He Is

Isa 51:12
I shoved my feet into my boots and grabbed a pair of mittens before I headed out the door towards the crusty snow that formed a dirty blanket in the field across from our house.

I turned back once and saw the warm lights of our home mocking me. Cancer?! In our house? Pedro and I had great jobs that we loved and two beautiful daughters who we loved even more. And now a monster had shoved it’s way into our tight-knit family of four.

Relatives had come to help out and comfort, and the words I wanted to say to one of them had impelled me out the door before I lost my tongue. Ms. Bossy had been blithely arranging my life without my consent, and my resentment had reached critical mass.

As I lurched through the snow (it’s not easy to walk in snow that has a three inch crust with two feet of powder underneath), I cried in frustration. Why had this happened to US? What had we done to deserve a cancer diagnosis?

A strange lump on Pedro’s neck and intense shoulder pain had turned into a menacing cancer diagnosis. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, they said. A very curable cancer, they said. One of the better types of cancer to have, they said.

Family and community gathered to comfort us. Sometimes, our ‘comforter’s’ opinionated and forceful advice often caused hysteria to well within me: Carrot juice enemas will cure his cancer! We’ll watch your kids for you (and keep tabs of all expenses—both monetary and emotional—so you can pay us back later). You need to visit OUR doctor, who is clearly superior to your current doctor. Eat more garlic and the cancer will cure itself.

While Pedro good naturedly listened to all their comfort and accepted their promises of help, there was no one who I felt really understood ME and my position. Their ‘comfort’ only made me angry or amused. I wanted answers. Solutions. A Heavenly How-To Handle Cancer Handbook dropped at my feet would be nice.

Instead, it seemed as if all I’d gotten was a bossy relative whose attempts to comfort felt more like fingernails on a chalkboard. All of my close friends and family lived far away—we’d lived in the community for less than a year.

My tromping feet couldn’t keep up with my spinning mind. I reached the middle of the empty field and stopped—too exhausted to move another step. My tear and snot-soaked mittens didn’t protect my freezing hands, and my brain and heart felt just as frozen.

“Why, God? Why? Who’s going to comfort ME?” I yelled. I looked around, hoping to see the answer written in the waning sunlight. Old Baldy, covered with pinked snow from the sunset, stared silently back at me. I turned to the left, and the Gallatin Range glittered in its grandeur as the last rays of sunlight silhouetted their majestic peaks.

A warm breeze filled with the hope of spring wafted across my face. “I am.” The thought popped into my head—distinct and full of promise. In that moment, I knew I had found my comforter.

God himself had answered my plea for a comforter—and he offers the same to you. (tweet this)

“I, even I, am he who comforts you.” Isaiah 51:12.

He’s there, waiting in the midst of your sorrow, confusion, fatigue, and frustration. He’s there, friend, waiting to comfort you.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Can not wait to read Thirty one days of comfort. Love this!

  • What a difficult situation to be in! And though I haven’t been there, I can imagine how the caregiver wouldn’t be included in the comforting.

    When I was being treated for cancer (just stage 0), one friend came over to bring us a dinner. She didn’t say much, but after she hugged me she also hugged my son. “You need a hug, whether you know it or not.” That’s one of my clearest memories of the time.
    Melissa recently posted…Which Way Are You Moving? – 31 DaysMy Profile

    • What a beautiful story, Melissa! You are so right–the caregivers feel just as bewildered and lost as the one who is ill (only they’re usually putting up a front and don’t show it).

  • Anita,
    So true and so encouraging as I know you have lived what you write about…blessings to you and your family 🙂
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…Come Cuddle Close (& Tips)My Profile

  • Oh Anita, I’m sorry to hear your family is going through this difficult time. Praying for God’s peace and comfort as you move forward, and for his love to shine through others. It is truly an inspiration how your faith shines through in this post.
    Abby McDonald recently posted…When Raising Them is Hard and You Feel AloneMy Profile

    • Thankfully, my season of cancer caregiving is over–but the lessons I learned are certainly helping me through the next season of life. Pedro has been in remission for eleven years now (but it took me a good eight years to recover from the stresses of caregiving) 🙁 ).

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  • Wow, this sounds like a great series (Comfort for Caregivers), Anita. It is true that well-meaning advice is sometimes NOT the way to comfort others. I have to think back to how many times I’ve given a “suggestion” to someone in trouble. And what they need is a hug, as your reader above commented.
    Betsy recently posted…Choosing Joy When Your Road Gets BumpyMy Profile

    • Hugs ALWAYS work :). I’m a real ‘suggestion giver’ by nature, and I’m learning to bite my tongue and wait to be asked (of course, I can blog my suggestions 😉 ).

  • He is there. What a powerful story!
    This can reach so many people, so thank you for your heart wrenching honesty.
    Sarah Donegan recently posted…Divine InterruptionsMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by, Sarah :). Our God is mighty and powerful (and a loving comforter!).

  • I can’t imagine going through what your family did…not with cancer, but I did lose my mom way too early. And anytime life goes a direction we don’t want or intend and it involves those people we share life with intimately, it’s hard. I also had the comfort of God…thank God. Your words are going to be so comforting to so many people…and any one of us could be in this place at any given moment. Can’t wait to see how God uses your journey to continue to help offer comfort, peace and hope to so many…including me. Bless you, friend!
    Meredith Bernard recently posted…Because the path to a full life is more important.My Profile

    • I’m so sorry that you lost your mom too early. And you’re right–what would we do with God to comfort and sustain us. Thank you for your kind words, my friend!

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  • Anita, I came by because you stopped by my place plus you are my neighbor at “Inspire Me Monday” and while reading I saw your 31 Days button to the right and am here now. I was a caregiver for 15 years and needed some of your wisdom. Mama passed away almost two years ago so I am in that recovery phase. I am actually writing a series on caregiving for Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood as I learned so very much in the doing. I am still needing the comfort and those hugs as some parts haunt me and some pieces were hard but rewarding and others were beautiful. So very much.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda
    ~ linda recently posted…PeaceMy Profile

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Linda. It’s nice to meet another person who ‘gets’ the whole caregiver in recovery thing! It’s crazy how the journey to recovery takes so long and is so misunderstood. May God continue to lead you and guide you as you recover!

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