When I finished my 8th chemo treatment, I was more than ready to go home. Side effects would soon be exerting their full power upon my already frail body, but I was trying to keep my focus on the holiday season that was upon us digging deep for excitement. Wes even made me smile as we were walking towards the exit as he started singing the 12 days of Christmas to me.
As we passed by the patient rooms, a woman caught my eye.
She was elderly. Petite in size, a definitive frown across her face, and eyes filled with tears. She was lying on her back, receiving chemo as we were walking away. My heart was overwhelmed with sadness. But honestly, I was just ready to leave.
“Keep singing to me Wes,” I thought to myself. “I can’t bear any more sadness. I’m exhausted.”
But I couldn’t keep walking. I knew I needed to turn around.
“Hey, just one second babe,” I interrupted his song by squeezing his hand and let go as I turned around and started walking in her direction.
I moved towards her room and knocked gently upon the open door.
“Hi, my name is Nicole,” I said to the woman as tears wet her cheek when she turned towards me. “Would you mind if I came in?”
She just started crying harder.
Did I upset her? Should I have said anything at all? I should have just kept walking.
But then something happened that I didn’t expect. She reached her arms up in my direction motioning me to come in.
Very quickly I learned that she did not speak English. I also learned that she didn’t need to for us to connect. I put my hands together and nodded as if to ask her if I could pray with her. She nodded and sniffled as I sat on her bed hand-in-hand. We hugged as tears now fell from both of our eyes. Her hands squeezed tightly with a small smile for goodbye and I mouthed the words “God bless you.” And with only a few minutes delay, I took Wes’ hand and we left the hospital.
One of the things that I am reminded of from that day during this holiday season is: I almost missed that moment.
I had many excuses and reasons not to stop (and I almost didn’t stop), but what I learned through my first 7 chemo treatments is that moments are really precious, and love is the most beautiful gift to give. It was only a couple of minutes of my time, but it impacted both of us greatly. When we give hope, it oftentimes seems to give back to us as well.
Fast forward a few days and as expected, I was plagued with illness. I became very sick and was admitted into the ER just days before the holiday. It was during this visit that I filled out a Power of Attorney and Living Will followed by planning my funeral with Wes. That holiday season did not look as though I would even be part of it.
Friends, family, nurses, and strangers showed up with prayers, words of encouragement, and filled our hearts with hope when we needed it the most. I even had a good friend send balloons to my hospital room during that stay not even knowing if I would make it out alive.
I know that every person that reached out had a long list of reasons why not to say/do something, but they did. It has impacted Wes’ and my lives in so many ways and we never want to stop paying forward the love and hope that we have received in the midst of our toughest times.
Another thing I am reminded of during this holiday season is: I don’t want to miss the glimmers of hope, kindness, and love that grace my life even in difficult circumstances.
This time of year can be so wonderful and at the same time so difficult. It can be sparkling with beautiful brilliance or met with deep grief, sorrow, and pain. We are told by social media, songs, countless commercials, and movies what the holidays “should” look like, yet we are left gazing at our own circumstances –playing the comparison game of if we are having a “good” holiday season or not.
We are susceptible of missing the reason for the season altogether if we lose sight of what this season is all about.
Faith, hope, and love.
Hope has really captured my heart this year. I love the way that Webster’s Dictionary 1828 defines hope:
A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.
Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it.
Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.
Hope is far more than a plea or aspiration. It’s a light that we are able to fix our gaze upon in every season we walk through. Hope brings comfort, joy, and peace in even the most trying of times.
Faith, hope, and love are powerful things that we can use to encourage and bring light to each other. I have witnessed firsthand that not even language barriers can obstruct their might! I’m reminded that the smallest act of kindness, smile, or word of encouragement can make all the difference in this life and can bring us much hope in the holiday season.
I want to celebrate with you right now if you are reading this in a beautiful season of life. The joy, the jubilance, the excitement that sparkles in your eyes as you rejoice.
I would love if I could hug you right now if you are reading this with tears in your eyes. The loss, the battle, the hurt, the loneliness you face day after day. Where the holidays feel like salt in an open wound, I want to remind you that you aren’t alone.
Wherever you are today, I am praying that hope will be ever-present in your life during the holidays. That you know that you are seen and loved by Jesus Christ as He came from heaven to earth to make a way for us, where there will one day be no pain or suffering (Rev. 21:4). That your hope is not left to your circumstances but in the steady love of The Lord. May your heart be overflowing and comforted by God as you turn your gaze up to heaven:
To love. To comfort. To peace. To hope.
There is hope for the holiday season. Whether we are the ones sharing it, others are coming alongside us in love, or we ultimately lift our gaze to heaven, let’s not miss it this year.
I want to close with this prayer from Scripture that I am praying over you and me today:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13
God bless you!
Are you in need of hope for the holidays? Or do you have a story to share about spreading hope/receiving it? I would love nothing more than to hear your story and experiences Please let me know how I can pray for and encourage you today!