“I’ll Hold It With You”
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.
15 New Books I’m Looking Forward to This Spring
Annnnnnnd we're back! The first book list of 2023 is here and, well, sorry not sorry for including 15 this time. I promise I trimmed it down. (I began with 55 bookmarked titles so truly, this is not too shabby.) As always, I'll share more book recommendations, along...
The Night Is Deep but Light Runs Deeper
I hit play and suddenly the familiar voices of characters I’ve come to love are speaking, shouting, whispering in my ears. The story rises and falls. With each turn, at every “there’s no way out” moment, my heartbeat quickens, my eyes widen, and I wonder what will...
You Are Not a Trash Can
My phone rang with a FaceTime notification and within seconds, I was staring at the faces of two dear friends. One woman had just hung up from an unexpected phone call that provided clarity and also included quite a few careless words. She processed, we listened, and...
13 New Books I’m Looking Forward to This Fall
Here we go! The final book list of the year. As always, I bookmarked and read early copies of way more titles than will fit on this list. (Oops?) I've narrowed it down from 43 books to 13 and over the coming months, I'll share other releases in my Thursday Things...
Don’t Forget to Remember
Want to listen to this article? Click here to play wherever you stream podcasts. For many years now, I’ve asked myself the same nine questions as one year turns into the next. You've likely seen a similar “end of the year questions” list, and I can’t help but laugh at...
Get Your Hopes Up
I’ve been in a fight for over a decade. Sometimes I wonder if I’m fighting with Hope, wrestling in the desert through the dark of night, begging for a blessing. But this long-standing fight, this particular back and forth of daily cries and deep sighs and tears...
When It’s Been a Lot for What Feels Like a Long Time
It’s funny the things that can immediately bring tears to your eyes. On an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, I opened my inbox and gasped. Inside, an email invited me to congratulate my grandma on a milestone number of years in her listed profession: pastor’s wife. Just...
13 New Books I’m Looking Forward to This Summer
I've narrowed the second 2022 list of books down from 37 to 13 (you're welcome! ha!) and, as always, was intrigued by the theme that emerged. As you read the titles and descriptions, keep this in mind and see if you see it too: peace + difficult but important topics +...
You Have a Story to Tell
Want to listen to this story? Click here to play wherever you stream podcasts. There’s a game I like to play, and it never fails to catch people by surprise. Here’s how it works: I invite someone to grab coffee and once we’ve found a comfortable seat, our hands...
What if We Chose to Be for One Another?
Shelves and screws and seemingly random pieces of what would eventually become a wooden cabinet covered the living room floor. It was somewhere around step thirty-one that I knew without a doubt: This was a two-person job. Four hands were needed to ensure the boards...