You would have to be in a cave or colorblind to not know this is breast cancer awareness month. Some may find the pink ribbons everywhere a bit much. I am one who is grateful for every ribbon I see. My bride is now a two year survivor and the dollars poured into research along with faith, hope and prayers all contributed to her current status. I know many other woman (and their friends and loved ones) are on this tough journey right now. For the rest of October I am going to re-post some of the articles Joni and I wrote during that trial. Joni and I hope her story will be an encouragement to those going through the storm. Blessings and grace, Dave
Dictionary.com defines masquerade as one who goes about as if in disguise; to have or put on a deceptive appearance. It is funny that Joni and I never realized we were putting on a bit of a masquerade as we adjusted to her breast cancer. We had no idea that we were donning masks at times. We had no intention of being deceptive. But we have both come to realize that we were sometimes putting on masks as we addressed the trial ahead.
I was trying to be John Wayne and Joni was running around disquised as Wonder Woman. I dig John Wayne. But I am not John Wayne, Pilgrim. It is funny how you think that you have to always be strong and in control as a man. I first was “unmasked” by a friend at work.
“How are you doing?“, my friend Mike asked.
“Fine,“ I replied automatically. (Didn’t he know that John Wayne once said in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence that “Out here a man settles his own problems.” Partner, I don’t need your help!)
“And what is behind the mask?“, he inquired.
“Really, we are doing well,“ I protested. But his question haunted me and later I reflected on his question. Because I knew behind the mask I was not John Wayne. I was more like Don Knotts. Trembling while blustering that I was in control. Behind the mask I related to the lyrics of my oft quoted musical heroes Casting Crowns in their song Voice of Truth.
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”
My trust in God never wavered but I was too stubborn to admit that I needed the encouragement of the body of Christ in this journey. I need the strength of my brothers and sisters in the faith. I was not and am not John Wayne. When I hid behind the mask I was doomed to bottom out for awhile. And I did.
My wife’s masquerade was different. Joni is much closer to Wonder Woman than I would ever be to John Wayne. But she is still not Wonder Woman. Joni had to remove the mask of independence and self-sufficiency. Joni is a giver and most givers have a hard time receiving. Her responses from behind the mask went something like this.
“What can I do for you, Joni.“
“Nothing. Just pray. We are fine.“
“Can I bring dinner?“
“No, we are fine.“
“Is there anything I can do?“
“Thanks. We are doing okay.“
But chemotherapy slows down even Wonder Woman and Joni has had to learn the lesson that givers sometimes have to receive in the body of Christ. We realized this weekend that we really are doing well as long as we simply play ourselves. God is moving in our lives, encouraging, loving, and teaching us in this valley. When we step out of our comfort zone we are learning to listen to His voice only. Here is the chorus to the song Voice of Truth.
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.
And that is our strategy in a nutshell…unmasked. We have chosen to listen to the voice of truth. There is one John Wayne quote that really resonates with me. The Duke once observed that “Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.” Amen, John. That is true grit and true faith. King David understood the concept of being scared and saddling up anyway.
But when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
O God, I praise your word.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? Psalm 56
Our trust in a God who is worthy gives us the courage to saddle up anyway. We have decided to put away the masks. And that feels really good. Give it a try sometime.