Meant to Be

book

At the back of my church was an old bookshop, piled high with old tapes and video’s, books that were never sold and random Christian gifts, all covered by an even greater pile of youth work supplies. One evening during youth group, we decided to finally sort the cupboard. We pulled out all the boxes, flicking through the books that no-one had thought worth buying. Crammed into a box, I found a book, Last Dance by Melody Carlson. It reminded me of a book I had read years ago by the same author, about a girl whose mother faces terminal cancer; I had kept hold of it in case any of the young people should face that situation.

I didn’t take me long to find that book, and within no time I had read the book cover to cover. I cried with Kim, the main character, as she faced situations similar to my own, and was glad to know that how I felt was okay and normal. I read about her difficulties in balancing caring for her mum, and her friends, financial worries and role reversal. I knew she wasn’t real, just a fictional character, but I related to her so much. It encouraged me to see Kim facing the same questions I faced, having many of the same arguments with God. Her mum even had a long-lost sister that Kim had no idea existed, who she tracked down on behalf of her mum, over the internet!

If you are going through a tough time with a loved one suffering from cancer, or you know someone who is, I would recommend Meant to Be by Melody Carlson, along with it’s sequels. It comforted me and encouraged me to talk to others about how I felt, and to God.

The Bracelet

The Voice

One afternoon, I was tidying up when I found a bag in the corner of the landing. My Mum often complained about that bag being left there, but as we each assumed it belonged to someone else, no-one had touched it. Eventually it became buried beneath baskets and boxes and was forgotten about, until this afternoon. I picked it up, and carried it to my bedroom, curious as to what was inside. I’d just assumed it was old computer wires, nothing interesting really, but when I opened it, I found a time capsule. It was a bag of random things I’d owned and lost at 14 years old. There was make-up and broken phones, souvenirs from school trips, a black bandanna with pink skulls, great big neon pink hoop earrings (they were totally in fashion!), and at the bottom of the bag, a sparkly green and yellow bracelet. I held the bracelet lightly in my hand, thinking back to the last time I had been reunited with it.

When I was 10, I lived in the old house, where my bedroom was much bigger and had these long, white shelves going along the width of one wall. There were three of them, but I couldn’t reach the top one, it was too high for me. I had come up with different creative ways of getting things on or off of these shelves, but one day I decided to climb up. I had lost my beautiful sparkly green and yellow bracelet several days before, and I could not find it anywhere. Eventually I had given up searching, but not before scouring my room from top to bottom. I don’t know what I was doing climbing up those shelves, but as I stood on the lowest shelf I heard a voice telling me to get down and turn around. I was deeply confused, the voice was clear, but I wasn’t sure it was audible. It wasn’t angry either, but it was firm. I climbed down and turned around; at my feet was my green and yellow bracelet. I picked it up, and wandered out of my room, looking for the source of the voice. There was no-one around, no-one who could have spoken. I was alone. I had thought that maybe it was a guardian angel, or a friendly ghost, but as I grew older and more accustomed to hearing God’s voice, I recognised it as God.

I sat on my bed, holding the bracelet that I had once again found, and wondering if it had all been real. Had God really spoken to me at 10 years old? Or did I have some sort of psychological disorder?

I decided that if God was real, then I was going to find him.

Be still my soul

Guitar

My friend Kim is an inspiration; her Dad died of cancer several years ago. I met her after her Dad had died, before my mum received her first diagnosis, and I was amazed by her. She spoke about her Dad openly. She misses him and is so proud of him, but the pain hasn’t consumed her. Life has carried on, and with God’s help, so has she.

I didn’t tell her about my mum at first; I didn’t feel like my mum’s breast cancer diagnosis was anything compared to her Dad’s death. It was a couple of months before she found out, and then I was probably just as surprised by her reaction as she was to my mum’s diagnosis; she thought it was a big deal. After that, I was honest with her in relation to my Mum. I was worried at first, in case it reminded her of her Dad and it made her sad, but she reassured me that the reason she didn’t talk to me about her Dad was because he died, and she didn’t want me to think that my Mum would too.

When I moved away from the city, I continued to text and call her for advice. The weekend we discovered that the cancer had spread to her brain, I rang Kim. I was so scared. I had no idea how I felt, or what was going to happen to our family. Everything seemed to be moving so quickly, and the doctors were saying things that I didn’t want to hear. We talked, but her experience of cancer was totally different to mine, her Dad’s death no way like my Mum’s, but she did encourage me to pray. She listened to my doubts and questions, and assured me that God was real, he did love both me and my mum, and she would continue to pray for us. She told me a little of her experience, and encouraged me to make a mix-tape that I could listen to when it was tough. She told me the story behind the song, “Trusting in You,” by Ian Yates, and how that was written about a woman who lost her father to cancer.

The next day was a tough one. I found myself sitting staring at the railway tracks, when the song ‘Trusting in you’ came into my head. It was enough. I plugged in my head phones, and walked back to the hospital, crying and praying to God. I was desperate for this not be real, for my mum not to be dying. I felt powerless, and frightened, and so guilty. I was ashamed of myself, my behaviour, my inability to control my emotions. I told God everything, I begged him to help me.

A few days later, another song came into my head. I picked up my guitar and played around until I got the chords, and I sang it over and over again. It was basic, only a few lines; but it was a start. I sang it over and over; my prayer. A couple of weeks later, I added to it, writing the verses, until I had a full song; ‘Be still my soul.’ I really struggled to pray; what could I say to God when I still struggled with him so much?

‘Be still my soul’ really helped me to start talking to God again, pre-written words that expressed how I felt. As time carried on, I wrote more songs, each expressing how I felt and what I wanted to say to God.