Penny is a probably one of the strongest women I know. An ordained minister, she’s served as a missionary in more places than I can even remember, sheltered more homeless, orphaned, down-on-their-luck, and misplaced persons than can be counted. She’s truly lived a life that has always embodied my idea of what walking in faith should be. I have both envied that walk – a walk of daily miracles and knowing God is her total sufficiency and that He’s in control- and been glad her walk wasn’t mine! (I prefer a bit more “certainty” in my walk – and control. I don’t like surprises!) She has always reminded me of my grandmother – kind and soft inside, but tough when she needs to be, and not afraid to speak the truth when she gets a “preach” on. Penny is a great person and wonderful friend. She’s also the kind of person you want on your side when it comes to a spiritual battle – she most definitely has wrestled with God more than once – and won!
Being Penny, she called me the night before my first chemo just to take my pulse. How are you doing? Are you OK? What’s going on? Of course, the conversation ended with “let’s pray.” And pray she did – for healing, for strength for God to be with us, to guide the doctors – all the things you might need going into a battle with cancer and facing the first chemo session. However, she said something at the end of the prayer that gave us both pause and cause for laughter. She prayed, “Lord, let tomorrow be joyful.” We were both instantly struck by that petition because of the absurdity and we laughed. After all, there are some things that just naturally go together – bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (I know, I’m dating myself on that one!) – but chemotherapy and joy? As strange and unlikely as it may sound, yes – chemotherapy and joy.
I’ve heard it said that joy can be found in the most unlikely of places. For me, that has always been true. The feel of wind on my hair, sitting on the front porch at the ranch with a 360 degree view of the setting sun, listening to rain on a tin roof, riding bicycles with my grandchildren – all these things are sources of simple and great joy for me. On my first day of chemotherapy, I found a different kind of joy – peace.
Something within me changed that morning as we made the 50 mile drive to chemo – something important shifted in my attitude – and with it, the universe around me shifted as well. Prior to that morning, I viewed the doctors as my enemy. Why? Because I felt perfectly fine and from my perspective, the doctors were the ones that were going to make me sick with chemo, surgery, and radiation – “cures” which felt more like medieval torture chamber techniques than medicines to my wounded soul. So far, I’d been poked, prodded, tested and suffered through multiple, painful biopsies and surgery to install a port and those physical wounds were still healing. The doctors were hurting me and I didn’t see a whole lot of healing going on. I wasn’t happy.
But as we drove to the battle field (I prefer to think of this journey as a war on cancer), I realized – truly realized – that this incredibly kind team of doctors and nurses had my back. They were my soldiers, my generals, my weapons experts, if you will, who were not only going into battle with me but fighting alongside me on my behalf so that we can eradicate this foreign invader and send it packing. The treatments which I had so despised and feared the night before, I viewed in a new light as the dawn rose. Rather than being an enemy, I finalized realized that chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, were not my enemy but a very powerful battery of weapons at my disposal to destroy this foreign invader in my body. This was a new truth that I had not internalized before – a new perspective, a new attitude. I found peace.
For weeks, I had cried silently into my pillow at night, or in the shower or bathroom so as to not let my husband see the depth of my distress. But, this on this day, weeping ended. It was morning and joy had come.
“…Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)
© Mary Kyle. 2013. All rights reserved.