Laying on the cold, hard table, I reflected and prayed as I do every year during my annual mammogram and ultrasound. The source of my contemplation used to be fear, considering all the “what if’s.”
But recently, God’s work in me generated a new source: gratitude. Each time the radiologist says, “No new lumps to be concerned about.” I thank God for another year (give or take) of life.
Having mammograms since my 20’s, the breast surgeon calculated my cancer risk at 30%. My Mom is a 2-time breast cancer survivor and my brother, a 5-year cancer survivor. I’ve walked the road of cancer treatment before, albeit alongside.
I don’t have this fear thing down yet. But I survived hopelessness, a dark, lonely place.
The past few years, when I land on the other side of an unwelcomed circumstance, I find a little more joy, hope and peace than when I entered the barren wastelands of the wilderness.
While I still struggle with fear, anxiety, and a host of unwanted emotions, the sweetness of my Savior’s presence has become a garden sanctuary amidst the desert existence.
*Heaven’s closer than its ever been; I can feel you so close, so so close. Brandon Lake
Oh, there’s still anxiety, anger, and fist-fights for control. But I wouldn’t trade the anguish for a moment of the gain: the glory of His presence.
And then there’s the growth. If I allow my Father to form me, as the Potter with His carefully compounded clay, I’m potentially molded into something strong, useful and beautiful.
His are the gentle hands, unlike the calloused, ruthless hands of Try and Try Harder.
To be molded by them is burdensome and backbreaking. It may be seductive initially, but the finished product is warped, charred fragments of the original design, a lifeless piece brought forth by the knarled hands of the nefarious potter.
This sounds brutish and hyperbolic, but I’m a recovering survivor of try and try harder.
Lured by the promises of success and significance, I sat on his wheel for years, allowing this imposter to do his worst work.
But God’s grace abounds in weakness, and His rescue was swift and absolute in His perfect time.
He threw open wide His windows of forgiveness, mercy and restoration, the process being slow but steady.
As Master Potter, the beauty and singularity of His plans are slowly emerging as He crafts a new vessel.
Difficult at times, arduously slow at others, hope, not worthlessness, fills my soul. Not every day, but the hopeful days outnumber the rest.
One of the priceless gifts He’s bestowed: today and learning to be present in it.
Joy now exists today. Peace whispers in the winds of today. Birds serenade with their hopeful melodies of today.
Not for yesterday or tomorrow.
I believe deeply in reflection for processing, healing and practicing gratitude to carry me through my tomorrows; I reflect as a collaborator with the Trinity in order to glean and grow.
But when I ruminate on the past, which I do, it robs me of the joy God orchestrated for me today.
Like the bride’s gown meticulously laid out the night before her wedding, the visible reminders of tomorrow’s joys bring anticipation and hope.
We anticipate the joy of a coming birth, celebration or vacation, but these won’t sustain us in today. Because the future is uncertain.
- Life and death coexist.
- Celebrations fade.
- Vacations end.
Lasting joy is found in the gifts of today.
And when I feel there’s nothing to celebrate, I try looking for the small fragments of joy around me.
The smell of a backyard fire transporting me to the New England White Mountains—my brother and I collecting firewood for the campfire while our parents set up the tents.
The soothing, ambient glow of the eastern three-quarter moon as it peers through wafting cirrus clouds, while the burnt orange and pink colors of the sun cascade below the western horizon.
The barely-cracked window into my daughter’s soul as she articulates the deep but scarcely sorted-out longings of her heart during our hushed goodnight rituals.
Hope too, is found in today. I have a secure, eternal hope I cling to, sometimes desperately. Yet while my feet are gravity-bound to earth, God gives me hope today.
Stare too long into tomorrow and worry steals joy. Swoon over the secret unknowns of next year, and peace is lost today.
Perseverating over the injustices or sorrows of yesterday, I lose sight of the hope in today.
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27
What steals the minutes and hours in your today?
- Too many to-do’s
- Lack of sleep
- Health issues
- Sorrow or grief
- Anxiety or depression
- Try and try harder?
I continually work through my grief over yesterday and worries about tomorrow. I don’t know what you’re facing today, but is there one thing you can do to begin your journey to today?
- Counseling for your past
- Finding a mentor or community of support
- Impenetrable time with Jesus
- Saying no when you feel that nudge, despite what try and try harder say
- Rest a few hours a week
- Journaling about a loss
- A financial or spiritual guide to sort out the future?
Join me this week. Start with the song* above, then look for the joy, peace and hope in today, staying present to the gifts, small or big; He’s waiting for you!
You will make known to me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11