Monday, April 19, 2010

Faith's Journey to Hope, Part 1: Unwrapping Hope

“Good morning there sweetie,
Would you join me this morning for a cup of virtual tea?
We can just sit and enjoy each other as we wait for your results.
I would like to hear all about your life, family and what it is like to live in Canada.
I will share my life with you.
We can share all the blessings God has given us.
If at any time we need them, there is is a box of tissues beside us. We can use them for tears of fear or laughter.
Near the tissues is a Bible, ready to lead us to any of God's words as He directs.
There is my hand, ready to hold and my arms are ready to hug.
because I care.
Joy I am there today and I care my sister. HUGS!”

I had awoken that morning filled with fear. A series of medical tests had been completed and this was the day the phone should ring and results be shared. The possibility for unwelcomed news had birthed panic, instead of the peace I longed to claim. Anxious. Afraid. Alone.

A notifier on my computer indicated I had mail. The message above greeted me. Tears began to flow.

I first 'met' Diane through a Proverbs 31 Speaker's blog. She and I often left comments on the same site. We shared some mutual friends. I did not know her, but I always enjoyed reading her remarks. They were real...sincere...and frequently made me smile. She had a wonderful sense of humour, and my life had been lacking genuine laughter.

In the summer of 2008 I actually remember seeing her while attending the "She Speaks" conference in North Carolina. With almost 600 women in attendance, something...Someone...drew me to take notice. I heard life had recently been unkind and recognized a soul's emptiness through her eyes. I had often seen that same reflection in my mirror. Lack of courage kept me cocooned and I did not meet her, but her face was sketched on my heart.

Then, in January of 2009, we both embarked on a journey together to read through the Bible in a year. Daily I would leave comments on our facilitator, Wendy Pope's blog, and I'd always check to see if Diane had shared her response to that days reading. She many times would pen my thoughts and I looked forward with anticipation to find her heart revealed. Her authenticity and vulnerability drew me into her life and I longed to know her in a deeper way, but my insecurities kept me from reaching out on a more personal level. I was so afraid of rejection.

I began to pray for her...and I also continued praying for a kindred spirit friend...not knowing that God would intersect those two prayers and knit together one answer.

In March of that same year my world was turned upside down with my dad's unexpected nine-month hospital stay. My faith was tested. I was walking a road of tremendous heartache. Days I felt like I was suffocating in uncertainty and pain. I was questioning God and longing to see His hand restore healing. At times when I thought I couldn't endure another moment, a message would appear on my computer.

“Praying for you Joy,

“Have no regrets, no matter how hard, my friend. God has his hand in the center of your back and he will give you all the strength you need, and then just a bit more.
I am praying and thinking about you,

“You have been in my prayers and in my heart. Standing with you my sister”

I'm ashamed to say I rarely responded to her kind notes at first. I was just so exhausted. So weary. I appreciated her kindness, but blanketed in despair, I felt I had nothing to give, yet she didn't go away. As I look back over all her messages now, almost daily she was pouring into my life. She was a constant amidst the turmoil and the tears. For some unknown reason, she had taken up a burden that was not her own and was holding me up, encouraging me and showering me in love.

Having had friends walk away in my life recently, fear bound me. I couldn't stand the ache of rejection. Not now. My heart couldn't take loving and losing. I was cautious. I longed to respond, but I just couldn't find the strength to trust.

She continued to reach out. She included me in so much of her life. Unable to attend the "She Speaks" conference last summer due to my dad's extended hospitalization, she even took me with her via camera and video. I felt like I was there as I received pictures of my friends and 'talked' across the miles via the Internet. I couldn't fathom such kindness. No-one had ever given me so much.

Return now to a day in January earlier this year, and an invitation for virtual tea. She remembered. She cared. My heart was overwhelmed. Barriers of protection fell. The safe distance I had wanted to maintain disappeared. I was going to risk opening my heart and life.

Late night chats. Skype. Prayers. Tears. E-mails. Even comfortable, contented silence. Slowly I started to realize I had found a safe place. I began to see the blessings in brokenness and the delight found through a path of despair.

One night an honest, innocent statement was shared and all my defenses fell. The strength to resist collapsed. Like a retaining wall destroyed because of one weak crack, a flood of emotion poured forth and "Pandora's Box" was opened. My words were met with understanding. No judgement. No wrongs. No rights. Complete acceptance. As she received my heart without question, held it gently, cried with me, prayed and encouraged, I realized the most amazing gift had been placed in my hands.

I began unwrapping Hope.

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Lori said...

A friendship made in heaven by your Father, Himself! I do believe God looked down and decided to pick two of the most beautiful ladies in the whole-wide world, and do what He does best: love on them! I’ve so missed your posts, sweet Joy, but, this story made it all worth the wait! I love the way you captivate me through your writing! You draw me right in and I feel like I’m sitting there with you! Smile! Look at that yummy cupcake!

Hugs, Lori

PS Part 1 ~ Hmm, that means there’s a Part 2 coming! smile

On Purpose said...

Welcome home my friend! I am SO looking forward to Part 2 of this...'Hope received' :)

Oh and to see a sweet and precious blog friends name above mine here...Lori...has interceding in ways that only prayer can...I am thankful that this blog world is invaded by God!

Hugs my friend!

Sharon Sloan - Joy In The Truth said...

Love this! Can't wait to read part 2 and 3 and 4........... :)

~Grace and Peace said...

Sharing your tears of joy and gratitude. What a blessing to have a friend straight from our Father. That is a true divine connection. Just like the others, I am awaiting the other parts as I have missed reading your daily posts.

I trust that your Daddy is doing well. I also just remembered you're on the home stretch before high school graduation!


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Prayers for you this morning as you continue to unpack your heart!


Marilyn in Mississippi said...

Ohhhh Miss have just whetted my apetite for more!! Hurry and give us parts 2,3,4,5,6,.........
Loved reading how God is meeting your needs!

Love ya, Mississippi

deb said...

It is profound, how trust can make us see.
This was beautiful.