Life’s Loveliness In The Face Of Suffering

13 12 2007

My friend Mary just left.  We had a nice lunch together.  She is my Orthodox sister who lives just down the street from us.  Her story can be read in part 6 of my orthodox journey.  She has suffered much in her life with bad marriages.  Her physical health is not good.  She has a touch of cerebral palsy and a huge dose of epilepsy.  However, she has a sense of humor that is beyond any person –that I’ve yet to meet. 

Mary has been crying a great deal about my cancer.  She tells me that she wishes that she could have cancer instead of me.  Yesterday, she cried so much that she ended up calling our priest for comfort.  I appreciate her tears and concern.  Mary has actually cried more than I have.  Perhaps I’m not really fully grasping my future.  Or maybe I’m just insulated with prayer.  I like to think that past sufferings have helped  me to asjust to my news of having cancer.

I’ve never had an easy life.  My parents divorced when I was young.  In many ways I raised myself.  In marriage, I gave birth to our four children within the first five years of our marriage.  I was beset with irrational fears in those days.  My husband made me get my driver’s license but I never really used it much–until I was 37 years old. 

It took me years to get past my irrational fears about so many things.  That was a type of emotional cancer that I don’t ever care to return to.  Our family always had so many finanical pressures.  Cars and appliances were always breaking down.  The children had spells of sickness that spread from one child to the next.

My son who is now 32 ,went through a horrible teenage rebellion.  That rebellion rocked our household . Jim and I could never agree on how to deal with Ben’s rebellion.  Then a serendipity came into Ben’s life.  During his senior year –his English teacher was able to reach  him in ways that no one else could.  Ben got his life together and eventually returned to his childhood faith.  Today he is a very sensitive , caring son and a wonderful husband to Linda. 

When Ben was 16 and in the midst of his rebellion–another tragedy took place.  Vera fell forty feet off of a mountain.  She has always told us that although she was headed face down–that a force turned her around.  She then landed on her feet and fell backwards–breaking her back.  She had to learn to walk again.

My children have always called me a basement prayer.  They can remember hearing my prayers in the basement.  It was my only private place of solace.  I wasn’t particularly devout about going to church.  However, I never gave up on praying and my favorite place was the basement.

Years went by….Jim and I became interested in the Orthodox faith.  Then one evening–he fell from his chair  at the computer and was rushed to our hospital.  Later he was air lifted to Vanderbilt.  His aorta had dissected up near his jugular vein.  He was in surgery for 11 hours and had to receive 14 pints of blood.  The Orthodox faith had given me a richness in faith that I had never known.  I walked with Jim through those months of recovery and relished a  lovliness within  suffering–that I had never known.  We both felt a special closeness with our Lord and with each other– that we had never known before. 

I’ve learned that taking up our cross is not the unusual.  It is the normal way to live.  Everyone has a cross to bear.  Mine just happens to be the cross of cancer right now.  I have no doubt that I will walk through this journey on a steady path.  There will be days that are darker than others.  I’m not naive to think that won’t happen.  However, I’m not afraid of losing my faith.  I don’t ask questions like: “Why is this happening to me?”  Those kinds of questions have no place in my heart. 

Instead, I’m asking God to have the glory from this.  I’m trusting that Christ’s love will reach out and touch others through something that satan would love to use to destroy my faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ felt the trememdous impact of suffering when he sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane.  He prayed:“O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”  (Matthew 26: 42)

I’ve learned so much through a life time of suffering .  I’m thankful for friends like Mary who deeply care about me.  I’m thankful for my family.  I’m blessed to be part of the St. Elizabeth the New Martyt Orthodox Christian Church.  Equally, I have many friends at the St. John, The Evangelist community from Ft. Campbell, Ky. 

There is loveliness  in suffering–if one has the eyes to see it.  My days as a cancer patient are spent just living life to the fullest.  I have work to do.  I have people who need me.  I am pressing on to just live a regular life–with faith in our Lord.  May each of you press on in faith , also.  I pray for my cyberspace friends.  I don’t know your names or anything about you.  Rest assured!  Each of you are in my prayers.  May each of you come to know the beauty of loveliness in the face of suffering.

May God bless each of you!

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5 responses

13 12 2007
operationmeaning

The beauty of your words overwhelm me! I am almost moved to tears! You have such a wonderful gift of reaching to the emotional core of things. I wish that I could be that tender, that open. I know that the Lord God will bless you and give you strength. Truly you are my inspiration. Love, Vera

13 12 2007
nichole3

Thanks be to God! I appreciate your comment so much! Love, Mom

14 12 2007
Maria

Mom – how beautiful your words are! I agree with Vera – they are absolutely beautiful! You have such a stong faith — and I could only wish that I had such a strong sense about things in my own life. You are a strong woman, mom — and the Lord will see you through this. I apologize that I have not been reading your blogs lately on a regular basis. I suppose I have succombed to a world of my own business. Love Maria

16 12 2007
Brent WC

Nichole, you are blessed to have such friends, and peace about your journey with cancer. I hope you have a really good week leading up to Christmas.

Love always, BWC

16 12 2007
nichole3

Thanks, Brent WC–I appreciated your comment.
love,
Sis

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