Recently I was approached by the group facilitator of our church’s Divorce Care support group. She asked me to speak about some of the proactive steps I had taken over the years. It’s hard to believe three years ago I went to my first Divorce Care meeting and once it was over I promptly handed back the workbook and told the facilitator that this wasn’t for me, that I wasn’t ready. Five months or so later, I went again and it was the start of exactly what I needed for my recovery. Being in a community of folks that had gone or were going through what I was going through helped. I firmly believe we are not meant to do life alone. The notion of self-reliance and self-sufficiency is so misconstrued and misinterpreted. We need each other.
With the group, I shared that one of the things I did during the craziness was to spend time searching through Pinterest. My sole (soul) purpose was searching for words of encouragement, something in which I could believe. I found some good ones – some that I still to this day recall and either sigh or smile when I read them. However, it struck me that while these words of encouragement existed, they weren’t alive. I don’t know that I can pinpoint exactly when I started to seek out the promises of God in my Bible but I know that as I searched for words of encouragement I found them. Eventually, I compiled a handful and I would stand in front of my bathroom mirror and say, “Cast all your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you (Psalm 55:22). You are clothed with strength and dignity and laugh without fear of the future (Proverbs 31:25). That the Lord is your shepherd; you shall not want (Psalm 23:1).” After awhile, I began to internalize them and began to really believe them. “Cast all my cares upon God, for He cares for me. I am clothed with strength and dignity and I laugh without fear of my future. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Most recently, I used these promises to remind myself that He knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11). So while the diagnosis of MS (let’s be real and include everything: foreclosure, bankruptcy, losing everything in Arizona, infidelity, divorce, suicide, and sickness) took me by surprise, it didn’t catch my God off guard.
Today, I got an email letting me know that a woman I fully respect and honor has received a diagnosis of cancer. I don’t love hearing this – in fact, I hate hearing this. But C is a remarkable woman who finds peace in the midst of every situation because she is confident that God was not surprised by the phone call she received. C doesn’t need Pinterest to carry her through this next stage in her life, but some of us that love her might – I still struggle this side of life in understanding why we are asked to walk the path we are given. Have I gone through my own health battles to remind her and others that there is hope? Am I here to remind her that it never occurs to any of us that one day we’d wake up sick and never get better? Will I still turn to Pinterest to find words of encouragement to grace the cards I will send reminding her that she is loved? Probably.
But I will also search for promises in my Bible because I know that is the life that is needed right now. And I am reminded that it’s my responsibility in this “tribe” of life that I am meant to offer encouragement, and support, and to not let her feel like she needs to be anything other than selfish about her own self-care right now. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2Corinthians 1:3-4).
So to C, and CM, and AS: I’m rooting for each of you and the challenges that life has brought to your doorstep. You’re not alone.