Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Here are three powerful words spoken to me and meant for you too

There's one more story I must tell you before we leave the days when I was first diagnosed with cancer some twenty years ago. This story is one I want to remember, too, because it shows us how God never leaves us. God is always guiding us, directing us and, in quiet whispers, is speaking to us. We have what we need when we need it, if only we listen.

The first few weeks of living with a cancer diagnosis was unsettling. I remember one day in particular when concerns began to overwhelm me. What if I had to deal with chemotherapy next week? What would happen to my kids? What about my husband? Would I die?

Remember how I happened to meet Linda when my Brownie troop paired up with her Girl Scout troop for a camping trip? And how she'd shared stories of her earlier bout with cancer? (You can click here for the story.)

Anyway, I could take my concerns to Linda. She understood like no other.

So this particular day, a Sunday, I was really unnerved and by chance, I spotted Linda at Mass that day. I longed for her advice. I longed for her encouragement. I didn't know this yet, but I longed for her faith. She was seated way across the church from me and after Mass she got lost in the crowd. I lingered, chatting with a few other friends but hoping to connect with her before heading home.

When I finally turned to  leave, only a handful of people remained on the church steps. Linda was not one of them.

I slumped my shoulders and sighed. My one ray of hope was gone. Somewhere inside me, the weight of my concerns dropped with a thud. How would I cope? How could I shake off the fear? Who would understand?

As I began to leave, I had to walk toward the side entrance of the church. As I headed that way, I had the feeling I should go inside the church, but I resisted. Why? Mass was over. The church was empty. Why?

I shuffled along my way, and now, as I began to pass the side doors, something still nagged me to go inside. Again, I resisted. What's the point of that? The place is deserted. Nothing is going on.

However, a few steps later, that little inner voice grew stronger, and I couldn't resist. Ok, fine. I am pretty unnerved. I'll go inside and say a prayer. Maybe it'll help.

As I grabbed the handle and opened the door, guess who was on the other side, heading out? Linda!  We stared at each other in amazement!

"I'm happy to see you," she said. "I was hoping we could talk. How are you doing?"

She listened intently as I dumped my fears on her. Just having her acknowledge how scary this is was helpful. Just having her listen, even though she couldn't really fix it, was helpful. Just verbalizing my concerns was helpful.
"I'm scared," I concluded. "I feel so alone." I shook my head. "I feel so alone."

She understood. It's that bone-chilling fear that this can't be fixed. It's the dreaded problem nobody can really help you with. There's no escape. No one can do this for you.

Finally, we said goodbye and headed to our cars. I walked slowly, absorbing all we'd discussed.

When I got to my car, I put the key in the lock and looked up to see Linda driving toward the exit. As she drove by, she rolled her window down, leaned out and shouted these few parting words. They stuck with me for a lifetime and I've got to share them with you:

"You're not alone," she said. "Remember, you're never alone."

I hope these words help you too.

Because she's right.

So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
Isaiah 41:10

Click here for the song, I Am With You by David Haas.

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