Practice makes perfect
My job sends me from store to store to set up displays. That’s the short version of what I do. My job also pays mileage and drive time, otherwise I wouldn’t go to all those far-flung places they send me. Several years ago, two stores ended up on my schedule one week–both in West Virginia. On the surface, without knowing that there is a fairly steep mountain to cross before being able to visit both stores (in two different places), the mileage to the first store from my house is 65 miles; and then on to the second one from the first is another 65 miles. Thinking that it would be a straight shot, with a 55 mph speed zone (and intending to go 60), I thought it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I didn’t know about or factor in those mountains, though. The first mountain to cross is pretty steep and curvy and slightly harrowing even now, but definitely then, having never scaled it before. Plus I was driving an SUV at the time too. Not sure which was worse, going up or coming down, but I was overly stressed out by the time I got to the first stop. The 65 miles took me nearly 90 minutes.
Done with that call, I was on to the second store. That ride is really scenic and beautiful, but that first trip I was just concerned with not breaking down in the middle of nowhere. My cell phone didn’t work there either, so that would have also been a problem. After having to drive up another steep mountain (there is a really sharp turn at one point and a speed limit sign posted for 10 miles an hour), I still had several miles to go before I arrived at my destination. I found a Subway Restaurant and stopped there, not only to fill my empty stomach, but to try and calm down from the anxiety of being so far from home and so out of my element.
After I finished at the second store and drove home (another 85 miles more), I was glad to be done with it. I had only been filling in for another rep, after all. Except a few weeks later, not only did those calls turn up on my schedule again; my district manager informed me that they were going to be mine permanently!
To say I wasn’t happy about that would be an understatement.
Bob pointed out that basically my company was paying me to drive and look at scenery all day and most people would love to get paid for doing that. I knew that God had blessed me with my job, which I really like doing and I also knew that not only does He go with me every where but that He doesn’t give me more than I can handle, (and really I had no choice) so begrudgingly I complied.
While all of this was transpiring, my husband had been complaining about and ended up having to go out on disability for—unexplained back pain which got progressively worse. The man laid on the couch in excruciatingly awful pain, he would take two Percocets, two Vicodens, and a bunch of Ibuprofen and it wouldn’t so much as make him loopy nor did it do anything to alleviate his suffering. I had a bad vibe about it; but still we prayed and we got everyone else to pray. The doctors we went to couldn’t pinpoint the problem and he just got worse and worse. I was doing the trip to WV every week by then with growing concern over his condition; until eventually, when he could no longer get up without assistance, I refused to make the trip altogether. There was no way I was going to be gone from the house that long and with no cell phone service either!
Finally at the end of January of 2011, we had a diagnosis—Multiple Myeloma—a very rare (1% they say) and potentially deadly form of blood cancer. Prognosis with a stem cell transplant was 3-5 years, without one was 1-3. It was pretty devastating to say the least.
The first run of chemo did it’s job (as the first run for this cancer always does—it’s a false sense of security) and Bob was able to not only get back on his feet, but go back to work. I was still making the trek to the two stores but by then it was actually getting easier and I was enjoying the scenery and even the steepness of the mountains was no longer scary. Spring turned into summer and I just had a feeling deep in my spirit that Bob was not going to beat this thing. I really think that God was preparing me for it, because at that point I had no reason to know this, his primary doctor was always upbeat and optimistic. I remember rounding the curves on one of those West Virginia mountains one morning, tears streaming down my face, asking God out loud—“How am I going to do this? How am I going to face all that is ahead?” And it came to me fairly quickly—-I would get stronger and learn to cope with everything, just like I had learned to get used to climbing those mountains. It had been so scary that first trip but with each subsequent drive, it had gotten easier. And just like He had been with me all those times, He would definitely be with me for this. He would take me over and through and around, and I would get to where I needed to be. I’m not saying it didn’t hurt like heck, because it surely did. But yeah, everything I had to do for my husband for the 18 months he lived after his diagnosis, got easier to cope with each time I had to do it.
He’s still doing things like that for me, nearly three years later. There are still “mountains” I must learn to climb. But when I get fearful, all I have to do is remember how far He’s brought me already; and how He is always so patient with me, knowing that in this as in most things, practice makes perfect.