Hope is fragile but tenacious. These past couple of weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me. When I met with my social worker yesterday I confessed that I had lost some of my courage. Fear is something I have tried to walk through consciously since I turned 40. I really wanted to be free of all that would bind me and prevent me from living a full life. However, breaking my ankle, on top of everything that I was experiencing with the cancer symptoms, undid me for days. Each time I thought I had no more tears left in me, they would come, flowing like a waterfall. I was unsure I had any reserve of courage, hope or strength to get through this new turn in the road and all that would come with it.
Unless you have been here, you may not understand completely what I am talking about. These past six months have had a lot of trauma. I do not think that I mentioned that on the way home from the fall, a car ran the red light at the intersection by my home and would surely have killed both my friend and I had we stepped off the curb. I have so much to process about all the disturbing events since May. Yes, it has been balanced with much love and generosity. The totality of all that has happened to me bears a great cost. Both the good and the bad are shaping me in new and different ways. It’s not easy for me, nor is it easy for loved ones. I am not looking for sympathy or even affirmation. I desire understanding.
For almost 3 years, I have ploughed ahead, keeping my eyes on my Beloved and believing, despite the anticipated outcome, that I can survive the rough parts of this adventure. The experience has changed me, not always for the better. I find I have little patience for people who cannot be real. I am not looking for false hope, platitudes, or Messiahship. I get angry easily with people who want to “overhelp“ me and do not understand how important it is for my dignity and continued healing that I do for myself those things of which I am still capable. People say all sorts of bewildering statements to me. I myself have said things that are not helpful to people during times of crisis and I wish people would have said something to me. One of the most helpful responses that I have received since breaking my ankle is the following:
I am so sorry to hear about the ankle! Do rest and take care of yourself as much as you can. It is good to know you are in such good hands and company.
We are with you in our thoughts and prayers.
It is wonderful to have your picture, no matter whether you smile or cry.
Why did this bring joy to my heart? Nowhere in it is there an element of blame or punishment, but rather only empathy and compassion. I feel the care and love. There is gratitude that I am being taken care of by others as this person lives too far away to be here. Finally, there is an acceptance of who I am, whether I am having a good day or a bad day. This was the last email I read last night before turning my lights out and it brought delight. The words are simple and pure. Anyone can write them yet we often do not know what words will bring comfort or pain.
While many people are suggesting that this period of rest is a good thing for me, the fact is that I am running out of time. All the plans that I have are put on hold and my heart is broken. What may be my final Christmas will not be as I imagined. I am not even sure if I will be able to worship with my community or participate with family and friends as I usually do. I know God will bring good out of this and a blessing will be mine, but at the same time there has to be a mourning period and more letting go than I had imagined. Getting organized for my funeral and death will be slightly postponed. I was getting very used to resting–sleeping 12 hours a day and resting at least another 2-3 hours. Now however the day is over before it starts it seems as I find much of what I do exerts more energy than I have or requires more brain power to figure out how to do simple tasks. This is really the last thing I needed at this moment in my shortened life. Hope has been teetering for almost two weeks now.
This morning I listened to Jason Gray’s Love Will Have the Final Word. As I try to regain my step on my one good leg, I am heartened that God is not yet finished with me. Despite my lack of grace and kindness, this story is not yet over. Love will have the final word. I can still be transformed. This flamingo will find her courage again. I will be carried by a tenacious hope. What is temporarily broken will heal. My outlook will shift once again. I will do a hobble kitchen dance soon enough. I have always believed that this is a win-win situation for me. I am in the good hands of God who did not wish this upon me and will bring good out of this disappointment for me. I cling to the concept of praising God through it all, though on occasion as I stand in the middle of this Mystery, I do ask Really? Really, God? I do not expect an answer ever but I do feel the need to release my frustration to the One-Who-Understands. This One knows the ending of the story unlike the rest of us. My trust is still in my Beloved. Love will have the final word and this story is not yet completely written.
What final word do you hope that Love has for you?
What has someone said to you that has been helpful instead of hurtful in a trying situation?
Beloved, you alone know the plans for me. Increase my courage to face the days ahead. When fear rises, remind me that this is not yet the final word that Love will speak. Amen.