I was about to walk into a birthday party when my phone buzzed. After several months of waiting for appointments and tests, the results were finally here and the diagnosis was clear: cancer.
Again. Actually, again again.
Cancer keeps weaving its way back into our family story, climbing into another chapter, leaving its fingerprints year after year.
Just half an hour earlier, I twirled in my bright fuchsia dress, ready to celebrate.
I read the message again as I contemplated driving home. How can I walk into the party and not give it away? I wondered as I stared at my own reflection in the rearview mirror, eyes glassy and cheeks tearstained. Most of my closest friends were already inside, the ones who prayed for answers all year long, the very people I would have immediately called after reading the text—if they hadn’t been gathered for cake and karaoke.
I’ll tell them tomorrow, I decided, blinking furiously, determined to show up and not steal the moment. As long as one other person knows, as long as I’m not holding this on my own, then I can carry it with a smile for the next two hours. But two texts and three unanswered FaceTime calls later, my plan crumbled. Out of state friends were out at dinner or away from their phones. I gave myself a minute, reapplied lipstick, took a deep breath, and said, “Well Jesus, it’s You and me. Will You carry this with me? Help me bring joy to the room and then get me home.”
Half an hour later, a ruffled fuchsia dress danced around the room. But before that, before the chocolate cake or the group selfie or the mediocre but so very earnest karaoke, Jesus showed up to greet me at the door.
Oh, He looked like my friend Janie. His voice sounded like her whispered question, “Weren’t you supposed to find out today?” His arms wrapped tightly around and replied “I’ll hold it with you” when I quietly replied “Yes, dad has cancer. But tonight is for celebrating. I’ll tell everyone tomorrow.”
We danced. We laughed. We sang.
The joy was real. The sadness was, too. And for a few hours, I spun around and smiled wide, feeling the tension of the two while knowing one thing for sure: Jesus was in the room.
Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time and a season for everything. I’ve often thought of verses 2-8 as stand-alone opposites—a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance—but sometimes we find ourselves in a season that seems to hold everything.
We blink back tears while twirling, carry a newborn while standing at a gravesite, and celebrate another year of life while wondering how much time remains. We discover grief and gratitude often go together and hope and heartache tend to hold hands. We sit in the tension of the in between . . . and we find that Jesus is there, too. There in the season of A Lot, listening to every parking lot prayer. He joins us in the middle of the unknown, staying with us as we cry in the car, greeting us at the door, spinning us around on the living room floor, drawing us close and whispering “I’ll hold it with you.”
Even the most overwhelming and seemingly impossible of circumstances is no match for the One who holds it all and says “this isn’t too much for Me.”
This season is stretching on. The path forward isn’t clear and we don’t know what’s next. But I’m resting in this as I reach for a bright dress, choosing to dance through the wait:
For everything there is a season, and the unchanging God will be with us in every one. Our circumstances don’t change His character and although our Right Now might be a lot, His hands are not too full.
We have a God who doesn’t tease, who sees the end from the beginning and has promised to bring us all the way Home. No matter what tomorrow brings, He will carry us through.
For more encouragement in the messy middle, pick up a copy of Kaitlyn’s book. Even If Not will help you shift from the suspicion that God isn’t kind or present to the truth found in Scripture: on every single page of the story, He is with us and working all things for good. In daylight and darkness, may we choose hope for tomorrow when today feels like a question mark. The Author can be trusted.