Today, I have spent a good chunk of my handful of waking moments, crying and feeling sorry for myself. I am weary of this road. It seems to go with the cancer journey – at least for me. I am so awful tired of chemo and it’s side effects….really DIRECT effects. I hobble with my numb feet, dragging my overwhelmingly tired body to the fridge for the start of breakfast at the ungodly hour of 10:45 a.m. Gone is the energy I had to travel the globe, listening to women share their hearts in Thailand, India, Cambodia, Cameroon and so many other fascinating countries. Gone are the nimble fingers ready to create art or play with my grandchildren.
Now, I fumble with my glass of lemon water; my neuropathy-filled fingers can’t handle the weight. I crawl back to bed, exhausted and no longer hungry after making the lukewarm oatmeal. Why did I even bother getting up to fight for a little oatmeal? I rarely eat it anyway. I recover in bed with a rest. I catch my breath and work up the energy to try the next thing. A bath.
I fight for a bath. I haul my limp, uncooperative body up the stairs to the bathtub. While running the hot, steamy water, I pour in a detox powder a friend gave me. (If only it would remove all traces of chemo and its effects.) I moan and groan as I lower my bone-tired body into the comforting, hot water. I cry. I cry because I can’t be the mom and grandma I want to be. I cry because people have asked me to serve women in faraway places, and I won’t be going. I cry because I hurt all over and my heart hurts in places I didn’t even know were there.
A new friend, Blythe, texts me as I return downstairs to try to dress. “Try” is the operative word. She’s “praying for me, calling out for mercy on my behalf” and she’s meditating on Scripture for me because she knows I don’t have the strength for it. She gives me Matthew 11:4, 28 Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side….”Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest….learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Blythe is grace and kindness in my hard, hard morning, reaching toward me, being with me. I just cry.
This new friend showed up in the middle of my hard, hard, stupid crying day. She is believing and trusting the heart of Jesus even when all I can do is cry. I texted her that I would fight to see grace. I’ve seen the love of Jesus melt the hardest of hearts and change the darkest situations.
My daughter, Katie, and another friend, Hannah, both kindly respond rapidly to texts for help with food and bath salts. Grace quietly moves into my day, like cats’ feet, and I feel loved and cared for in my crying, bad day. It takes loving community, and I vow to be the person who reaches out to broken, crying people when I am well enough. I take another nap.
I make another meal; it takes way more energy than I have, so I rest on Katie’s sofa. There, I see a little set of books written by my grandson. I have time and energy to read them, and so I do. When I get to the third book, my tears flow again, but in a strange way, they are happy tears. My very first grandson shows me I have meant something to his story, and I am thankful. It’s a quiet moment of actual, pure joy. Joy snuck in.
I’m not going to go all preachy on you and say all is well, because I am still having a crying hard day. But, somehow, with grace-filled family and friends, and my grandson, my day was redeemed in some mysterious and important ways. They have the courage to believe that God is good and for me, even on the darkest days. And, they had the courage to “show up” for me and show me what they believe.
“Joy is the heart’s harmonious response to the Lord’s song of love.” ~ A. W. Tozer.