if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ~mother teresa
today was my mom’s last radiation treatment.
even though the surgeon felt confident that she got everything during the surgery, and even though there were no lymph nodes involved, radiation has been an added, extra precaution in my mom’s breast cancer treatment.
this past friday, i took my mom to her radiation treatment. the radiology area is sort of in the bowels of the hospital…there are no windows so it’s rather dark and gloomy. once you pass the main waiting area, there is a smaller waiting area where the radiology patients sit and wait for their turn to ride in the 6-million dollar radiation machine.
there are eight chairs lined up around the perimeter of the tiny waiting area. on friday, an older woman was there to receive radiation treatment for breast cancer. directly across from me was a young man waiting on his grandfather (a world war II veteran) who was undergoing radiation. and then to the right of my mom was an spunky, older gentleman there to receive radiation on the mass on his vocal chords.
i also went to my mom’s first radiation treatment (three weeks earlier), and although there was a different cast of characters, the stories were the same. either they or one of their loved ones was fighting cancer.
i specifically recall at mom’s first treatment that there was an elderly gentleman sitting next to me. he was there with a family member undergoing treatment, but the sadness in his eyes wasn’t only due to their battle. he had, just a few days prior, lost his beloved dachshund of 17 years that week (a very tender subject for my mom and dad who lost one of their beloved dachshund’s about this time last year). on that day, there was another gal who was there with her mom who was undergoing radiation for a stage 4 cancer. her mother’s prognosis was grim and she shared the heartache of having to start to make arrangements with very little financial resources. then on friday, the older fellow to my right shared that he had recently lost one of his son’s to cancer. and added that he had, in fact, buried all four of his sons.
it’s hard to know what to say to someone who has lost so much. the capacity for pain and suffering in the human heart is astounding.
the first time i went with mom, i was a little taken aback at how freely these courageous folks shared such painful, personal stories. this is most likely because when i am hurting or afraid, my natural tendency is to do the complete opposite – i turn inward and fight silently. but i’ve been thinking about this a lot over the course of my mom’s radiation treatment. and when i went this past friday, i finally got it. the patients sitting in those waiting room chairs are kindred spirits battling a common enemy. they are sort of a makeshift little family while they are there.
we all know that sorrow and suffering is not solely reserved for cancer patients though. everyone has a story that will break your heart. all of us have experienced loss and betrayal. all of us have deal with disappointment, frustration, and failure. all of us walked through through the dark valley of doubt and fear.
the Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. psalm 34:18
there is no ‘get out of suffering free’ card in life. we all have pain and we all have scars. some we bear on the outside – evidence of physical injuries that have taken place in our lives. some scars though are born deep inside hearts from the emotional battlefield of life. sometimes our wounds leave us with limp, some injuries leave us permanently disfigured. in any case, we are all just part of the walking wounded.
i suppose you’re probably thinking that is a real downer of a blog post. and indeed, if i wrapped it up here, then it would certainly be a sad and dark post. but the truth is that i believe we can find meaning in our suffering. because it is our suffering that binds us together. we are kindred spirits fighting a common enemy in a sometimes dark, cruel world.
i believe that suffering can transform our lives. so often, pain and suffering make us feel weak and vulnerable and the best antidote to that might seem to be hardening our hearts to prevent further injury. but if we will allow it, pain and heartbreak can soften our hearts and make us more compassionate and more empathetic. it is then that we can offer healing in the form a hug, a warm touch, a kind word. patience and gentleness. or even just holding space for someone’s sadness. there are many ways we can help bear each others’ burdens. there are many ways that we can ease the pain and suffering of the world. and i believe that this is how we turn our suffering into something beautiful.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. psalm 147:30
we must also remember that we are not alone in our suffering. we are children of a good and loving God who sees our hurt and our pain. a loving God who came down from heaven and entered into our suffering. a Savior who suffered right along beside us…all the way to the cross. and the VERY GOOD NEWS is that in Him, we also have the promise of new life….a new life that will be free from the trials and suffering of the life we experience now.
so many of my friends and family are suffering right now…facing trials and dealing with physical and emotional pain and heartache. in fact, in light of the events in paris, it would seem as if the whole world is hurting. so yes, we may be battered and beaten and battle weary souls, but we have a good and loving God who walks right beside us in our darkest hours. and we have each other.
let the healing begin.
download this printable here (for personal use only please).