Peace. Hope. Joy.
How can I possibly feel any of these things with my current situation? A few months ago, my husband had surgery to remove a tumor in his brain, and was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Peace. Hope. Joy.
How? We have two children, 7 and almost 6. They have a GOOD LIFE, and are filled with so much joy and happiness. They smile, and laugh, and just love life. Their biggest problem is having to pick up their toys at the end of the day, or heaven forbid have to brush their teeth AGAIN! They don’t understand why they SHOULDN’T have peace, hope, and joy. They don’t understand what cancer is.
Peace. Hope. Joy.
I’m a stay at home mom, who homeschools. My husband has been off work about 4.5 months. There are so many unknowns. So, so many unknowns. And so many reasons to feel anything but peace, hope, and joy.
But I do. I really do. Maybe not every day. But most days my mind is filled with peace. An unexplainable peace that I shouldn’t be feeling. My heart is filled with hope. A strong hope that just makes me want to RISE UP. And my spirit, well it’s filled with joy. A joy that overflows, and makes me able to be thankful for today…thankful for the little things…and the big things.
There are times when I think “How? How can I have so much joy right now? How can I feel happiness? Why am I calm? My family has been hit with cancer! I should be an utter, complete mess.”
But I’m not. I’m really not. Now have I had bad days. Yes, of course. There have been plenty of times that I’ve just cried, I mean literally cried out to God. There’s been sobbing in the shower. There’s been days that feel full of doom. But they have always been short lived, and I am brought right back to peace, hope, and joy. When I really stop and think about it, I’m left in awe that I’m able to experience this, because I’m sure there are many in similar situations, that unfortunately don’t.
I realize this is not the norm, and I only have one explanation for what we’re experiencing.
I know, an elementary school answer, right? The right answer is always God isn’t it? But it’s the truth, and is truly the only explanation of why Brad and I are doing so well.
Now I need to stop and be truthful right here….when I started writing this post (everything written above) I was feeling good. Full of peace, hope, and joy. I felt inspired to write what I was feeling. I didn’t get to finish it so I saved what I had written, and then slowly over the next two weeks, that peace, hope, and joy seemed to slip away. I kind of knew this would eventually happen. I knew this journey wasn’t going to be perfectly smooth. I knew times would come that just seemed HARD.
Brad started back to work part time, and he’s been much more exhausted. I’m homeschooling, and it’s…well..February…cabin fever…need I say more? Add on little things that just layer on top of each other like mild sickness, that to-do list that I’m not getting to, and just plain trying to stay on top of it all (including this new blogging venture). Mix in the emotions of fear, questioning, and not feeling God’s presence so strongly as you were before. Not going to lie I’m now feeling the exact opposite of peace, joy, and hope.
And as I was having these feelings, I kept thinking back to this post that I started. I was feeling so good, so optimistic, and just ready to take it all on. Now? I feel like I’m crumbling, weak, and full of unpleasant emotions like anger, sadness, loneliness, and “whoa is me”.
Perhaps the adrenaline is finally running out. Maybe the encouragement hasn’t been as strong. Maybe I’m just plain sick of not having a “normal” life. Maybe this is a typical part of grieving and it’s completely normal. I’m not really sure.
The same day of writing and confessing my struggles on paper, my mom sent me a devotional that was on Joshua 1:9, the story that became our family theme. (If you missed how our story began, check out these blog posts: Jericho 1, Jericho 2, Jericho 3.)
The very first lines were, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. (Not feeling either…) Do not be frightened (totally letting fear creep in), and do not be dismayed (I can think of some stronger words to describe how I’m feeling at this point…) for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.
I have read this verse over and over the last few months, it’s plastered all over our house, on my jewelry, and we even have “Be strong and courageous” T-shirts and bracelets. But what really stuck out to me THIS time was that first line. Have I not commanded you…let that sink in…HAVE I NOT COMMANDED YOU...Oh Lindsey, you haven’t been listening….God is commanding me to be strong and courageous. It’s easy to be strong and courageous, and full of happiness and joy when it’s a natural feeling. (I should note, I am SO thankful that God has blessed us with those feelings naturally these past few months) But what about when it’s not coming naturally?
Do you think God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous because He knew times would come where Joshua wasn’t going to feel strong or courageous? Joshua had a big job on his hands, and it was a job that was going to require strength and courage. God straight up tells Joshua, there is no reason to not be strong and courageous, because HE IS WITH Joshua. What a comforting promise, and a promise for all of us. If GOD IS WITH US, why should we fear? Or doubt? Or question. God’s promises are just that. Promises.
We are not guaranteed an easy life. In fact trials WILL come. I’m beginning to realize that there will be times when we need to be purposeful in our thoughts and actions. If I’m truly going to be obedient to God, when He commands me to be strong and courageous, I need to put on my big girl pants and DO IT. Even if I’m not easily feeling it. If He tells me not to be frightened, then I make those fearful thoughts leave my head, and tell Satan to leave too. If He tells me to not be dismayed, then I purposefully CHOOSE JOY. For the Lord my God is WITH ME, wherever I go. Just saying that over and over brings comfort and feelings of peace.
Now I’m not saying that we can’t have moments of weakness. It’s good to let our emotions out, and it’s good to bring our burdens to God. It’s ok to FEEL whatever it is we are feeling. But there comes a point where we are left with two choices. To wallow in it, and let it destroy us. (What Satan will try to use for his benefit.) Or we can follow what Joshua 1:9 says and RISE UP because GOD IS WITH US. Maybe I would have been in a better place this last week if I listened to God’s commands, instead of my own thoughts and feelings.
While this blog post has taken a twist to what I originally thought I was going to write about, I promised God and myself that I would be open and transparent throughout this journey, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
While writing this piece, the song “See a Victory” by Elevation Worship kept playing in my head. This is one of Brad’s favorite songs, and a song that has been very encouraging to us.
It’s a song that fills me with all the right emotions.
It’s a song that encourages me to be strong and courageous.
It fills my mind with peace, my heart with hope, and soul with joy.
Guess what I’m going to have on repeat the next few days…
Choosing to be strong and courageous,