ok, round three. :) here's another story i wrote last between 1-2am! :) i hope yall like it!
Jenna squinted her eyes and tilted her head, confused and stunned.
“I have what?” she asked quietly.
“Cancer, Jenna. You have cancer,” the doctor answered slowly. “It’s a very common type. Treatment is very easy to go through, and we’re sure you’ll come out of this 100%. Now, there will be hard times…”
Hard times? He didn’t know hard times. This, this was hard, but not as hard as it could get. Not as hard as losing your parents in a car crash at seven years old. Not as hard as having no reputable family to speak of and having to live in foster homes till your 18 years old. Not as hard as being told, “I love you,” and then left the next morning. This was hard. But not as hard as it could get.
“Jenna, are you listening to me?” Dr. Stevens’ soft voice brought her back to reality. Sighing, she turned towards the window in the small office and shut her eyes. She tried to drown out the sounds floating around her: babies crying, nurses calling in patients and asking for insurance cards, people sneezing, and one woman talking on her cell phone. She tried to block all of this out, but she couldn’t.
“Yes, I’m listening. When can we start treatment?”
“As soon as you’re ready. We’ll need to get your insurance squared-away on this first, but I don’t think that will be a problem,” Dr. Stevens said, looking worriedly at her. “Jenna, are you going to be OK? You look a little dazed.”
Jenna gave him a reassuring smile, even if it was fake, and even though he knew it. “Yes, I’ll be fine. Thank you, Dr. Stevens. I really appreciate the care you’ve shown to me.”
“Usually, Jenna, I don’t feel for others like I do for your case. I have to say, God has really laid you on mine and my wife’s hearts. We don’t know where you’ve come from, or what you’ve had to go through, but we know that you could have a future; with or without cancer. Are you a Christian, Jenna?” he asked respectfully, but not timidly.
Jenna chuckled. “Most days I like to think I am. But, if I’m being honest, I’d say God probably doesn’t want anything to do with me. I’ve done so many bad things. I’ve run from Him so many times when I should have run to Him. I’ve been so melancholy my whole life, and all the Christians I’ve ever met have all been ridiculously happy.” She sighed and continued, barely getting the words out. “I can’t help but think I’m missing something.” With that, she left the room, tears stinging her eyes. She didn’t want to cry in front on Dr. Stevens.
No, she knew wasn’t a Christian. God probably didn’t love her. She knew this not because of all the bad things she had gone through, but because of all the times she couldn’t find Him. Because of all the times she needed Him and He wasn’t there!
Jenna got into her car and flipped on the radio. She could drown out anything with a little country music. Most of it was depressing, like people said, and she was in the perfect mood for it. Listening to a sad ‘love-gone-wrong’ song by a singer she couldn’t place, Jenna heard her phone vibrate. She was in no mood to talk to someone, so she just let it vibrate. It wasn’t until after she had gotten home and walked her dog that she remembered she had a missed call. Checking the caller-I.D., Jenna saw it was from Dr. Stevens. She debated internally whether or not to check the message he left. She didn’t want to hear anything else about treatment or about God. It’s not that she hated God or was bitter towards Him, and she certainly wasn’t that towards the treatment. She just had given up on hope; in God that is, not the treatment. Eventually she decided to check the message. Sitting down on the couch with a cup of tea in her right hand and a pillow in her lap, she dialed her voicemail and clicked ‘1’ to listen to his message:
“Hi, Jenna. Listen, I just want you to know that it was perfectly OK for you to walk out of the office like you did. Most people react way worse than that.” He paused. “My wife, Kate, thought I should call to make sure you got home safely, so when you get this, please call my cell or the office. They can transfer you to my home phone .” Another long pause. “Kate also wanted-”
“Beep. End of message. You have one new message.”
“Sorry, I guess I took too long.” He chuckled. “I was saying that Kate and I want you to come over for dinner tonight. We don’t have to talk about your diagnosis if you don’t want to. Or God. We just want to spend some time with you. Anyway, call and let us know. Thanks, bye.”
She held the phone to her ear for a full minute after the message was over. Just then her stomach growled. She hung up the phone and walked to the refrigerator. Opening it, she saw she had milk, sour cream, and bread. Basically, nothing. She tilted her head back and sighed. Before she let herself think about it twice, she dialed Dr. Stevens’ cell phone number and politely accepted their invitation for dinner. Hanging up she thought, “What did I just do?”
Jenna was dressed in her blue knit sweater that hung to her mid-thighs. She had light-colored jeans on with brown boots. The Stevens’ house was only medium-ed, which was surprising considering his profession. They had older-looking furniture and large rugs that covered the hard-wood floors. The house felt homey and warm. It reminded her of one of her foster homes when she was a child. They ate dinner just a little before eight with the Stevens’ two children- Margaret, two years older than she, and Kyle, who had just turned fourteen. After the meal of red-beans with rice, buttered rolls, and spicy green beans, Margaret suggested that she and her go sit on the front porch while they drink their coffee. Jenna agreed, actually pleased with the idea. She liked Margaret. She seemed genuine and sweet. She was one of those extremely joyful Christians she couldn’t seem to measure up to.
“I hope you don’t mind me broaching the subject of your diagnosis, but I have to tell you that I’ve been praying for you ever since you came in to see my dad. That night, after you saw him, he came home with such a heavy heart. He asked us all to pray for you. For your sickness, but also-” Margaret stopped short, pressing her lips together. She shook her head and smiled. “Sorry. I wasn’t going to preach to you tonight. It’s sort-of a habit, to talk about God.”
“No biggie. It doesn’t offend me,” Jenna smiled back. “What exactly did your dad want your family to pray for, other than my cancer?”
“Well, he didn’t know if you were a Christian or not and he sensed that you were really upset about something, or maybe just upset with life in general. He asked us to pray that God would give you peace and show you love.” She took a sip of her coffee.
“It’s not that I’m an atheist or anything like that; I actually like the concept of a God who loves and forgives people, and I used to believe in Him. But I can never measure up to the way Christians are supposed to live-" “And how are Christians supposed to live?” Margaret interrupted.
“Good lives. You know, they’re happy all the time, and they don’t get upset when bad things happen to them. They can quote a million Bible verses and love people no matter the bad things they’ve done. They-”
“Well that’s your problem, Jenna!” Margaret interrupted again. “I don’t know who told you that that’s what a Christian is supposed to look like, but they are dead wrong. If all that were true I’d never measure up to those standards either.”
Jenna smirked and looked at her disbelievingly. “Oh, come on. I know you’re probably not perfect, but what’s the worst you could have done? Cheat on a high-school test? Called a boy past mid-night? If you only knew the things I’ve done. The things I’ve been through-”
“No, Jenna,” Margaret interrupted. “If you only knew the things I’ve been through. One of the main reasons why my parents care about you so much is because you remind them of me when they first met me. My biological parents died when I was four. I lived in and out of foster homes till I was fourteen, when the Stevens family decided to adopt me. It was here, in this home that I learned about Jesus and what he did for me on the cross. It was here that I was able to put all the past hurts behind me and look forward to my future. God showed me the sin in my life and called me to repentance. I’ve done all the things you’ve done, and maybe worse. Either way, God’s forgiveness is sufficient for any sin. He can take it away if you just ask. You say all the Christians you’ve met have been nothing but joyful; it’s because they have the joy of the Lord! Now, we’re not always that joyful. You must’ve just caught all of them on their good days.” This made them both laugh. “He can take away all this yuck you feel in your heart; whether it’s been caused by sin or struggle, it doesn’t matter, Jenna.”
They were both crying now. Sobbing, actually, and Margaret was praying over Jenna. Jenna felt something lift in her heart. She thought of what kind of future she could have as a Christian. Was it true that she had just had the wrong interpretation of Christians all along? Could it really be that Christians were big sinners too? Could she trust what Margaret was telling her?
“Jenna, I know you’re having a hard time right now. Trust me, it’s so much easier if you just surrender and stop trying to fight the battle to keep control of your life. Just lift up your insides to the Lord tonight.”
And she did. Taking shaky, shallow breaths, Jenna lifted her head to look at Margaret.
“Tell me what I need to do,” she said, smiling and crying at the same time.
Margaret smiled a huge smile and laughed, throwing her head back. Bowing her head and closing her eyes she whispered, “Repeat after me…”
Jenna giggled. She could already feel the freedom.