A few weeks ago I posted a blog about a terrible Monday that I had. In that post, I mentioned that someone near and dear to me was starting radiation treatments that week. Well it’s been more than a week now and that person is still going five days a week for next six weeks. If you know anything about radiation then you know it is not the most enjoyable process, but there are even more layers to this story. This person has been here before. She got diagnosed with cancer the first time when she was fourteen years old. The first time around required more than radiation, there was chemotherapy and surgeries and things that have left her with scars on her body and heart from that experience. Since then, she has lived the last forty-three years of her life cancer free but in the past few months, she found herself back to a place that she never wanted to return to.
I’m sure that you can imagine how awful it must feel for her to be back in that place, to be back on that table with the machines and the doctors and to lie there exposed. Well, this woman is one of the strongest, resilient and joyful people I know and her response to all of this has confirmed that.
She sent out a message last week telling us all how much she hated being exposed; the scars from her previous battle with cancer laid bare for all to see. Nothing to hide behind or to hide under, just raw exposure. Reading this message I couldn’t even begin to understand how she felt but then she said something incredible; she said that in this season of her life, she realized that she has to be exposed to receive healing. She knows that these parts of her need to be exposed because that is the only way that her healing is going to happen.
I was and always will be impressed by this woman and I am pretty sure that the gravity of her words have not settled into a deep enough place in my soul yet as I am still wrestling with this very thing. I don’t ever want to be exposed. I want my healing to come without bringing up wounds from the past or without breaking down all of the layers and walls that I have surrounded myself with. I want to know that if I make it through one really hard thing or this one really hard season then maybe another one won’t ever come. I want beauty from ashes without anything actually burning down.
In this same week I read an article by Kristin Scharkey, the editor for Desert Magazine. In this article, she talked about her experience moving to the desert in Palm Springs and she said one of the first things she learned was that if there are clouds in the sky, the sunset will be beautiful. She said that she began to enjoy cloudy days because at the end of them, she knew what was coming.
I am definitely not a sunset expert but if I had to guess, I would imagine the sunset that comes after a cloudy day has nuance and depth that sunny days don’t have because the colors from the sun on it’s way down have something to shine on. The sunset after a cloudy day means something more because you can see the power of the light to shine through something.
There is something settling about looking up and knowing this sun goes up and down every single day and that even at times when you can’t see it, when clouds move in and cover its beauty, the sun comes right back to say I will make even those clouds beautiful. Even the things that keep you from seeing me for a time will ultimately help you see me even more clearly.
Friends, life can get uncomfortable, mine certainly has. And so many times when I get uncomfortable I fight the very thing that will bring me healing. At times when I see clouds, I take it as a sign that maybe the sun has just forgotten about me and it was never that reliable to begin with. So if you’re anything like me, lets take some time to remind ourselves that exposure can be healing and clouds only mean that the sun is on its way to create something beautiful. If we want to know what it looks like to exchange beauty for ashes, then something might actually have to burn. We know that exposure and fires and cloudy days are all a part of life and at the end of that day, all we can do is trust the process and believe that something beautiful is coming.