Lean In & Hold On

Despite the fullness in my stomach from a huge Christmas dinner, the aroma of buttered popcorn enticed me the second I opened the door to the theater. Deciding on drinks only, my family and I navigated the congested lobby in search of a place to wait for the movie we selected.

We arrived an hour early hoping to secure our favorite seats for an exhilarating 3D experience, so I searched for a place to sit until time for tickets to be collected.

To my surprise, I spotted a cushioned bench with just one occupant near the ticket receiving area. I smiled and sat down beside a woman with a walker – the kind my dad uses, with sturdy wheels and a built-in seat. Having already exchanged a friendly greeting outside as we sought to escape the penetrating cold, I leaned toward her and asked, “Have you had a great Christmas?”

She turned my way and said, “I believe this has been the best Christmas I have everhad.” I knew she meant it.
 “That’s awesome,” I said, noticing the covering on her head as she continued.

 “I’ve been really sick, but have been so blessed to have my sister living with me.”

 Leaning toward her again, I asked, “Chemo?”

 She nodded. “And radiation.” Sitting a bit taller, she proclaimed the completion of her tenth round of treatment.

 “I’m sorry you’ve had to endure so much,” I said. She nodded.

Then a boy about twelve years old approached, leaned over and wrapped his arms around the woman’s neck. He hugged her tight, rested his head on her
“My nephew. Such a good boy,” she said tilting her head toward him and patting his arms. My heart melted watching the warm exchange.

We introduced ourselves.

I sensed peace in Darlene as she openly shared her struggle. At first it was lung cancer, stage four, discovered when she couldn’t shake flu-like symptoms. Then, sometime after her treatments began, Darlene’s sister discovered her in the kitchen late one night, confused and saying things that made no sense. This time it was brain cancer.

I concluded her illness, not age, created the need for the walker. She was mature, but not elderly.

I listened, and marveled at the sweet spirit radiating from Darlene. Not an ounce of anger or bitterness. Not an ounce of self-pity. Not an ounce of fear. I sensed only wisdom, joy and contentment. And peace.

I leaned closer this time, shoulder to shoulder as if we were old friends, and said, “I’m sure you’ve had lots of people praying for you.” 

 “Oh, yes. The prayers of so many are the only reason I’ve been able to get through this. I am so blessed. God placed my sister in my house for a reason. To be there for me.”

I asked if she had a church family to surround her, but I knew before she answered.

Then I said, “May I ask where you go?”

Receiving her answer, I smiled. Not only do I know the location of her church, we have a mutual acquaintance who also attends. The idea of keeping up with Darlene’s progress filled my heart and settled well within my soul.

When the time came for Darlene to submit her movie ticket, I assured her my church and I would be praying for her. She thanked me, and switched her attention to the family surrounding her.

 As I watched Darlene part the crowd with her walker, I considered so many things.

 She blessed me by sharing her story, because her focus was not on her struggles but on her Savior. Peace. Confidence. Trust. Faith. She wins the fight no matter what the outcome because she knows where she is going. “It’s in God’s hands,” she said, “and it is His decision.”

 Complete surrender.

 Wow. I mean, WOW.

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7, NIV)

Maybe you are fighting for your life, or walking this road with a loved one. Maybe anger consumes you because your diagnosis feels unfair. Maybe you don’t understand why you’re not responding to treatments, unlike others. Maybe the opposite is true. Maybe you wonder if God even hears your pleas. Perhaps your struggle is with something completely different, but you desire the peace Darlene carries.

Whatever your situation, I encourage you to allow your weakest moments to be a showcase of God’s incredible strength. Lean into Him. Lean in and hold on.

As God’s strength emanated from Darlene that day, I witnessed the “peace that transcends all understanding.” No wonder I kept leaning toward her.

His very presence, through her, drew me there.

 

(UPDATE: Please pray for Darlene. I understand she entered the hospital with pneumonia earlier this week. Thank you.)
 
 
Rita Halter Thomas is a staff writer for Prophecy Simplified, providing HOLD ON Stories to encourage you to hold on to your faith. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of a college missions major.  She is also an award-winning writer, the founder of The Write Editor, http://thewriteeditor.com, and a former newspaper and magazine publisher with 23 years’ experience in print and digital media. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
 
  
 

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