Have you ever been surrounded by a large group of people, maybe even hundreds or thousands, yet felt all alone? That was my experience. I walked into the convention center, and my senses were assaulted by the incessant chatter, the bright lights, and the competing scents of all the different women’s colognes and perfumes. It was almost too much to bear. I wanted to find my seat and remain affixed to it, and bolt for the door and head to the safety and solitude of my car, both at the same time.
An acquaintance who regularly follows my posts on social media approached me from behind. As I turned to see who it was, she stretched out her arms and offered a hug–the kind that conveyed understanding. Somehow she seemed to understand my pain, and our experience. She whispered in my ear, “I’m praying for you and your family!”
I thanked her as I pulled away. If her embrace had lasted much longer, I might have dissolved into a puddle of tears right there where I stood. Yet this was not the time or the place for my well-guarded tears. We had gathered to praise, worship, and listen to some teaching from some of the best female Bible teachers of our time at a sold-out women’s conference.
After she let go, we stood side by side and she shared how she understood: she was a widow of several years.
Just a week later, I came across her post on social media about how today she would have celebrated her 24th wedding anniversary. I surprised myself when I stared at my computer monitor, weeping for her loss. Sadly, she celebrated solo while her husband waited for her in heaven.
Tears stained my cheeks as I read her post. Next month, should God allow, I will celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary. But over our 29 years of marriage, we have battled three bouts with cancer, most recently over this past year.
Physically, I am exhausted and in pain. Mentally, I am numb. Emotionally, I am weary. He was diagnosed the very same day my book, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” released. Coincidence? I think not. It’s like the enemy was taunting us: “Do you still really think hope prevails?” But our answer has always been a resounding yes because God is still on his throne.
It’s been a hard year full of doctor’s appointments, surgeries, lab work, and chemotherapy treatments. I have relied on friends to pray us through the days, weeks, months, and at times, through the night.
But honestly, I am incredibly grateful that we’ve had this experience together. I am grateful now when I hear him snore. I am grateful now that I can still ask him how he’s feeling. I am grateful every morning when I wake and realize God has given me, and my sons, one more day with my husband, their father, when the doctors gave us a very grim report.
I recorded a radio interview about handling the blues or depression over the holiday season, especially for those going through a time of loss–not just necessarily death. It could be loss through divorce, or physical health, or moving away, or family members incarcerated, or dealing with addiction. I shared that it’s a matter of our perspective. What is so crucial is to first remember the reason for the holiday: It’s not about us. It comes back to God and who He is and what He has done for us, and then what He wants us to do for others. The holidays may not look like we thought or even hoped they would, but we can always find something to be thankful to God for.
When I think of that friend on her anniversary, I pray that the God of all comfort will comfort her heart.
But I’m also remembering some of the not so little things I have to be #thankful for that sometimes I take for granted:
- The nausea, vomiting, and fatigue? Means the chemotherapy is killing the cancer.
- That snoring? Means he’s breathing.
- The socks on the floor? Means he came home.
- The dishes in the sink? Means we had food to eat.
- The children making loud noise? Means my children are home with me.
- These are the important things that matter.
Scripture tells us to “Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
I hope this week finds you recognizing all you have in your life to be thankful for. I am thankful for each one of you who take the time to read, comment, and/or share my posts. Thank you for being part of my family. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails