This blog was inspired by a friend of mine who gave me permission to write about a picture she posted on Instagram from the window of her room while receiving chemotherapy treatment a few months ago. The image of her IV pump against the backdrop of the mountains in the distance paired with her caption, “Enjoying the view today!”, jarred something loose in my soul.
The picture itself wasn’t necessarily what was deeply moving to me. It was the fact that this image was incredibly consistent with who I know her to be; a woman of grace and courage regardless of her circumstance. Even while navigating her own challenges, she created margin to reach out and encourage us throughout our journey. In my mind, she is characterized by a dignified courage that is nothing short of inspiring. To know people like Chelsea is a divine grace.
I think this image took up residence deep in the recesses of my soul because it perfectly captures the intersection of faith and hope in the face of adversity.
During both my interviews with local news I was asked, “how do I keep going?” It’s a common question as if what I have to say next is the “secret sauce” that will unlock the key to understanding suffering. I don’t blame people looking for meaning, answers and/or a purpose in difficult times because we all want to figure out how to walk through those times faster and with greater ease, but I’m beginning to learn that there is no true fast track to navigating those seasons. To boil it all down to faith and hope seems trite and ignorant to real suffering. I think that is what makes the image so powerful to me because it answers the question artistically which is the heart’s way of hearing truth.
I think you can see this picture three ways. The first is to focus on the IV pump; to look at the situation and allow the situation to be the focus. Perhaps any joy and beauty in life has been sucked out in exchange for the incessant beeping of a kinked IV line alarm going off, again. The second is to simply see the picturesque mountains and the sky in the background and completely ignore the IV pump in the frame all together as if thinking enough good thoughts will circumvent the situation. This is to downplay the fact that life can, for lack of a better word, suck in seasons. The truth is chemo sucks. Cancer sucks. And life without a stomach can suck. No amount of good thoughts can take away the prick of an IV starting or the feeling of helplessness watching a loved one undergo radiation. Hope and faith is not a way to avoid tears or sorrow, that would be fantasy. I think this is why I was drawn to this picture, because to have both hope and faith in the midst of adversity is to hold both views firmly in sight. Faith and hope gives us an honest look at the challenges that we face in this current moment and gives us the courage to step forward as we keep adversity in the context of a broader story. It does not erase the weight of suffering or the scope of adversity as if simply focusing on the mountains will make everything go away. True faith and hope holds both firmly in it’s sight; to give perspective and context to what we face currently and the ability to look beyond what we face to see something as normal as blue skies and mountains we drive past everyday in a new light. I believe it causes us to pause for a quick moment and reorient our souls towards something beautiful in the midst of challenges.
As I step into 2016, I want to take encouragement from true hope and faith which holds both views in sight. So in the words of my friend, Chelsea, take a moment, regardless of the circumstance, to pause, to take a breath, to notice something beautifully mundane and “enjoy the view today!”