Friday, July 13, 2012

Feeling Exiled

Let me get this out of the way. I hate this blog. I hate that it exists. I hate that we have to use it to communicate about what our lives have become over the past month. I hate what texting and social media have turned us into.

I say all this because the past month has gradually felt like an exile from our previous life. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support our way and we feel more loved than we ever have. But, at the same, I feel more isolated than I ever have felt in a very long time. Esther has been in our home for 2 nights out of the last 19 days. I have had a quality evening with my wife maybe a few nights in that time. We haven't been to church in roughly a month. I had to give up on one big opportunity and my wife had to yield another. I used to see a close friend of mine at least once a week and now I haven't seen him in over a month. I feel on the run nearly all the time except for when I'm staying at the hospital.

I say all of this not to say people aren't pursuing us or checking in with us. I get constant texts or emails. It has nothing to do with our friends or family. Even seeing visitors throws me off now. Tonight we had a few special friends visit Esther and I in the hospital and it was so good to see them even for a short time. But, because of Esther's continued low ANC count (still only at 9.2 this morning), I was very hesitant to give them hugs or interact with our friends' kids and I just felt bad and awkward. It's very angering but I have no one to be angry at except God.

Today I even found myself questioning whether Esther actually had cancer. Really? She hasn't been sick! Just a bump on the head! Even this week she's felt pretty good. Maybe this whole "ANC count" thing is just a lie. We should go home and she'll be just fine...

I know this is all temporary but it doesn't feel like it. This is only round 1. Is Esther going to spend 2+ weeks in the hospital for every round (3 weeks) of chemo therapy? I talked to a coworker yesterday and he shared about his wife going through chemo awhile back. He said she tended to recover worse and worse after each successive round of chemo. What does that mean for Esther?

I feel frustrated and cut off. I am thankful for the tons of support but I feel shut off from genuine fellowship. My older kiddos are frustrated by their lack of time with me. I miss my wife. What's the point of all of this? I do not know and I may never know. This I know:

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)

Notice a few things here. Jesus is not saying here that just by asking you'll get whatever it is you're asking for or whatever you're seeking. The last part is key: "how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Wait, what? I asked for an egg or a fish! I didn't ask for the Holy Spirit! That flips these verses on their heads! What's the point of asking! I want the counts to go up! Enough people are praying, shouldn't you take that into consideration? We need to get Esther home! That's what we need right now!

And then it becomes clearer. What would my kids' lives look like if I gave them all exactly what they asked for every single time? It would be a disaster. They don't know better. They would destroy themselves. It would suck the life out of them and they would be miserable and then resentful of my wife and I.

So I need to admit something: I am not God. This world is not in my hands. That has become more clear than ever. God never sleeps or slumbers. I do. My wisdom is limited, his is not. My love is also limited and tainted by my own selfishness and sin. God's love is very clear and constant and proven by the Cross.

So I will choose to trust that this is exactly where he wants us to be. This situation is from him. I will breakdown and I will get mad at him, just like my kids do to me, but I will try to move on and trust my tender, patient, loving Father. I will be grateful to be able to update you all through this blog. I will be thankful for texting and social media. I don't like it but I will trust. And I will, in that perspective, slowly surrender to this temporary exile and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit that he offers.


  1. Thank you for sharing your heart, Anthony. Praying that God will give you, your wife and family the grace to endure.

  2. I love you, bro. Thanks for your honesty.

  3. I'm so sorry. I think a lot of people feel helpless for you all. I don't know what to say except we continue to pray. I do pray that this first round in the outlier and not the norm. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  4. God is with you and He loves you. I'm so sorry you all have to go through this. Especially sweet little Esther. I'm so glad you have such a close relationship with Your Lord and Savior. That is what will get you through this. God bless you all.

  5. Thanks for sharing and being open and vulnerable. We love you and will continue to pray.

  6. Bethany Stephens (aka Charity's sister)July 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    I don't even know you, but I wish I could come visit and share your family's burden. You and your wife have been such a blessing to me through this blog and I thank you for that. My friends and I are sending your family love and talking to our Father about your situation daily. Thank you for being so honest so that we know better what to ask Him for.

  7. I truly 'get' what your saying bro. We felt the same way at the beginning of Abby's chemo. I'd live to say it gets easier but that would probably sound a bit trite. It does get,well, different, maybe more 'normal' if that is any reassurance.
    Either was keep clinging to god. We'll be praying for the ANC to come up to 500 again. (I can talk blood counts with you any time if they helps! ;). )
    Praying tonight for peace in this surreal storm.