Why Me Lord? Why Me?

Have you ever asked that question? If you have, you’re not alone.

I had a front row seat. Literally. Four rows from the stage. I could almost touch the conductor and wipe away the small beads of sweat that were forming on his neck. My seat meant I wasn’t going to miss a moment of this moving and momentous night. I love the theater, and I love musical theater. And I wasn’t the only one. The anticipation in the two thousand seater auditorium was verging on explosive.

And then my “tummy” churned. Immediately I knew, that in that moment, my evening had changed. Dread rose up from deep within me with its sidekicks anxiety and fear hot on its heels. I panicked as I calculated how long I had before I needed to bolt. I rehearsed the familiar equation: speed = distance / time, so time = distance x speed. I knew that I had to politely excuse myself passed the 8 beautifully dressed theater-goers that sat between me and freedom (mercifully aided by my English accent and it’s ability to induce forgiveness in the angriest of people). Once out of sight I could probably accelerate to an 8 minute mile pace along the corridor to the foyer, but only if I hitched my maxi dress up around my waist with the distinct possibility of exposing my none too sexy granny pants! But then I had to factor in some buttock clenching, which always slows my pace (there’s always a fine, well calculated trade off between speed and clenching). Add to that the minor complication that I wasn’t entirely sure where the bathrooms were actually located. Were they on this level or were they up a flight of stairs next to the bar?

I knew my time in the fourth row was rapidly coming to an end and the first couple of songs disappeared in a blur of anxious anatomical focus, Kegel exercises and mathematical probability calculations.

After the opening numbers, just as the glamorous hostess teetered onto the stage in her Jimmy Choo’s, I did it. I stood up under the glare of 2000 pairs of eyes, wide with disbelief.

After eight “Excuse me please, I’m so terribly sorry’s” and a 100m sprint Usein Bolt would be proud of, I made it. I burst into the Ladies Room with a surge of adrenalin and relief, my maxi dress already conveniently hiked up under my armpits saving me precious time. I sat there in a most undignified manner – maxi dress up, granny pants down, puffing from the unexpected exertion. As my mind started to empty of those speed:time equations, the familiar lyrics of my self-pity song took their place and started to cavort unchecked through my defenseless mind.

“God, not now, really! You’re joking! That was SO embarrassing! 2000 people just witnessed my escape and panic, Lord. 2000 people now know me as “that woman”…“The one who had the audacity to leave.” 2000 people are now mentally speculating why a tall lady in a rather lovely maxi dress (could it be Vera Wang?) excused herself passed eight, yes eight, startled guests to do a runner. And I bet 1999 of them are still guessing, while sweet daughter Sophie is probably sliding down in her chair crushed by the weight of compassion and embarrassment. WHY me God? Why ME?”

“Don’t I deserve just one night at the theater after this year of pain, nausea and indignity, Lord? Why not any of those other 2000 people? Maybe someone closer to an aisle or an emergency exit. Maybe someone dressed for a 100m sprint. But why ME?”

And so my complaining, moaning and self-pity continued, until I took a deep breath (risky given my location), hitched up my knickers, let down my maxi dress and went back into the auditorium with the sliver of dignity I still had boosted by an overdose of false bravado. I found a vacant seat next to the door, which over the course of the rest of the night allowed me to slip out, hitch up my maxi dress and break an 8 minute mile pace four more times. That night I vowed to switch to rapid release Imodium and to remember to add a stiletto penalty time of at least a minute to my speed:time calculations. That night I vowed not eat before going to the theater and to always ask for an aisle seat.

That night I made another vow too. I promised myself it would be the last time I asked God “Why me?” The last time I would cry out from self-pity and demand an answer to that self-focused and self-destructive question. Because the truth is, it’s just that – a cry of self-pity.

It wasn’t the first time I’d asked that question I can assure you. In the darkness of the night, alone and in pain, I cried out “Why me Lord. Why me?” In the hushed quiet of the chemo room I went over it time and again. “Why me Lord. Why me?” In the phone calls to my family, who’d only just let go of my sister’s hand as she smiled her last smile, I angrily spat out “Why me Lord. Why me?”

Each time God’s answer was the same.

“I love you. I’ve got you. I am your rock. With me there is hope, and together we’ve got this.”

At first His answer pissed me off. What sort of answer was it anyway? Sure, it was true but it didn’t really answer the question did it? And I’ve always been told to read the exam paper twice and be sure to answer the question. And this didn’t answer my question. I wanted an answer that gave me details, that explained it all, that I could say “Ahhh, now I understand. I don’t really like it but I guess you have a point God. That makes sense.” I wanted Him to answer in His best Morgan Freeman voice so I would know it was really Him. But He didn’t. He just kept saying the same thing.

“I love you. I’ve got you. I am your rock. With me there is hope, and together we’ve got this.”

That night, perched on the porcelain at the theater, I promised God I would listen. I promised God I would believe Him. I promised Him I would take my eyes off myself and put them on Him.

“I love you. I’ve got you. I am your rock. With me there is hope, and together we’ve got this.”

Like an incalcitrant teenager I’ve broken my promise a hundred times (and that’s just since this morning), but thankfully God’s mercy is fresh each day (and hopefully each minute). Each time I find myself sliding precariously into self-pity I try my best to lift my eyes and remember His promise.

“I love you. I’ve got you. I am your rock. With me there is hope, and together we’ve got this.”

Is it just me or do you ever ask that question? If you’re asking it today then you’re probably going through a tough time, and I hate that for you. It sucks. It really does. Let me encourage you to let God’s answer sink into your core. Because that’s where He wants to work in us, right at the center. Repeat them. Learn them. Put them on the fridge, make them into a ring tone. Do whatever it takes to soak in their truth so they can help you take your eyes off yourself, and the yuck you’re standing in, and lift your eyes to the One who can bring you through it all.

Because whether I’m dashing passed you at an eight minute mile pace in the direction of the bathroom, walking with you through your “cancer” or laughing with you in your joys, I want to remind us both that whether our maxi dress is hiked up or down, God’s answer doesn’t change…

“I love you. I’ve got you. I am your rock. With me there is hope, and together we’ve got this.” …God.