When Life's Not Insta-Perfect

By Monday, April 27, 2015

I like Instagram as much as the next 20-something female. It’s fun to see what my friends have been up to and I probably take way too long to pick a filter. But all too easily, discontent can creep in and I find myself wondering why I can’t have a perfect life like this or that person who has such beautiful pictures all the time. I forget that Instagram often probably isn’t representative of normal life. We don’t want to broadcast our more difficult days. But I’m learning to own the harder days as well as the easy ones – to acknowledge them and do them well.

Almost three months ago, I received some of the most devastating news that’s ever come in all of my 23-and-a-half years. It was a text message from one of my best friends, Charlie Anne:

“I just found out that I have Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Please pray for my family.”

My stomach dropped and my cheeks scorched. A hard knot came up in my throat as the room started to spin, and I covered my face to hold back a cry. God, no. Please no. Not Charlie. Isn’t it enough that her dad already has sarcoma? Two cancer patients in one family? And right when she’s about to finish her Master’s degree? God, why? She's only 23. Why her? Right when we were hoping to live together and travel together? Why, why, why?

That made up my inner dialogue for several days following that text message. The word "why" played over and over in my mind. This is the closest I’ve ever been to deep, painful difficulty. But while I never would have chosen it, in the weeks following Charlie Anne’s diagnosis, the Lord has met me and comforted. While I would give almost anything for her to be made well tomorrow, this journey has strengthened our friendship and caused me to never take time with her for granted. It’s helped me to not take a lot of things for granted, in fact. I’ve been reminded how quickly things can change and to make the most of today. I've become more thoroughly educated on chemotherapy and cancer cell behavior than I ever would have wanted to, but it’s a privilege to walk this battle with her, and I prize the moments of closeness it's given us. It’s possible to do the hard days well, I’ve found. Her family is a living testimony to that. Their faith, courage, and love in the midst of unimaginable pain are incredible to see, and when I’m with Charlie, there’s a closeness that’s grown out of the hurt. She helps me find the bright spots and I do my best to help her find them too. No, life is not Instagram-perfect – far from it – but I am learning to give thanks for small things, to love deeply, and to pray confidently and persistently. I’m learning that I don’t and won’t understand why, but that’s okay. I may not understand how things work, but I know the One who’s working, and there’s comfort in that.

May 2014, shortly after our year as roommates
About a week after the diagnosis came
March of this year, after chemo treatments had begun
Hospital visit during chemo. She's a champ.
Getting pictures like this one on the left of her showing off a new head scarf are always a bright spot. And it was a joy to donate my hair in her honor last week. 
I love you, Charlie Anne. As our favorite, Ben Rector, says, it’s the walking in between, even, or especially, when life is not Insta-perfect.

If you’d like to know more about Charlie Anne and her family’s journey, please visit their CaringBridge site here. I also invite you to help their family with medical expenses here.

You Might Also Like

3 comments

  1. Hello Elizabeth. So good to know you through your profile on the blogger and the blog post. I have alrady written my message on the contact form but I just want to comment on your post which is so encouraging and be assured of my prayers for you and your friends Keep the good work in encouraging others through your blog post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Elizabeth. So good to know you through your profile on the blogger and the blog post. I have alrady written my message on the contact form but I just want to comment on your post which is so encouraging and be assured of my prayers for you and your friends Keep the good work in encouraging others through your blog post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

      Delete