These days it’s all about the ‘To Do’ list. Tick, tick, tick. I roll into bed tired when everything’s done. Teaching full time is busy. Insanely busy and when you get home at the end of the day it starts again. Gym, dinner, wash-up, fold, iron, sit and fall asleep. I’m getting things done. I am organised and I laugh over lunch with a colleague that we indeed are domestic goddesses.
I’ve always loved the feeling of making lists, drawing lines through the completed things or ticking the little circles I’ve drawn in the column in the left hand side of the page. Anything incomplete gets carried over to the next page and a diagonal line is struck through today. I love that feeling when something is over, goals have been achieved and I’m ready for the next thing – the new day.
Yet some things just never seem to carry over or be complete after a bone marrow transplant. People say “Isn’t it marvellous, you are back at work.” Isn’t it wonderful that your daughter is so well.” I smile and swallow so my tears don’t leak through. “Yes, we’ve come along way.” Occasionally I even convince myself that its over but when the doctor calls in the middle of the day I know its bad news.
We’ve been trying to reduce the immunosuppressant drugs but this weeks blood tests reveal that Sam’s liver isn’t coping with the withdrawals and suddenly all the drugs are multiplied again. Five times the dose of one drug, double the dose of another and then another drug is added to the mix, bringing her daily total drug intake to 19 tablets. It’s a backwards step and it’s frightening and a hundred questions fill my mind.
I wait on the Lord early in the morning. I am heavy of heart, the heat from the tears that have not yet escaped, warm the bags that have developed under my tired eyes. I can feel the thud of disappointment pounding in the cavity of my ribcage. “When will this be over?” I ask, wondering for a moment if He hears me at all.
“My mercies are new every morning.” He replies. “My grace is sufficient for you.” He adds. “Be still and know that I am God.” He hovers in front of me and I place it in His hands. “I just want to tick boxes.” I tell Him. I want this pain to pass. I want this to be over, for her to be well, is it too much to ask?
I feel Him,
He is present,
He’s giving me space to process,
He’s sitting on the other settee.
He’s waiting for me to catch His thoughts
He’s teaching me how to just be.
But I want to do something.
I want to change the world.
I want to live out the dreams
I’ve had since I was a girl.
There isn’t time.
The alarm rings,
The shower runs,
I dash for coffee.
I drive to school just thinking it all through.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know when she will be better.
I don’t know. I don’t know.
Once at school I discover it is my turn to run the staff devotions. I am all tears and vulnerability. I share with the others what God’s been telling me all morning. He hasn’t called us to ‘do’; he has just called us to be. ‘To be still and know that He is God.’
Later that day I’m teaching my Kindergarten children about sentences. They have sight words to learn: I, am, a, is, the. We are trying to help them put these words in a sentence but most of them have no idea. “What is a sentence?” I ask and they look at me with fear in their eyes. As if to say “please don’t ask me.” So I try to get them started “I am a” I write on the board. Can anyone finish it?
Then one little guy decides to have a go. “I am a person,” he says and I celebrate his brilliance. The truth is I had expected a different answer. I was looking for “I am a boy, “ or “I am a girl.” I don’t know why I was expecting that, I just was. So I tried to dig for that answer. “What kind of person are you?” I pressed and hands went up all over the room. “I’ll tell you what he is,” one child volunteered. “He’s a skinny person.” I had to try not to laugh. It was delightful. I could feel tears welling up inside me with sheer joy. Then at the back of the room another child said, “I am a human being.”
It was like God himself sat in my room, in a tiny chair at a tiny table. For the briefest moment I knew the sheer delight of living. “That’s what you are,” I heard God whisper over my shoulder. “You are a human being not a human doing.” At the end of the day, when all the “To Do’s” in my daybook were ticked and the rest carried over into tomorrow. I thought again about my daughter.
I thought about all my questions and all the answers I expect. I feel the frustration of not hearing the words I want to hear. I thought about last year, how we kept hoping for a different outcome, how we wanted good results, how we wanted miracles, how we just wanted an ordinary life with three healthy children. I think about how instead of that ,we got cancer and bad diagnosis after bad diagnosis. I think that if I was God I would say a completely different sentence to the one I keep hearing. Yet even though there are so many things I do not understand, so many prayers still waiting to be answered and so many days of returning to hospital for tests I did learn one thing this week. It’s the Pareto principle. The 20% of what I do is twice as effective as the 80% and if I keep prayer and God’s word as the most important “To Do” in my day, He will make the rest happen on my behalf. I’m just going to have to trust Him 100% because He’s never failed me before.
What about you? What’s on your to do list?