NOTE: The following is an excerpt from the book Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again: Living With Losses of the Heart © by Kari West. All rights reserved.
43. Where’s that knight on a white horse?
I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand … For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”
The longer we live, the more experience we have with losing. But that doesn’t mean we get better at it. There are times we long for rescue.
Perhaps right now you are going through a divorce and are facing the loss of the familiar props upon which you built a life—your home, possessions, and social circle. Maybe you depended upon these props for your security. Or a loved one died and you are now forced to relinquish the roles you once played as somebody’s wife, or mother, or daughter. These roles and accompanying relationships were your identity; they gave your life meaning and defined how you lived. Now you are wondering, Where do I belong with no tangible history to back me up and nothing left to hold on to?
When the props are knocked out form under us, the prospect of regrouping can seem terrifying. Our eyes open to the fact that life is not as we once thought and yet we must live it out. “I never expected life to be so messy,” says Dr. Linda Snyderman, surgeon and medical correspondent for ABC News. (Footnote 33)
Is it any wonder we long for rescue? A knight on a white horse to whisk us out of this mishmash. Ten quick ways to wipe up a bleeding heart. A miracle cure. Unfortunately, only two people were ever rescued out of this life—Elijah and Enoch. They escaped death. But Cathy Hainer didn’t, despite her will to live. Her life, like ours, was full of plans and expectations. At thirty-six, she was a travel and feature reporter for USA Today. She expected to marry her fiancé, have his children, and grow old with him. But that was before cancer messed up her plans.
For two years, this gifted journalist chronicled for the nation’s largest newspaper her battle with the same disease that took her mother’s life. As I followed Cathy’s story, I marveled at her fierce determination to live and her resolve to face the inevitable. Her words spoke with candor about every woman’s fear. In her final installment, written before she died in December of 1999 of stage IV metastatic breast cancer, Cathy spoke of being imprisoned in her own body as she gradually lost her ability to do things. She described death as heartburn and revealed her conflict over deciding against more chemotherapy, all the while wondering how much effort a dying woman should make to rejoin life—does she buy a new nightgown, floss teeth, pay bills, renew her driver’s license?
I have to accept the fact that after months of outwitting death, it is now undeniably in my life. … No magic wizard at the end of my journey, no heart or lungs or magic balloon to give me a ride back to Kansas [as in the Wizard of Oz],” Cathy writes. “I have moments when the fear makes me sit up in bed at night and weep like a three-year-old. I’ve become afraid of the long, lonely nights. Yet at other times, I feel at peace, knowing I’m in the right place, secure in my beliefs about an afterlife.” (Footnote 34)
In the end, with the props knocked out form under her, Cathy Hainer seized what matters. She exchanged her frilly lingerie for the cotton comfort of hospital gowns. She gave up the head scarves that once covered her baldness and vanity. She let go of her long-range plans and treasured instead the lucid moments when she could visit pain free with friends and family before the drugs knocked her out. When the final curtain fell, she bravely took her bow. There was no Cinderella rescue or rewriting of her life’s script. In the end, Cathy Hainer found security and resolution in her faith.
Both her fight to live and her struggle to die show us how loss strips us of nonessentials and points the way to our need for God who is our only deliverer. (Footnote 35)
PRAYER PAUSE: Lord, help me die to the false expectation that my security depends on perfect health and a perfect life. Teach me that I need resolve more than rescue. Wherever life takes me and for however long I’m here, I want to trust in You alone.
If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d be millionaires. —
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