For the past several weeks, my reading has tended toward fiction, generally lighter fare selected from Kindle’s seemingly endless supply. Truly I love my Kindle for that reason. What bookworm wouldn’t?
Although an occasional escape into fiction-land can be a positive thing, when it is continual it is probably not so good. As for me, I’ve most likely been on the not-so-healthy side for a bit. Exchanging my storyline for a fictional character’s seemed the best choice at the time.
But today, during our holiday of Thanksgiving, I picked up a book about brokenness. Turning the pages of Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way, I felt I was reading the words of someone who understands what it’s like to want to escape, to trade my own dramatic tension for someone else’s.
Listening to the noise of a football game and sipping some water, I read a description of my past several weeks:
“I wonder if all the bad brokenness in the world begins with the act of forgetting–forgetting God is enough, forgetting what He gives is good enough, forgetting there’s always more than enough and that we can live into an intimate communion. Forgetting is kin to fear.”
I understand the forgetting and the rush of fear all too well these days. Why is it that we can’t seem to do what we ought to do? Why do we eat unhealthy foods and forget to exercise? Or, why do we run from God into books and music and any other distractions the world might offer?
I don’t have an answer for these or any other questions really. Reading further in Voskamp’s book, I found this push toward a healthier view:
“The way you always find the light in the dark is to make your hand reach out.”
I thought of my groping in the darkness of fear even as I had given up reading scripture and praying. Isn’t this how life can be, though? We continually fall and then search for ways to get back up, grasp for what will make us stronger and less likely to fall. Whether it is good or bad is our choice. But we keep going, somehow.
Ah, but it is the living that can sometimes trip us up. And how we live–whether in fear or otherwise–can possibly shine the light for others.
Voskamp’s words in the very first chapter made me wonder about my own life right now:
“Not one thing in your life is more important than figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain.”
Yes. How do we live with all the pain we carry around day after day? And when life throws you down in the mud–whether it is a divorce, job loss, illness, or a multitude of other problems–how do we continue to live? Will it be with fear and bitterness? Or thanksgiving?
I admit I’m not the role model for the perfect cancer patient. I’m angry far too often and have thrown myself numerous pity parties. Honestly, it’s amazing that anyone puts up with me right now. (Maybe that’s why I hang out with cats a lot nowadays.)
But, perhaps being real about my emotions and struggles while going through cancer treatment might just show another that they’re not the only one feeling this way. That there will be days–weeks even–when you feel you can’t go on.
But the days pass, and occasionally we find a little bit of light somewhere, like in a book. A bit of hope that someone has left for others who are still groping around in the dark.
Nothing has changed in my life since yesterday. I still have cancer and still face more surgery and more treatment. But I’m going to pick myself up today and start doing some of those things I should have been doing all along. Reading scripture, praying… I know I’ll fall at some point, but I’ll look for a speck of hope while I’m down on the ground.
If you’re struggling today, please know you’re not alone. There are a lot of us down here in the dust, trying to stand again.