When Joy is Hard to Find

Happy Wednesday!

After almost a full week of mostly sunshiny weather, today is cold, wet and drabby. Yuck! Steve left early this morning to meet his buds, Andrew and Brian, for breakfast and since I have some time before I need to head into town to spend the day with Mom I’m writing.

It doesn’t take a genius to notice that I’ve written very little this past year. My last post was in September and since then I have struggled. Yup…struggled to write. Why?

Many writers say that, when bad or unexplainable events occur in their lives, they write. I used to think that I, too, used writing to process life but I have found that, for me, it doesn’t work like that. Apparently I tend to process life, decisions, and fears in my own head. I don’t know why.  Perhaps I just don’t want to put down the darkest, ugliest parts of my thoughts on paper (or in cyberspace) for all to see. But, if that is the case, that’s really not very honest of me, is it? Isn’t the primary purpose of writing to “let your voice be heard”? Maybe I haven’t wanted to write down what is happening in our lives because I don’t want my children, friends and family to know how much I worry on a daily basis about Steve, how sad I am much of the time when I think about life without him…how my heart breaks with every cough and tired sigh he makes.

Maybe…maybe…I just need to write anyway.

Fifteen months have passed since Steve’s diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer. The diagnosis hit us like a ton of bricks but we’ve managed to maintain a sense of normalcy in our daily lives. Our faith in God and our hope for complete healing helps us through each day. Truth is, the prognosis for this kind of cancer is bleak. Statistics indicate that 50% of people who are diagnosed with this kind of cancer will die within eight months. Of the remaining 50% only 18% will survive five years. So, you see, his future is uncertain at best. Steve has managed to beat the first set of stats…and for that we are more than grateful.

Life, however, has been harder for him the past couple of weeks and I’m so afraid that he is starting to give up. Yesterday, as he struggled to catch his breath after a coughing fit, he said, “I’m so tired of this!” Well, we just cannot have THAT so I find myself teasing him, cajoling him to eat, pushing him to get up and move, encouraging him to go out with his friends and saying, “It’s going to get better”. But is it?

I find myself getting pretty teary when I think of the dreams we had.  Dreams of taking trips and making memories together with the grandkids.  Now those dreams seem so far away. My heart shatters when I think of Steve not getting to know Leah, Landon or the new baby that is on it’s way as they grow older. The thought of my grown children not having their sweet daddy at the other end of the telephone to share their accomplishments, stories of their workday and family life, their hopes, dreams and worries just makes me so incredibly sad.  Tears just flow more easily some days and joy is a bit out of reach.

This morning, as I mindlessly flicked through Pinterest, I read a quote by Kay Warren. She said, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of ALL the details of my life. The quiet confidence that ultimately EVERYTHING is going to be okay and the determined CHOICE to praise God in all things.”

I agree. So today, in between the bouts of sorrow, despair and worry, I choose to praise God for the life we have been given, for the life we have lived and for the future, whatever that future may look like.

God has provided us a lifetime of joys. This experience with cancer is just a bobble in the time continuum. A rough patch. Even within this tough period, God is here and I believe that Nehemiah had it right when he said, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the joys of life that you have laid at our feet. Thank you for always being there, when life is joyful and when that joy is hard to find. Thank you for holding my husband in the palms of your hands and, although I pray for his complete healing of this horrible disease, I know that You know best. I only ask that you help me to show Steve how much he is loved on a daily basis and that he feels Your love and presence always.

Amen

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