Editor’s Note: Vijay Anand is the father Jennifer Anand – author of Jen’s Corner and cancer survivor. Vijay reflects on being a parent and the feelings that come with watching your own daughter fighting for her life.
If you grew up in a generation that used Windows XP, 7, or sadly, Vista, you would have come across the “Last Known Good” configuration.
“Last Known Good Configuration, or LKGC for short, is a way in which you can start Windows 7 if you’re having trouble starting it normally. LKGC loads the drivers and registry data that worked the last time you successfully started and then shut down Windows 7.”
This phrase came ringing in my ear at 5 AM this morning, as my third daughter Ruth came up earlier than that, saying she is in terrible back pain because of a cyst, that was going to be operated on later in the morning. The pain medication she took at 3 AM had not kicked in, or the pain was terrible. Either way, you are helpless, and the only hope is to call the doctor’s office, and wait for someone to call and tell you what to do – go to the ER, go early for surgery…
I don’t know about you, but, as a parent, I have been in the “state of helplessness” the last 25 years of being a dad. And yet, we are supposed to know everything, to take care of everything, to be the super hero dad! It may be baffling when one of your adult children calls you and say that they were in a car accident before they called 911 or the police! “I am in Akron (Ohio), and cannot be there to help right now, my dear.”
I am not minimizing that they called me first – but am merely pointing out the TRUST they place in you, the parent – to care for them and make the issue go away.
I have replayed this many times in my head, especially after my first daughter’s cancer journey when she was 17. We are thankful she is alive and in remission more than five years now, but any time we deal with the side effects – medically or otherwise – I mentally play back that day when she was in pain, and we took her to the doctor’s office and heard the dreadful diagnosis. How many times I have wished that we can go back to “last known good” – pre-cancer!
And yet, we are in this fallen, sinful world, and with Paul the apostle, I can say unashamedly, me – the chief of all (1 Tim 1:15). We have to deal with pain and suffering, and it is going to be a part of life for all – Christian and non-Christian alike. The Bible does not promise immediate deliverance from troubles when you become a Christian (I hope that was not your understanding). In fact, persecution (in one form or the other) is part of the package, here on earth.
While we are here on earth, when we are in the midst of these trials, I would like to write out what benefits or lessons that I can learn from this life experience, other than hoping for “last known good” reset.
I have learnt to empathize with others who are going through similar challenges. This has allowed me to pray for them, to please with God for them, and to offer help and comfort as much as I can. There have been more than a dozen times that we have either been contacted or reached out to others in similar circumstances, praying often, listening mostly, and lending a hand.
That feeling of helplessness drives me to my knees, humbles me, and allows me to go to God in prayer for help. Even if I were a physician, I cannot remove that cancer diagnosis, the pain of chemo and radiation, the pain of a cyst, the falling of the hair, the seemingly never ending throw-up, that car wreck, that lost year, that lost race, that lost opportunity, that lost dream. I cannot turn back time, I cannot make that “boo-boo” go away by my kiss, as I used to, when they were little. I am helpless. I am vulnerable, I am teachable.
I am not an island. The spirit of American individualism (that I love and cherish) is called into question. Why cant I be like Alamanzo and go build a little house on the prairie with my wife and children and be self-sufficient? God has placed me in a community – of believers and unbelievers – all made in the image of God. I need them as much as they need me. I ask for help from friends and neighbors to watch the dog, to pick up mail, to take out the garbage, to drive the kids for practice, the things that I did not need before. It goes to my pride being brought down to level, and makes me humble enough to ask for help. For prayers for me and my family and my children – the ones that we care about most in this world.
This was not worked in – and yes, you can be thankfulness in any circumstance. I was humming this tune last night – “Count your many blessings – name them one by one”. Without that perspective, I can spin into the “woe is me” doom and gloom scenario of self-pity very easily. There are always things you can consciously be thankful for – in any circumstance. With Job, we can say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21. I was thankful that we were able to see the doctor yesterday to diagnose, who were able to find the surgeon to squeeze in a slot for Ruth, to know that I have flexibility at work to take time off for this, to know that the other kids will be OK at home. And to remember, it could have been worse.
5. Good, good father
Finally, that I have God the father, who is good, who is always there for me, regardless of my age or circumstance or state of sin, who is ever forgiving, ever loving, ever merciful. I could have done the worst of sins, and yet, I can go to him, for help. And that I need to model this behavior for my children, to show them the heavenly father, and point them to him. I cannot help many times, or most times, but God the father can help and will help and is waiting to help. He is the good, good, father.