05.03.17

Real Life Featuring Melodie Webb

We Choose Love

My friends asked me to share how I have overcome fear.  I was hesitant of the opportunity and have really (seriously, really) struggled with this task.  In a conversation with my daughter about wishing I hadn’t accepted, she helped me to discover why all of the other dozen drafts weren’t acceptable and had been scrapped.

 

I can’t share with you how I have overcome fear … because I haven’t.

 

Before I shed light on that reality … I’ll share with you who I am.

 

I’m a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother (Mimi, in my case) to some of the most beautiful souls who have ever graced the planet.  My blessings are numerous, my cup overflowing.  I know the privilege to love and be loved and I cherish life.

 

Family is everything to me.  Always has been, always will be.  I wanted a dozen children – I wanted to be surrounded by mess and noise and beautiful people to love and fuss over.  I was an author, public speaker, and creator of games on the subject of close, happy families and I did my best as an intentional mother to practice what I preached.

 

4 children laying on ground

 

23 years ago today, 9 days after the due date of a particularly long and challenging pregnancy, my baby daughter (and final child) was born.  I was instantly and irreversibly smitten with her silken hair, soft blue eyes, and chubby cheeks.  She was perfect in every way, and although only my 4th child, she completed me.  And, it was a full, ample, exquisite complete and we lived life accordingly.  As with my other children, I added one more person I now suddenly could not live without.

 

baby on tummy

http://ap.lijit.com/www/delivery/vst.php?zoneid=470620

 

It doesn’t mean we didn’t have our fair share of difficulty, or even at times what seemed to be an unfair share of difficulty.  We just had a lot to live for and we worked hard at what didn’t come easily.

 

I had an aversion to fear.  Quite frankly, it scared me, so I tried hard not to ever experience it. I shut out thoughts of the horrors of losing any of my children, and taught them to eat their vegetables, wear a helmet and/or seat belt, and what to do in the case of fire.  Our basement had a room stock-piled with enough emergency food, water, candles, and toilet paper to keep at least 5 families our size safe in a disaster.  We would have all we needed in the event (God forbid) that we experienced tragedy.

 

 

With my children taught how to turn off the water to the house, passwords memorized to avoid danger with strangers, and my absolute assurance that there was no such thing as monsters to come and take them in the night, they were always tucked safely into bed with a hug and kiss after prayers to keep us safe from harm or accident.  We never went without saying “I love you, goodnight.”  It was our safe haven, and that safety was assured by our preparation, good choices, and blessings from heaven.

 

Even when I was “brave” enough to pray that I could accept God’s will if it were otherwise, I could never quite end it there and would have to choke out a quick tag line …

 

“But, please … just don’t let it hurt.”

 

Fair weather fan of life, … that’s me.

 

kids on slide

 

Unfortunately, life isn’t all fair weather.  And, fair weather was my life without the reality of something to be truly, genuinely afraid ofI characterize our life into two phases now, “before fear” and “since”.  And, the reality is that you can’t ever really experience courage until real fear is staring you in the face.

 

You see, I had lied about monsters coming in the night and nothing in the basement storage room could have prevented or prepared our precious family for the fearful and heart-wrenching tragedy staring each of us in the face.

 

child jumping into water

 

We now would experience something of which to be horribly, shake in your boots afraid.  That precious baby daughter who was born 23 years ago today had a rare Childhood Cancer.  So rare in fact, that there have only been 200 known cases a year, but so horribly vicious, that it is one of the leading killers amongst all far more prevalent cancers.  5 children (including her) in history have survived a second onset, and of those, none recurred in such vital places as hers.  She is the only one in history to have beaten it three times.  There isn’t a survivor of a 4th onset.  Hers set in for the 4th and final time as she began her sophomore year in high school.  The beast was just unrelenting; no matter how many times she claimed a clean and solid victory over it.  How something so vile found its way into something so perfect is simply beyond me.  How my thinking that basement storage could prevent or prepare for any disaster and grant us freedom from fear is also simply beyond me.

 

family picture in leaves

 

The battle was fierce and intense and full of fear.  There was reason for it.  Fear wasn’t a sin against our faith; it wasn’t a weakness, or an error in judgment.  It was exactly the emotion connected to watching her go through what she had to go through.  No one could anticipate any different.  The love we felt for her was inseparably connected with the fear of losing her … of having to live without her.   The horror was real. It wasn’t just scary; it was terrifying.

 

And then, she slipped through our fingers and returned to the God who gave her life.

 

beautiful girl

 

And, we were left to pick up the pieces of ourselves, to somehow discover “how” to live without her.

 

In doing so, we see that some fear will remain a part of our story, for it is inseparably connected with loving each other.  So, we will embrace it, for it drew us closer to the One who overcame death and hell by his Grace, matchless Mercy, and eternal Love.  Experiencing fear has made us more intimately, personally, and profoundly familiar with the infinite Hope engraved in his hands.

 

We didn’t overcome fear, but Jesus Christ has, and he will, just as he promised.  I have scooped up all my ashes that he has promised me beauty for.  And, my feet prepare for the day He trades my mourning for dancing.

 

And, I do not fear that He keeps His promises.

 

I wasn’t preserved knowing profound heartache and sacrifice, or prevented from knowing gripping fear.  I wasn’t prepared for the profound sorrow and grief that is so intertwined in my story.  There wasn’t chemotherapy in the basement, or a sturdy enough password to keep the monsters out of our dark … but there was a foundation of belief and an experience of his love that assures us a joyous reunion with her again one day.

 

While we grieve in a society that tries to stifle it, we continue to embrace the hard emotions that come with life’s experience.  We’ve learned that they are most often associated with loving an angel gone too soon from this life.  So, while it is hard for some to understand, we aren’t trying to “get over it.”  We believe that grief is not something we travel through; it is something we will travel with.  And, while my prayers asked for a pain-free life, it was as nonsensical as asking for a love-free life.  The privilege to love and be loved also intrinsically accompanies this exhilarating journey of life.  Thank heavens (and the CEO thereof) He doesn’t intend to take away our love just to free us of pain or fear ….

While for now it may seem daunting, painful, and often frightening, for me and my house: we choose love.

mother and daughter together

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