Kara’s Collection: Be Not Dismayed

from an article originally posted April 28, 2014...

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10

There is great power in the truth. When we look in the face of today, we can despair ourselves, the tasks set before us, and we can wonder at the plan. I look at these verses and my heart wants to scream, Do you see what I am facing? Do you know? Do you understand the depths of my weariness? And the gentle answer always comes: Come to me, come to me, come to me Kara, I will strengthen, I will uphold, fear not, fear not, fear not my daughter. Some days I simply don’t want to come. Some days I don’t want to be comforted, some days I want to forget.

And the hard in my story continues, and my hands are gently pried open to the dream I had for myself. The hope I envisioned for my today. Last night I told Jason the quiet dream I had for my story of what my late thirties would be. I cried in the shower that I wanted my story to look so different. I secretly wanted a pregnancy late in life. I wanted the baby that would keep us young. The little one that would wear us out and show us the frayed edges of life without sleep. I wanted to embarrass my older daughter with a new baby. The moment when she said, Mama you are too old for this. And we would all giggle and fall madly in love as we have with each of our babies. I would have to fight for my time with my baby; I would have been the only one equipped to nurse that baby. That would have provided me time with the baby everyone would have wanted to hold and shower with kisses. I wanted the hard in my story to be a sweet little thing to love. I cried big tears to Jason telling him the story I dreamed.

But instead of a routine of OB appointments, I have a rotation of doctors scratching their heads at my cancer. Instead of nursing a sweet new baby, I have hard implants. Instead of the rotation of diaper changes, I’m in the rotation of hot flashes. And instead of heading to the hospital to give birth, this week I head to the hospital to get a biopsy on a new tumor. And in that edge I meet, I don’t want to need to hear the fear not that rings all through scripture. I want to offer those healing words to another. I don’t want to need them like I need air or food. Fear grabs me, and I’m sent on the desperate search for new grace. And that, that is my good story.

I’m asked to open my hands wide to the dream I dreamed for myself, and in its place is something different. It is beautiful in its way, but it feels impossible to embrace. The receiving, embracing, holding wide my hands to this new test, new answer, new hard feels difficult for me today. Would you pray? Last week when I heard I would enter a new test, I simply texted Jason and said, I won a new biopsy. The challenge to keep moving, keep seeking life, to keep looking for grace, and frankly, get out of bed. The pull of shutting down is great. These tests are so wearisome, but life in faith, life with Jesus, well, it says keep going. There is love to give, love to capture, and grace to name.

I have to keep moving in the tasks of today. I have to quiet the lies of the dream I had for myself, and seek the grace in the truth of what actually is. I have to fight jealousy of those who walk through their days without constant thought of each breath and the beast that is growing inside. So I just move. As best as I can, I move.

Writing The Hardest Peace kept me moving and seeking grace. And now a few amazing opportunities to share my story and speak to women have come. It’s exciting to look honestly at my story and begin to imagine how I would encourage the honest story out of those I meet at retreats. Organizing and praying through those talks has been such an encouragement to keep looking for truth, where I’m so very tempted to wallow in the fear of the next test.

So, today, this day, I have life next to my 5-year old. We are going to play with friends, drink something warm and comforting, and look closely at the fear not that echoes all through scripture. The high calling of those two words feels impossible. But won’t that be the grace in today? The peace that is already ordained to meet me in this new hard. It’s there if I look or not.

What edges are you meeting today? What places are you struggling to open your hands to your story? How do your own dreams of what life would be make the seeing the grace in today hard, painful even? 

Where is Jesus longing to comfort you where you only want to be all bristles and edges? What would opening your hands to today look like for you? 

There is life to be found in today. I’m here in it. Praying I would meet the high calling of loving and living today. The pull to stop, to weep, to forget goodness is strong. But it’s time, it’s time to leave and chase the grace provided for this day. Tell me about the best of life that is meeting you today next to the hardest of life. It’s the tension of today, isn’t it?