The Reality of Challenge

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Posted by Katie

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I can’t say this is one of my favorite photos, but it is one of the more meaningful ones I’ve taken in my six years of married life. This is my sweet husband, Phillip, holding our firstborn, Noah, when he was just two months old. This photo has its own unintentional and ironic caption. Phillip is wearing a shirt with one simple word printed across the front: “REALITY.”

While the subjects alone would be enough to make this photo special, it is the large red growth on Phillip’s forehead that makes it memorable. You see, that swelling and discoloring of his skin had been slowly developing for almost two years. No one had been able to tell us what it was…until shortly before this photo was taken.

It is a challenge to be new parents. It is a further challenge to discover, two months in, that your spouse has a rare form of Lymphoma. And still the idea of “challenge” seems inappropriate to fully describe the fear that we felt when we realized that the presence of that lesion on his forehead indicated that Phillip had actually had Lymphoma, unchecked, for almost two years. Had it spread? The doctors warned us they feared it almost certainly had. We were shocked, afraid, and just plain sad.

We learned that no matter how Phillip’s cancer is treated, it will come back. That is the nature of this Lymphoma. That is our reality. The good news is, his cancer is extremely slow-growing (and had not spread in the aforementioned two years before it was diagnosed). So far, Phillip has gone through treatment twice in the last three years and we’re hoping for a longer respite before the next treatment must take place.

I write about this experience because it alone has taught me two of the most important lessons I have ever learned about the realities of challenge:

One, the presence of a challenge does not determine with certainty any one outcome. Anything can happen. Like I wrote last week, “celebrate today”. Do not take on the burden of challenges that have yet to form. Focus on today. That is all you are equipped to do anyway. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. “ Matthew 6:34

Two, the presence of a challenge does not and cannot eliminate the presence of beauty and joy. Both can exist simultaneously. Just look at the picture! What a moment of beauty! I believe God places things of beauty and great joy in and around our lives to help us through the challenges we face. If you are having a hard time finding such a distraction to keep you grounded, remember that one particular Presence of beauty and joy is never far away. “…And lo, I am with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.” Matthew 28:20

What have you learned about the realities of challenge?

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