- Avery Garn
Pears and Pandemics
April 29, 2020 “Writing is the way I process the world. When I was given the opportunity to write this book, whatever God is up there said, You got your dream. I said, Actually, I was hoping for a lighter topic. And God was like, Ha ha! You thought you got to choose.” -Chanel Miller
I believe there is a God--one God--“up there”. And I don’t believe He finds our tragedies funny. Our suffering breaks His heart. But in Know My Name, Chanel Miller captures our misguided sense of control over our lives, a reality that we all have had to come to terms with over the past several weeks. Almost six years ago, my own illusion of control over my life was shattered when my dad committed suicide one September afternoon. God has brought immeasurable healing to me and my family since then. I have walked through fire and not been burned (Isaiah 43:2). And for the past few years, I have opted to believe that the worst had happened to me. My storm had passed, and the rest of my life would be pretty smooth sailing. But the truth is, we are all just "stumbling around in the debris of the dreams we thought were entitled to and the plans we didn't realize we had made" (Kate Bowler).
COVID-19 gave each of us the gift of slowness, the word I ironically chose as my “word for 2020” back in January. Ha ha, I thought I got to choose. With the compulsory slowness of COVID came a realization: I had time to start listening to my body. And not only did I have time to start listening, I had time to do something--I scheduled appointments with specialists, and I finally had to acknowledge that after weeks of facial numbness, hearing loss, vision problems, vertigo, headaches, and many broken plates and spilled drinks (sorry friends), it was time to seek some answers. Throughout all of these symptoms, I was never too concerned for my health. I’m 24, I drive slow, I drink approximately three glasses of wine a year. I stayed far away from WebMD, and my friends and I quipped about my "tumor" for weeks. I hoped if I kept making my symptoms a joke, then they couldn't be a reality. I wanted to believe that God distributed pain relatively equitably among the world, and I had already been awarded my share. I must have a Get Out of Pain Free card. But that’s just it: God is not measuring our portion of pain. God is not causing us to suffer, but He sits with us while we do. Practicing slowness with Captain Marvel the Cat (aka Carol Danvers) So when I got a call at the end of April that an MRI indeed found a large, non cancerous, tumor in my head that would require brain surgery, I had to laugh a little. I had created a security blanket for myself with my human reasoning that “lightning doesn’t strike twice”. But human reasoning will never give us God’s perspective. What I do know is that God’s love for me has never and will never change. To my beloved seventh graders: I want you to know that I have decided I am Katniss Everdeen. For years, I have felt connected to Katniss. She is the oldest of two sisters, and she takes care of her family after her dad's sudden death. She is a warrior determined to win. And I am determined to win this, because I know that the odds God is always in our favor. My diagnosis is not a death sentence. Vestibular Schwannoma is a treatable, non cancerous tumor. But that doesn’t make me any more eager to undergo brain surgery; I'm pretty scared. But as I walk into this unknown, I know that God is already there. "There was another in the fire" six years ago, and "there is another in the fire now" (Hillsong United). And if you’re reading this, I would love for you to be there, too, in prayer. Already, I have never felt so loved or so covered in prayer. In Kate Bowler's "Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I've Loved", she shares that after her cancer diagnosis, she experienced "love, so much love, love I find hard to explain". And that is how I feel. And my prayer is that we may each experience God's love for us through this. Because He is ALWAYS working; sometimes we just forget to look. My #3 Man Andy (Jesus being #1, Clint #2) "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." 2 Corinthians 4: 8-12