not going to like me less. MOST people are going to be happy to see that my house looks normal, just like their house does. They are going to FEEL less judged by me the next time I go to their house because they know that I am not a super mom. I'm just like every other normal mom and person on the planet.
We clean when we can. But life goes on here. Lots of life. Sometimes the living needs to take up the time and not the cleaning up after it.
Let it go.
2. My style and appearance.
Some of you might be rolling your eyes at me right now, but for me, this has been an issue. I used to not feel comfortable going out of the house without making sure I had at least a little bit of makeup on, or a cute, trendy outfit, or my hair styled in a way that made me feel confident. Again, there is nothing wrong with any of that! But I literally couldn't go anywhere, without these crutches because of fear of judgment. Did I look too plain, did I look too pretty? Was I too dressed up or too casual? What would people think of me? I don't think I even ever realized that I had these feelings, I just didn't want to leave the house if I wasn't ready. And getting ready took too long, so I just didn't want to leave the house. I know, it sounds crazy - but read the first paragraph of this blog again.
When I was going through the first, poisonous rounds of chemo and my hair all fell out, I didn't have the luxury of hiding away. I still had to go to the hospital every week. I had people coming to bring food. I had life to live, and I did it all in a scarf. My eyebrows and my eyelashes fell out. And I still had to go and do. And live. And it was ok.
I don't need to look a certain way to be accepted.
People still like me when I don't have makeup on and am wearing my workout clothes.
And those same people like me when I'm dressed up all fancy for a date.
Let it go.
3. Talking to strangers.
In the past, I have been scared of people. I have been afraid to speak up and introduce myself. I have felt embarrassed because I can't remember your name or if we have met before. I expect the worst reaction from others, even if I never, ever get the worst. I expect judgment.
This is the third time in a row I have mentioned judgement of other people. Can you see a running theme? It was time I stopped living for what others might think, and start living for what God thinks about me - even though I thought I was doing that the whole time.
I met so many sick and hurting people in the chemo room. There was one day when a woman began having an allergic reaction to some of the meds. She couldn't breath and her face was swelling and turning red. All of the other patients in the room, including me, were looking at her with pity, and with fear that this horrible thing could happen, when I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to to pray, pray, pray for her. Not inside my own head from my chemo chair, like I was apt to do, but to get up and drag my intravenous pole with me and touch her. Y'all, I was so scared to do it. But I knew that if I didn't, I would be disobeying GOD because I was scared of His creation. So I did it. I prayed. Out loud, in that chemo room full of people. And you know what? Her swelling went down and she began to breath. And I looked over at the woman in the chair next to mine, across the room and she was crying. The power of God was in that room.
His power can still move, if I disobey. But then I wouldn't get to see it so clearly.
Engaging His children is something I want to do well. For His glory.
Let it go.
4. Taking pictures.
I know this sounds like a silly one to let go. And I am not letting it go completely (as you can see.) I still love taking pictures; I love making little snapshots of art and I love looking at them to remember. But I used to take so many photos, for these reasons: to remember, to exercise creative juices, to illustrate my writing, AND to show others what I was doing and how awesome it is was, and to prove to myself and others that I was living a good and happy life.
There, I said it. I wasn't taking all of my pictures for myself and my family and friends to remember or for art's sake, but to try to appease the judgement I thought I felt from the world to BE something and DO something extraordinary and exciting.
And I am neither extraordinary nor exciting. I am an ordinary person who sometimes gets to do extraordinary things because of the grace of God, and I am just as boring as everyone else, unless I somehow get to do something that is fun and exciting. I don't have to prove it for people to like me. I don't have to prove it to be a good person. And I don't have to prove it for God to love me.
Letting this one go has been years in the making, not just from going through cancer. I have felt some unease about certain aspects of sharing pictures or thoughts online for a while. I just couldn't put my finger on what it was.
Let it go.
To sum up those lessons I've learned (or hope that I have learned - He is not through with me yet!) I will leave you with this verse that I love and am only just now being able to understand the depths of, in my own heart: "Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. You know that you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23:24