The conversation went like this: 

Would you share your story about journeying through cancer? And would you share how you were able to find joy in the middle of your story? And how you’ve been able to find joy on this side of your story?

<gulp>

That’s a TALL order.

And YES—I was honored.

You know, over the last few years, cancer has invaded my life in a number of ways. And being asked to speak about “joy in the journey” can sound almost offensive to those who’ve suffered. 

Yet, because of the intimacy of Christ, I DO have stories of deep peace and even joyful moments in the middle of the hardest times of my life. Like when I was initially diagnosed with cancer and facing my very first scary surgery.

Anxiety was my only companion as I walked into the hospital for my pre-op requirements. I had spent a lot of time making phone calls and confirming all the information, hoping my nervousness would subside as I navigated the myriad of tests needed before the actual surgery day. 

I thought I’d covered all my bases, but the receptionist seemed to be a bit panicked. She kept repeating to me, “But you don’t have a purple folder.  We need a purple folder.  All of our patients have a purple folder.  You should have a purple folder.” 

On the inside I was screaming back to her, “Please don’t say the phrase PURPLE FOLDER one more time!”

We both took a minute to regroup and without much difficulty figured out I was trying to check into the wrong location. I needed to be across the street at the main hospital.

Even though it really was not that big of a deal, there was no holding back my tears. I felt vulnerable and alone, wishing I had brought a friend with me— someone to help shoulder the emotional weight of it all.

I had 3 different tests to complete for my pre-op.  With two down and one to go, I was headed for the dreaded blood test. I don’t do well with blood draws at all. It’s pretty much guaranteed it will take four attempts and a spinning room to get through it. I rounded the corner, looked up and saw a wonderful friend of mine. This friend is someone who I don’t necessarily speak to every week, but just seems to be there at all the right times in life. She is a “life-encourager” to me.

In the next few minutes I brought her up-to-date on all that I was facing. She expressed how much she cared and told me that she would be praying. 

You know, God has a way of showing up like this, just to let us know He’s there… that He understands.

Recently, I read these words from Ann Voskamp’s book Waymaker

Through every crashing wave, God is still writing an oceanic love story. We don’t need answers from God like we need attachment WITH God. And when the waves crash, again and again, we will fall into God, again and again.

He’s always here. And no detail escapes His notice.

And, as far as the blood work went, one try- no pain- and no spinning room. Now in my book… that’s a miracle!!

How about you? What’s one way God has shown up recently in your life when you’ve felt anxious or alone?