For Goodness Sake

On my way to rejoice with friends celebrating new life, my phone rang like a death bell tolling.

I pulled off the road to hear the nurse say, “Your biopsy results indicate you have breast cancer.” My body responded to the news involuntarily, shaking uncontrollably, as if it anticipated what was to come before my mind could process the words.

I’d experienced devastating Christmases before, losing my precious grandma and cousin to a December car accident that dug two graves and turned winter wonder into horror. This was similar. Darkness threatened to devour any flicker of light that shined.

I hated that a new year was around the corner with so many others setting goals and hopes high, while my only goal was to get out of the next year alive.

But three years later, here I am, with my oncologist saying, “We can’t know what’s going on on a cellular level in your body, but the treatments and medication seem to be working, so I’ll see you again in 6 months.”

Living 6 months at a time has become normal. Dependency on popping pills has become normal. An extra 30 pounds gifted by medication and surgical menopause has become normal. A loss of endurance and athletic mobility and gain of physical limitations and an achy body have become normal. Emergency Mayo appointments, like when my massage therapist found a lump in my neck, have become normal. And, even though thankfully it was nothing, we have adjusted to a life lived on high alert.

What my physical eyes could not see back on December 22, 2020, by God’s gifts of faith and grace, my spiritual eyes could. I saw the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living – and dying. That goodness didn’t cause me to have a celebration untouched by the excruciating pain of reality. Instead, it caused a rock solid, unshakeable security in the sacrificial love of Jesus that held me as tight as he knew I needed to be held. And that is goodness. If you’ve never felt it, you need to. If you’ve never had anything but him to hold onto, you need to see that he is enough.

His best gifts to me have been the ones that made me nearly starve so I could experience the fullness of satiation that comes only by his sweet goodness. They have been the ones that corrected my spiritual vision in a way the best trained optometrist never could. They helped me see that flicker of light the darkness threatened to devour but couldn’t, explode in bright hope, like multitudes of angels in the sky shouting, “God is great! And his greatness gives peace to women like you whom he has rescued because you make him happy!”

If you can only see with your physical eyes this Christmas season, friends, there is so much more to behold. I tell you in love, you aren’t really seeing. And in all you’re savoring this season, what are you really tasting?

Because the dearest friends marked this hard day for me by delivering this reminder, I will share it with you too:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him.”
Psalm 34:8