Peeing In A Cup

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I’ve been asked a lot lately “What is God teaching you through this cancer journey?” And I have to be honest… Even though I’m experiencing something as life altering as cancer, I’m not necessarily constantly learning brand new concepts from Him. Actually more often than not, he’s reminding me of simple truths I learned a long time ago, but am now processing in a new light.

Truths that are ever so true, but look so different in this season. Truths about trusting in Him. Truths about not being anxious. Truths about not judging others, but instead believing the best & showing grace.

That last truth has been washing over me repeatedly since I was diagnosed, as if I were sitting on the ocean shore letting the waves crash over me again and again. My heart has been burdened with how quick I am to judge others; How fast I assume I know everything about a complete stranger’s situation. It sounds completely ridiculous as I type it out, but it’s oh so justified when I’m in a terrible mood & see yet another person in Walmart in their pjs. I know I’m not alone in this struggle (I’m looking at you Karen).

After I was diagnosed, there were so many situations that arose that were completely out of my control and 100% grounds for harsh judgment from strangers who knew absolutely nothing about my situation- events that were completely humbling and make me grateful for a sense of humor.

cancer mom

Like the time we were driving through Arizona on our cross country journey and I had to pee bad. There were no bathrooms for at least a hundred miles. (Side note: I’m all about protecting our virgin land, but people it’s 2019… Can we get some rest stops and an In & Out on Interstate 8??) Moving on…

I had to pee. I’m not talking about how strong the physical urge was. I’m talking from a medical standpoint, I needed to urinate as soon as I felt the urge so I could protect my kidneys from a deadly infection as we drove across the country. I was on the highest dose of steroid a doctor could prescribe and my doctor was a million states away. Naturally, I did what any desperate woman would do.

I pulled down my pants in the passenger’s seat of our SUV in front of my entire family while we drove at 80 MPH (just as an 18-wheeler passed us). I grabbed the cup we kept in my cup holder on that trip for this exact purpose and urinated into it. Desperate times call for desperate measures, people.

I’d like to assume the 18 wheeler has seen worse in his day. I’d like to assume he got a laugh. But, if we’re being honest, we know human nature and how easy it is to judge an unknown, strange looking situation. It would be easy to assume that I was a nasty, lazy redneck. It would be easy to assume I had no self respect. It would also be easy to assume I was trying to moon him. It would be unnatural for that driver to ever consider that I had cancer & for me, urinating or not could mean life or death.

Part of me wants to crawl under a rock and shrivel up there for sharing this story with you. But I’m not out rock hunting because I know we’ve all had experiences that made it too easy for someone to judge us. And we’ve all been the one to judge much too quickly. But, can we just stop and think about those last two sentences for a second? We all have judged and we all have been judged. We as humans share those universal struggles. And the worst part is, more than likely we were all doing the best we could in that season of life.

When I picked up that cup, mooned the driver next to us & humbly peed in a McDonald’s cup in front of my entire family, I was truly doing my best. It may have been hard to believe for the poor driver I totally violated (if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry) or for the proper woman who would never do such a thing, but it’s true.

Let’s move on to scenario number 2… the day I felt so terrible, but was so desperate to get some exercise & feel like a normal person that I went into Costco with world’s greasiest hair and no bra. For some women, going to the store without a bra wouldn’t be a big deal. But, for me, it’s a big deal (where are my fellow big busted girls at?). I don’t think I’ve gone out in public without a bra since second grade. The girls were having a hay day with all their freedom that day (I’m not talking about my kids) and frankly, it was just obnoxious.

But truthfully, I was doing the best I could that day. It would’ve been easy for strangers to assume I was looking for attention or a dirty hippy or a poor role model for my daughters or a prostitute (if I’m being blunt, sorry mom). But the truth is this: I have stage 4 cancer. The chemo is literally killing tissue that makes up my body. It’s the most exhausting thing I’ve ever experienced. I have a tube sticking out of my ribs that makes it nearly impossible and potentially dangerous for me to shower. Showers have to be perfectly timed so that when I’m done a nurse can drain the tube, clean the area with sterile tools and bandage it immediately & the stars just weren’t aligning that week for a shower.

I’m so grateful for these humbling experiences because they’ve reminded me of a simple truth I learned a long time ago: Assume the best in others. These humbling situations have driven this holy truth home for me. I’ve been at the mercy of others judgement so often during this journey I’m seeing this simple truth in a different light. God’s been reminding me not to assume someone’s situation or judge their appearance, no matter how much I think I’ve got those complete strangers I’ve never talked to figured out. He’s burdened me to pray that I would see people through his eyes & with his heart.

I don’t believe we need to ravenously seek the newest, most profound information under the sun in order to mature into the humans we want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lifelong learner and believe we can always learn something new. But, maybe the best maturing we’ll ever do will come from digesting the foundation truths we’ve heard over and over again and seeing them with new eyes as we enter each new season of life.

More often than not, we need the simple, powerful truths we’ve already heard before repeated over and over and over to us more than we need to seek new information and gain new knowledge.

Gang, can we all agree that next time life grants us the true pleasure of seeing a woman in Costco clearly wearing no bra or the mom in the front seat of the family SUV peeing in a cup we’ll stop judging immediately and make up a kinder story than the one we’re assuming? We can make it a fun game. In fact, this is a game we’ve played in our family for years and we’re going to be playing it a heck of a lot more now.

Here’s how we play: When the guy on the 405 cuts us off & nearly makes us crash into a ditch, we make up a story about how his wife may be in labor and needs to get to the hospital STAT. Or when someone you pass by at the grocery store turns her nose up at your smile, you assume the best in her & tell yourself she’s had a terrible day or she just lost her mom. Or when the girl on the playground doesn’t want to play with your daughter, you assume she’s just shy, not that your kid is weird or that that girl is a bonafide brat. You get the drift.

There are so many situations we experience that need a story edit. Because these situations are made up of humans. Humans who are more than likely trying their best. Humans who are all walking a hard road. And they need grace.

Here’s to rewriting grace-filled stories about strangers we encounter. Here’s to making up a kinder story about the dirty hippy and the redneck mom peeing in car. Here’s to a kinder thought pattern that makes the unknown road we’re all walking a little less scary.

Proverbs 18:2

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.