When I was pregnant with the girls, I loved going to the grocery store or Target, or just about anywhere in public during those first few weeks. I wouldn’t be showing yet, and there were no visible signs of the life growing in me yet. It felt as though I had my own little secret, and it was magical.
When the cashier would ask how I was doing (as a common courtesy to all customers), I’m sure I just beamed back, “I’m fabulous!” I’m sure they wondered why I was so excited about purchasing a can of green beans.
Today I went to the grocery store. In the short time I was there, probably 5 people asked me how I was doing. And to each person, I gave a half grin and said, “fine.”
And reality started sinking in.
I’m not showing any signs of being sick. And yet there is something toxic happening inside my body. I know it’s there. But from the outside, I look like a healthy (okay, not the prime example of health, but still) 34 year old mother of 2. It’s like I have this little secret.
And, to be quite honest, I know that when they ask “How are you?” they certainly DO NOT want to hear, “Well, actually, I have cancer and when I have surgery to remove it, I’m going to look like someone tried to decapitate me.”
Sorry . . . too much?
Thankfully, my friend Heather answered her phone on the second ring and just listened to me sob the words, “Oh my God. I have cancer.”
And it just made me so thankful that I have people in my life that I don’t have to keep at surface levels like I do the people in the grocery store line. I’m so grateful that I can be completely authentic and open – and brutally honest about how I feel at any moment.
I just needed to cry. I just needed to let it out. And then I was able to remember that I really am going to be okay. It’s going to be a difficult process, I know. I’m going to cry a lot more than I did this evening. I will be scared at times – angry at times – confused at times. But I am not alone. And I can always be grateful for that, no matter what emotion is hitting me.
I am looking at people a bit differently now, though. Those pat answers to “how are you” are rarely the truth most likely. I will pass hundreds of people, smile and say those three words. And I genuinely hope that they are as good as they say they are. But I pray that sometimes I will stop long enough to look them in the eye and find out how they really are.
On Sundays we “pass the peace” to each other – signifying that it is our prayer that all is right between the other person, God and others. I wonder how people would react in the checkout line if, instead of saying “how are you?” we would simply greet them with the peace of Christ.
And so tonight, as I sit on my patio on one of the prettiest summer nights all year, I pray that you experience the peace of Christ in your life – that all is well between you and God, you and me, and you and others.
Peace to you, my friends. Thank you for letting me be real.