Tuesday, July 5, 2011


in the past few months,  i've often heard, "i don't want to bother you with this..."  or  "you don't need to worry about that ..."   polite words expressed by thoughtful people.   like, all of a sudden, when a girl gets cancer everybody else's issues pale.  life pales and fades.  except that it doesn't.    sure, some stuff quickly lost its heat.  i could only get so worked up about that scratch on the dining room table or the burnt rolls in the oven or the always, long line at the bank.   it is kind of hard going through something big and, simultaneously,  worrying about something small.  it just is.  not that i haven't had a good-old-fashioned-mom-freak-out-moment [over nothing] since the diagnosis.  i have.  it happens.  and, let me tell you,  it's never pretty.

lately, i've been able to shut my eyes to some of the petty stuff littering life, but i haven't really wanted to close myself off from people and their problems.   in fact, i don't think i've ever been more aware of both.  it's like when you have something sad rattling around inside, you can actually see and hear hurt - perhaps even better. louder.  clearer.  it might be the echo in my ears.  it might be the ready tears in my eyes. it might be the fearful rent in my confidence.   i don't know.  but i do know i've never been more in tune with others and their troubling stuff.  could this possibly be the softening of a hard-hearted woman?  finally?  i sure hope so.  it has been a long time coming.

maybe it's a club-mentality kind of thing.  like when you get a problem large enough you can join (not for free, mind you) and obtain inner access to everyone else's issues.  i don't mean that flippantly.  i am serious.  i have never had more people write me via email or inbox or, believe it or not,  even the post office.   i have heard, story after story, of slash and pierce and pain.  i've listened to the heart-heavy-words over coffee and on the phone and even standing in the produce section.   i am so thankful for this sharing.   these tellings told me i wasn't alone.  they told me i, too, had a place to touch tender with words.  that was the message i heard.  even the saddest of stories can bring silver threads of beauty.

most of us are going through something - often hard somethings.  there is no exact hierarchy of hurting.   it wouldn't be fair to list in order of challenge the sufferings of so many.  but, let's just agree, people, we've got them.  they are everywhere.  so few of us are left unbruised. unblemished.  we can't always put our ugly, tarnished tales out on display.  it seems to be a rather fine line.  there can be such encouragement in sharing.   beautiful meeting.  even, incredible healing.  but sometimes we can't.  i know in my own family we've each had to find a place.  a place to put our sad.  a place for pretend.  a place to forget,  if just for awhile.   it has been lovely to wake and rush into a day without remembering.  but, sooner or later, it comes slamming back on the toes.  heavy things do.

in the days after april, we had to learn a little bit about masking our winces and swallowing fear.  you learn things like this when traveling through the raw times of life.  you learn a game-face.  a face which might be a little bit stoic, a little bit cool, and maybe, even oddly aloof.   i am typically a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve...and her dress and her skirt and her shoes....but, i too,  had to find a way to be cool.   a definite first - and definitely necessary.  we couldn't always, at every turn and with every question, explain how we really were doing.  we could not.   most everyone understood.  i had a few strange conversations, but, for the most part, people got it.  honestly, a cancer diagnosis gives a girl a lot of leeway.  "oh, don't mind her, she has cancer you know."  it has been one of the tiny silver linings.

there is no right or wrong way in going through something wretched, but i am sure going through with someone is good.   i cannot quite comprehend how anyone walks this kind of road solo.   it isn't conceivable.  i know there are people shouldering great big burdens, impossibly alone.  i find this heartbreaking.  breath-stealing.   how, i wonder.  how?  i mean it ... HOW?  hurting people need others.  there is something in the sharing.  i know this now,  better than ever.  passing off  just a little, here and there, lessens the load, lightens the eyes.  i haven't been able to answer every note or card or gesture, but i want you all to know how much they have meant.  each evening sitting on my bed or my porch swing or even on the curb below my bricked mailbox i have opened up a card or two or three.  your words were like honey.   sweet honey.   dripping down the dry throat of a tired and fearful and worried woman.  sweet on my sour tongue.  wet sugar to my bitter.

sometimes we doubt our words.  they aren't right or perfect or enough.  we don't know what to say to someone in struggling places. but if you ever, again, think twice about sending a note or touching a shoulder or leaving a message or dropping off cookies, hear the rise behind my word-voice now, "do it!" act on that thought, that good intention. grasp hold before it is gone and forgotten.  brief moment failed.   don't miss the chance to minister well.   we humans need it.  we all need it.  we brokenly forget how much we are in need.  whether strangely open or oddly cool, God created us for connection and for connecting.   some of us pretend to be pretty good on our own.  and we are --- for awhile.   we can all swing the all-by-myself thing occasionally.  sure.  but solo is only so good when we are under the crush of something so big.  God intended us to,  "encourage one another and build each up up, just as you are doing." 1 thessalonians 5:11.   encourage. build. drip honey. heal. be sweet. tell and be told ... just as you are doing.    

"pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul 
and healing to the bones." ~ proverbs 16:24


Simply LKJ said...

Jody, what a beautiful message. Yes, sometimes we are so wrapped up in thinking that our words will come out wrong, be taken the wrong way, that we let those moments slip us by.

Anonymous said...

will you please write a book and let me buy the first 100 copies for all of my friends? It never fails that when I intend to just quickly check email then take care of other 'to-dos' during my small moments of evening free-time, you've posted yet another entry and rip apart all my plans to be quick on the computer. Your raw and addictive writing... and fascinating stories... you live life well with a precious perspective and I can't resist reading over and over and over and adoring... lu

carolyn bradford said...

Anonymous...I couldn't agree more!!! If I write any more I am fearful of crying..and I thought there weren't many tears left!! Jody, I've never been able to relate to someone as well as I can to you, your family, your feelings, your words....thank you for being just who you are.