Six years: remembering where you’ve been

I’ve been reading a lot of my old blog posts lately, which is both exciting and possibly rather embarrassing too. The reason I started though is because it’s been six years ago, nearly to the day, that I found out about my mom’s cancer diagnosis. It’s been a great time to remember and reflect on everything that happened that year, and in the years since. Maybe now more than ever, I’m struck by what a life changing event that was in my life. Obviously, of course. But I’m seeing new ways that it changed me. And I keep thinking how, wow, that was six years ago. It seems like it happened just yesterday, and also a lifetime ago, all at the same time.

That day is one I’ll never forget. I can still remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, when I heard mom had months left to live. It’s pretty doubtful I’ll ever forget that, or any of the long days that followed. As I’ve read some of the posts I wrote during that time, I’ve remembered how dark and uncertain things felt. How utterly helpless I felt and how very much I had to trust God.

I wanted to write today because I’ve also realized how many good things happened through that journey. We may not like the trials we endure in life, whatever they may be, but they really can strengthen our faith in a way that the good times never can. I know that I trust God more than I ever did before that day, and God has also reminded me of his provision when I’ve been uncertain about things in my life that have happened since then. So, in no particular order, just a few things I’ve learned:

  • There can also be incredible beauty and goodness in hard times.
  • I came to appreciate people in a way I know I never would have otherwise and people can care for you in so many ways.
  • Faith is a lot more about how we act and believe when we don’t get what we want or see God work the way we want than our response when things do go well for us.
  • Perspective is important. You can’t pretend like everything is ok and ignore your feelings. But you also do get a choice, and you can choose to be joyful in the midst of your circumstances, or you can become bitter and angry about them.
  • No matter what happens to you, you can be ok.
  • When you lose a parent, someone who has been a very important part of your life since your first day, their influence never leaves you. I may not be able to talk to my mom anymore, but I often find myself making decisions based on how she raised me and what she thought.
  • No one can ever replace her, but I also have felt the care and love of so many mothers and I see and remember my own mom through their lives.
  • When people say they think every day about someone they loved who died, they mean it.
  • Things that use to seem so important don’t anymore.
  • We really don’t know how many days we have on this earth, or how long our loved ones do. And if you have people you love, it’s probably good to tell them that you do.
  • Relationships are probably the most important thing we have. Achievements and things are pretty insignificant.
  • Rest if you need to rest. You can’t help anyone else or yourself if you don’t take time to take care of yourself.
  • Grieving is a really strange, fascinating process that will surprise you. No two people grieve the same way.
  • God is good. If I learned nothing else, I learned this.

The sermon at church today was on facing impossible situations, God’s strength to carry us through. I thought a lot of about that season of my life which felt so impossible at the time, and how I did make it through. So if you are reading this, I hope you can take some comfort and courage knowing that whatever you face, big or small, you can make it through. May God give you the peace and courage you need.

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