Facing the Giants

A friend invited me to go to Boston the other day.  The reason for going would coincidentally bring us to the same area as Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  Mike had his surgery and testing done at Brigham and his primary oncologist’s office is at Dana Farber.  If you are not aware, these are giant places in the medical community  where people come from all over the world to seek help. It is both intimidating and humbling walking through those halls and seeing warrior-like patients and their families who are dealing with serious medical issues.  I was not sure I wanted to be back in that environment.   And I was not sure I had the strength to wrestle with the memories. After all, giants are big, they are strong and they invoke fear. Whether it is a place, a memory, a person, or a situation, we feel powerless in the shadow of a giant and we can get stuck in that place of fear, unable to move.

When Mike was first diagnosed, I made a promise to him and to myself that I would not back down from any challenge and would walk faithfully with him through the journey no matter where it led us. I was “all in”. And I reminded Mike of that as it concerned my future – that I would continue to face challenges, i.e. giants, of all sizes no matter what. So after thinking that over, I decided it was time to face one of the bigger giants on my list.  The decision was made to go to Boston.  My dear angel of a  friend walked with me first through Brigham. I had to focus on steadying my weak knees and calming my thumping heart.  Eventually we ended up in a small sitting area – the place where we met Mike’s brothers before his surgery back in August. And the memories came flooding in. And what a flood it was.  My friend and I talked…and we cried…and we were silent.  And in time, the flood of emotions receded.  I knew I had to give that physical space over in order to loose it’s grip on my emotions. So I silently thanked God for meeting us there; both in August and in the present. Then we headed to Dana Farber.  We went to the 9th floor waiting room where Mike and I spent many days awaiting news of test results and treatment plans.  I did not have to wait long before the anger, sadness, and frustation bubbled up out of me.  Again, we sat, we cried, and we talked.  And  in time, the feelings diminished and I was able to recognize the power that the physical place had over me. And I thanked God for meeting us there and for being big enough to slay yet another ‘giant’ for me:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

I know that the memories and feelings will return again and again.  But now I have a new memory associated with those spaces. One where I faced the giants and handed them over to the One who is bigger and stronger and capable of overcoming them on my behalf. And hopefully I can start to view those places for what they are – institutions where medicine is practiced and where good things can and do happen.

The good thing about “good grief” is that you can move through it.  When the sadness/anger/frustration/loneliness/”fill in the blank here” hits you, it feels like you will never get through it.  For me, I need to be willing to take the time to feel the emotions, to recognize they are there….to talk about them with someone who can help me to see beyond that moment.  And I also remind myself that I am never, ever alone.

“The Lord is with those whose hearts are breaking.” Psalm 34

So giants beware.  I am on my way.  With one very very big God.

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9 thoughts on “Facing the Giants

  1. Kim Stirtan says:

    Dear Patty….I am so glad you faced a giant with a Christian friend who helped you through this. And your choice of scripture will help the rest of us with the giants we are facing. It is refreshing to read your journey. Thank you for writing about your day as we delight in your move forward.
    Love,
    Kim

  2. Betty K says:

    Dear Patty,
    As you know in Boston there is the Freedom Trail. It sounds like you followed your own. Both trails speak of deep suffering but also the will to press on, to be free. Thankful that you had the courage to walk your freedom trail. I keep you in my prayers daily. Love, Betty K

  3. Peggy says:

    Go get em, Patty…………go get ’em….

  4. Melissa says:

    Thank you for this message. It comes at a time when there are several giants looming and I promised my husband that I would be okay and get through. I had no idea it would be so difficult, but I am determined not to let him, and myself, down. I will remind myself that there ar no giants bigger that God and that this giant is on my side. Again, thank you for sharing.

  5. Carole Glenn says:

    Patty,
    I stand in awe of your strength and faith. Most of all, I admire the patience you have with yourself as you walk this journey. Thank you for sharing your innermost feelings and thoughts; as much as it is helpful for you to write them, I very much appreciate reading and learning from you. Thank you for your courage, your pererverance and your faith.
    Carole

  6. Lisa says:

    Dear sister-in-law,
    I am always in awe of your strength and faith. My brother would be so proud of you and all you’ve done at such a difficult time. Thanks for giving me strength and hope. You and Michael have helped me so much to grow in my faith.

    Love you

    Lisa

  7. Susan Bever says:

    I have been struck lately about how much we need our mighty God to fight for us; I am so thankful He is fighting for you and loving you each step of the way. Thank you again for your bravery and honesty.

  8. Joanne McCoy says:

    Yeah Patti! God has answered prayer as you gave it to us from Ps. 119:37, 38. Continuing to pray alongside and fight the darkness with the light of God’s promises. Thankful for the gifts of friendships God has offered you that go the journey with you. Praying God’s presence and peace continue to fill the space in and around you. The light is visibly brighter, the darker the night.

    Love you- Joanne

  9. Laurie says:

    Wow….. nothing else to say

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