The Monsters I Cannot See

I was at my church’s monthly craft night, cleverly named Holy Scrap, last month where several of the ladies were working on different types of crafts.  I was scrapbooking.  Well, I say I was scrapbooking, mostly I was talking and laughing with my friends.  I was sharing a table with a friend who was making adorable Halloween pencil boxes as treats for school teachers.  We began to talk about how much we both love Halloween.  All the dress up, the candy, the decorations and the spooky fun- Halloween is a blast.  Then she made a comment that I found very interesting.  “I prefer the monsters that I can see,” she said.

I understood the sentiment immediately.  I like that about Halloween, too.  It offers the fun, safe kind of scary that a good horror movie can bring- the shivers of a ghost story.  I like the kind of monsters that just aren’t very scary when the lights are turned on.  Turn the lights on and examine them, and you find that they lack anything actually threatening.  Real monsters and real fear, not so much.

In the summer of 2009, my husband Rusty had some blood work done that came back with a suspicious result.  This led to more testing and doctors and investigating, including a screen for cancer.  He had that test done the day before we left for a vacation to Florida, and was told that he could call for the results in five days.  I will never, for the rest of my life, forget standing with my three small children at Disneyworld’s Main Street Parade that day watching my husband stand off to the side, Cinderella’s castle behind him, huddled with his cell phone getting news that could change everything.   A Disney villain, I think it was Cruella DeVille, got too close to my 2 year old, scaring her to tears.  I picked her up and comforted her, glad to be distracted from my own barely contained panic.  Rusty finally hung up the phone and joined us.  His scan was clear, he said.  No cancer.

Of course my relief and thankfulness to God were beyond measure.  But for months afterward, I turned over and over in my head my response to the idea that my husband might have cancer.  I had been nearly paralyzed with fear.  It made me examine my faith.  Did my fear mean that my faith was not sound?  The thought really bothered me.  After a lot of soul searching and prayer, I decided that no, my fear was not a symptom of lack of faith.  Throughout the time period when we were awaiting Rusty’s diagnosis, I was fearful, but not that God would fail to see us though this trial- of that I had no doubt at all.  But just because I knew God would see us through it didn’t mean I wanted to face it.  I was still afraid, crying out in fear.

And in my fear, I responded like my two year old did to her monster, Cruella Deville.  I cried and clung to the one who keeps me safe, the one who can help me to face my monsters.  I cried out to God.  My child trusted me to save her from the monsters, but Cruella still made her cry.  Monsters are scary.  When they come, it’s okay to cry out.  There is someone to rescue you from the monster.  As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me.  Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. Ps 55:16-17  God hears your voice when you cry out.  He’s bigger than the bogeyman.

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