I pre-ordered Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life by Michele Cushatt after Steady Eddie forwarded me an email from Michael Hyatt entitled “5 Lifelines for Finding Peace in Difficult Times.” This email enumerates five principles Michele Cushatt elucidates in her memoir, and I thought, “Hmmm. This sounds like something I’d like to read.” So, on a whim I clicked over and preordered it for my Kindle. (I also did it because Steady Eddie was leaving to go out of town on his fortieth birthday and I hadn’t even bought him a present. I thought at least I could have a new book delivered to his Kindle app on his ipad while he was gone.) I started reading it while I was laid up in bed with the Evil Twin Sister of the Flu which attacked me last Thursday (and from which I am still recovering), and I made short work of it. What an engaging and encouraging read! I was immediately taken in by Michele’s story. She starts her memoir with “The Phone Call”–that November day when her world was rocked with a cancer diagnosis. We then travel with her through countless surgeries and procedures and a couple more cancer diagnoses. She discusses how through it all God has been faithful, how she has seen His hand even in all her fear and anxiety and confusion. However, when the book grew the most interesting and compelling for me is when she shares parenting struggles. She and her husband were almost through raising their three boys when God dropped a trio of preschool-aged siblings into their lives, and they became their foster parents. Parenting these children (and their biological children, of course) has been no picnic, but they have continued to do it with faithfulness by God’s grace. I was really encouraged by Michele’s story. The longer I live, the more I realize that no one gets the life he or she necessarily wants. Everybody’s life is “unexpected” in one way or another. Michele shares with honesty and candor what happens when you keep showing up for life even when things aren’t what you expected. This is a message I needed to hear.
Here are a few quotes that resonated with me:
In a moment, cancer rewrote my life as a worst-case scenario. I hated it.
But rather than savor the day with gratitude, I wanted a stockpile of reassurance about tomorrow. In my fear of death, I almost missed life.
From the moment of my diagnosis, through the scans, blood tests, and surgeries, I sought to find my rest by building a place with a view. I wanted to see into the future, to predict the outcome of my life and gain a sense of peace based on what I could see. Simply, I wielded worry as a means to control.
A house on sand.
But rather than control my circumstances, my circumstances controlled me. I focused on the view and, in the process, forgot about my foundation.
Thirty-three verses before Jesus’ story of the wise and foolish builders, he said words that held the key to saving me: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
Boy, I sure tried. Fooled by both panic and pain, I convinced myself that worry gave me a measure of control. From morning until night, I attempted to worry myself into wholeness, as if preparing for the worst would guard me from any unwanted surprises. I’d had enough of those.
Only it didn’t. Worry, like cancer, consumes life, eating away at a person from the inside out. It exaggerates the unknown and clouds the known until the worried person sees only the horror of what might be, rather than the beauty of what already is.
This is SO me. Really–I could’ve written it. I pray that I can take Michele’s lessons to heart and remember what she shares in Undone. (Zondervan, 2015)
- Michele Cushatt’s blog
- Podcast interview with Michele
- Interview with Michele on the Insight for Living Special Needs blog