I don’t love the month of June. It always brings the chaotic last two weeks of school, which seems fun but really means standardized tests, World War III because of a dwindling supply of the good lunch box treats, and someone telling me at 4:46 pm that by 6 we have to be dressed and at a very important ceremony I’ve never heard of.
June also is a month of anniversaries, and while most of them are good the ones that aren’t good are so overwhelmingly not good that my body and mind still have a physical reaction every time I turn the calendar and see June 1. I struggle to sleep, I struggle to concentrate, and my heart races or I break out in a sweat at the slightest disruption in schedule or routine. Eleven years ago in June, the world just exploded when one doctor appointment after another revealed that Audrey would be born with cancer, then needed surgery, and then and then and then. And even though I know that the story has a happy ending, June is filled with trepidation for me. A minefield I have to carefully navigate each year.
This morning I got dressed up for church even though I really wanted to wear black joggers and my Nikes. I was hoping the perpetual pit in my stomach might wane if I could feel “together” and be in a place of worship. I have been reminding myself that it’s National Cancer Survivors Day and I should be celebrating the miracle of Audrey, but I didn’t remember that it’s Pentecost until I arrived at church.
On Pentecost we remember the day the disciples received the Holy Spirit. It’s a day for tongues of fire and baptisms and new experiences. In children’s church today, the kids all blew on their hands to experience and be able to easily remember that you while can’t see the spirit you can know it’s there because you feel it or felt it. And it struck me that my experience with a voice and a feeling over a decade ago is what I really need to remember as I go through this month.
When Audrey was just three months old, some of her test results came back with concerning indicators. Her oncologist asked that she come in the next day for full scans and bone marrow testing, and the pit in my stomach seemed bigger than it had ever been. That night, after she’d received her injection in preparation for the next day’s scans, I was sitting in my favorite chair in the family room and I heard a quiet male voice say you can trust me. I looked up expecting to see my Dad – I thought maybe he was still at our house and had not left to go home. But no one was there. I wondered for a minute about what had just happened and if I really was losing it, but I also realized in the moment that I was suddenly and unexplainably completely calm and at peace.
I remember the voice vividly in really hard moments, when I need it most I guess. But day to day as life happens, with all sorts of little frustrating moments or anxieties, I don’t think about it as much. I guess the truth is I rely on myself for as long as I can possibly stand it and then I really only rely on God when I fail miserably. Not good.
At the time, I told just a couple of people – in part because I didn’t want to seem crazy (she’s hearing voices now!), in part because not everyone around me believed in the God who I thought might be sending me a message, and in part – mostly – because I just couldn’t believe that someone as awful as me was worthy of a message. When the chips are really down, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what’s happening is your punishment or that God only loves and communicates with perfect people.
This June is a bit of an additional challenge because a couple weeks ago in my frustration with myself for still feeling unease about June, I decided that the way to cure that was to overexpose myself to scary things all month. For the first time in over a decade, I threw superstitious caution to the wind and scheduled doctor appointments and even my regular mammogram for this month. My Dad would call that ignorance gone to seed, but I’m calling it a long overdue and necessary trial by fire. (I’m only calling it that because I still don’t like it when my Dad is right and I am wrong.)
Perhaps if I rely on Him more, in all things whether big or small, I wouldn’t spend June in such a state of unease each year. Perhaps if I firmly resolve to focus on the outcome instead of the obstacle, I wouldn’t spend June in such a state of unease each year. Perhaps if I stop hiding pieces of me and just embrace that I am a mix of good and bad and all sorts of contradictions but God loves me anyway, I wouldn’t suffer in silence and spend June in such a state of unease each year.
I think one of the lessons of Pentecost is that the church is filled with believers that are human, people who’ve lied or doubted or panicked. People with imperfections. None of us is a surprise to God – He knows exactly who we are. It’s we that don’t fully understand who He is and how He works. As lights, as the church, perhaps we are at our best and most effective when we are honest with God and others about all the things that make us human and about all the experiences we have that are just unbelievable.
One thought on “Trust in June”
Instead of thinking about June (then), and all the negative, think about June (now) and how you all beat June (then) to dust! You went in to June (then) with trepidation but have victory in June (now)!
Thank you for sharing!