“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.” Acts 5:20
Her name is Kara. Yes, with a K. She is the young wife of a young pastor and mother to four simply beautiful children. And she is very sick, cancer in her blood and bones and brain. She is playing end-game. A little over a year ago, I told her if she wanted to write a book about her life that I would help her. She said okay, and that’s how our friendship began.
We did not know if Kara would live to see her book release on October 1, 2014. We just didn’t. But she saw that day and as of this writing continues her valiant fight for the gratefulness of every breath. The title of her book is The Hardest Peace.
Some people might think when Kara found the lump in her breast on July 23, 2012, that her life was all but over. The reality for Kara is that’s the day a new life actually began, and she has been finding more and more of it ever since. She’s not Pollyannaish in outlook; she’s seen far too many doctors, felt far too much pain, and taken in far too much chemo. But she is grateful, even to the point now of saying she’s grateful for the cancer. No, not for what it’s done to her, but for what it’s shown her. Or maybe how it’s helped her to see.
I don’t have the word count to share with you all the things Kara has and continues to see in her new life. But I will share this one because it’s always been a challenge for me, and because you’re human like Kara and me then it may be for you too.
She’s found new life is letting people help her, in being dependent on others. Sure, that’s not some never-before-heard insight, but we all like our independence, don’t we? We like to know we can do things on our own, and to a certain extent, we like for others to know it, too. It’s probably equal parts self-reliance and self-respect. But with cancer treatments and being a wife and mother and writing a book and a list of other things, there’s no way she could do it on her own. I couldn’t either and neither could you.
That surrender—I can’t do this, I need help!—has allowed a host of people, and maybe even some angels in disguise, to become a part of an extremely heart-rending but ultimately hope-building story. One in that host of people is me. Kara wanted to tell the people all about this new life but she needed help to do so, and I was able to help her.
I don’t know how much longer Kara has to live. All I know for certain is that my life has been enlarged by her daily example of refusing to be selfish with her pain. I realize that last phrase may sound somewhat strange. Trust me, it’s not. But if not me, trust my friend Kara. She’s got no time for lies.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: On an Independence Scale of one to five, with one being completely dependent on others and five being totally self-reliant, where would place yourself? How does the idea of finding new life via surrender sit with you? Is there any hesitation there? If so, why or what is that about? When was the last time you said, I can’t do this, I need help!? What was the result of your asking?
Yahushua, we know it is more blessed to give than to receive. We also know, by way of people like Kara, that it is also quite a blessing to receive. But we have to be willing to let others in, and that’s hard for most of us. Forgive us when we’re selfish with our pain. And teach us, gently please, to notice more of the life around us regardless of the predicted length of our days. Amen.