Kara’s Collection: Starbucks Gazing

from an article originally posted April 9, 2014…

I’m in this large coffee shop sitting directly across from a most beautiful woman. She has shockingly white hair, and she has aged so gracefully. She just pulled out her smartphone to share pictures of her pride to her friend. She is smiling over her grandchildren in the picture. She’s wearing comfortable clothes and running shoes. She cares about how she looks, but not too much.

I could feel so jealous of her, if it weren’t so evident that she loves—it shows in her deep laugh lines. Her love shows; I can’t explain it, it just does. She’s beautiful in a way I long to be beautiful. She radiates peace. She reminds me of a face in North Carolina that has loved big, loved me big—loved everyone big. She reminds me of my dear Juanita. Oh, I wish I were brave enough to risk a picture for you all to see too.

I came here from my oncologist’s office. I moved up my appointment a week because of the agony of my mouth sore... I have tried nearly everything you all have offered. But this ulcer in my mouth continues to grow and grow. Last night I simply could not speak anymore the discouragement was so thick by the end of the day. I’m learning better how to manage the pain throughout my day, but by bedtime I’m weary of trying to be strong.

When my kind-faced doc pointed a flashlight into my mouth, his face reflected much pain. He lamented how torn my mouth has become with this drug. He told me he was going to have me stop my medicine for it to heal. I refused. He and I then talked about options. We have another medicine we are going to see if my insurance will cover to help heal my mouth. And he asked me to slow down my dose. I relented. The pain is just too great.

So, I came from that appointment to a room full of coffee drinkers that are walking through the moments of their days in different speeds. Those frantic and full of going, those slow and quietly enjoying the paper. Students, moms, grandparents, and people interviewing for some type of employment. And I sit here looking at the grandma, the kind faced woman who has lived well. It’s a wonder to behold. I know I don’t really know her story. No doubt she has had hard days, too. But I like imagining her loving, her living, her joy captured.

I see articles with breakthroughs in cancer and I hope. I read their words and I wonder if their pills will make it to me. Sometimes I suffocate under the hope of healing. Some days I wonder if it will come too late, some days I hope they will make their way to my tired body. Some days I love to read their words, and some days they frighten me. And I fight, fight, fight my way back to what real hope is. It isn’t found in a pill, in my cheek healed, in my future days, or grandma dreams.... No, those are not where my hope rests. And I take my next step, my next moment living in faith that my story is not a mistake, my days are exactly numbered, my path set before me, and the faithfulness and grace to meet my moments comes. Jesus quietly meets these hopes, fears, faults, Idols, and struggles and loves me right here. Right here longingly looking at a face of a beautiful woman who has lived many years well.

Do the longings of your heart sometimes scare you? Are they difficult to articulate when they feel impossible? How do you meet Jesus in those fears? Some days finding the peace that was intended to meet us in our days is hard to find, hard to see it as we are looking too intently on our fears and forgetting, forgetting to look. It’s here.... I’m sure of it. I’m just going to waller in this grief for a bit, but I look at the stack of grace reminding books beside me and I know—I know—I know in their pages I will be reminded of goodness and truth. I pray we all keep searching, seeking, moving past our fears and seek grace, joy, truth. What books, what books of the Bible, which writers remind you of grace in the midst of your hard? Which writings remind you of the sovereignty of God? Which friends point you to truth? How do you hear the gospel in your hard? How are you uniquely met in your hard, when life’s struggles seem to be suffocating?