Offering it Up
There’s a thing I’ve heard people say, “Offer it up.”
Several years ago, I became keenly aware of others saying this phrase often.
Sometimes, I’ll be honest, It drove me nuts—perhaps I just didn’t understand.
Until I learned more about redemptive suffering and how God uses EVERYTHING, even our sorrows, pain, and grief, for the will and Good of others. This is LOVE.
I can’t pretend I always understand the most profound theological things. Though I try—by reading a lot and taking graduate classes to deepen my understanding. Offering our sufferings for others Is an immeasurable witness to allow our pain to not be wasted by entering into the pain suffered by another. We are One Body in Christ. It is an offering—an offering of love.
The words of Susan Husband from @solesearchingmamma are fitting for this moment as we pray for a mutual friend I mention later in this post.
“When we pause in the middle of our day, in the midst of our own circumstances, and place ourselves in the presence of God for the good of another, that is LOVE,” Susan’s heartfelt words affirm the message in this whole reflection.
In these months of being in and out of the hospital patiently (and sometimes not) seated in crowded waiting areas, I’ve observed many people carrying tremendously heavy crosses.
I’m no stranger to hospital/medical waiting areas myself. I could probably write a book about the hours, days, months I’ve accumulated in hospitals. I told Jon with the frequency over the years of visiting hospitals and their bathrooms (where I would quietly shed a few tears), I could write a book entitled: “Tales from the Hospital Bathrooms.”
Can you imagine that? I promise no pictures, don’t worry.
I’ve seen countless examples of moms fighting back the tears while reassuring themselves all would be okay while waiting in audiology, ENT, ER, MRI, and surgical waiting rooms and holding areas.
More recently, I’ve watched strong people who are sick with worry and sick with illness as they file in and out of the waiting areas of the oncology department and/or Radiation treatment doors.
There is so much pain in the waiting.
In December, I waited as Jon had a follow-up MRI.
I can’t remember if I was immersed in writing in my journal or fervently praying as I heard the commotion and a voice cried out behind me.
To offer privacy, I didn’t turn around immediately. But what I heard disturbed me.
After a few minutes, I turned to find a man in a wheelchair crying out for help. The caregiver or family member leaned in and tried to console this elderly man.
The man wept quietly, yet just enough for all to hear.
And then he cried out with a desperate plea, “please make the pain go away. The pain is so bad.”
I had a visceral reaction to his wails and words that filled the otherwise quiet waiting room.
Tears filled my eyes, and I found myself drawing a slow, deliberate breath to reduce my own reaction to his pain. As I slowly exhaled, I prayed for the pain that afflicted him to stop.
Something about his words touched my heart and the painful places tucked so deep in the recesses of my soul.
I think of how each person in that waiting room carried pain or some sort of suffering themselves or for someone they love.
I think of how we are all suffering, or carrying some sort of injury, whether we acknowledge it or not.
I am no stranger to carrying pain—physical and otherwise.
On Ash Wednesday, I hurt my ankle again. I just twisted it as I was walking with my favorite guy. Yes, just walking. Sigh. Just walking.
Maybe you remember, in my Verso L’Alto reflection, I said I needed to wear hiking boots to protect my ankles which sometimes give out in times of stress. (Someday, I’ll share the irony of having broad shoulders yet weak ankles—there may be a lesson in that)
Well…enough said. I didn’t have hiking boots. I wasn’t even hiking-just walking…my feet didn’t get the memo to do their job on that cold night.
Turns out I didn’t break it, and while I have several tears-some are old, some new from this little painful spill. For now, surgery will have to wait.
And fast forward to Jon’s MRI in March, my back began to act up—the pain was so bad, I could barely walk. I just wanted the pain to go away, so I could get through our day of appointments.
I could handle anything without the pain.
Over time and with rest, the back pain subsided. Same with the ankle. It’s hard to believe it has been over 8 weeks since that ankle injury. There was an excruciating amount of pain in those weeks.
After 8+ weeks, I’m almost pain-free.
I’ve managed a few short walks as I’ve allowed the healing process to be slow and deliberate. I’ve really missed my walks—they are my escape. I wish I had one today.
After a long day, perhaps, a long week or two, nothing in particular and everything altogether, I hopped in my car and made my way to adoration.
I come to church for comfort, to sort out worries, and to discern words laid on my heart meant to be woven together to perhaps share.
With eyes closed and my head bowed, I prepared my heart to have a gentle conversation with God. The first and only words that came to my mind were: “make the pain stop.”
I paused and wondered from where those words came.
Perhaps it was an invitation from God to let me feel some things that had been causing some pain. (Disclaimer—please know while the content here is heavy, know I am taking good care of myself in all ways. I am sharing this tender-hearted reflection with a sound mind and an amazing support system.)
I thought maybe with the “make the pain stop,” God was telling me it was time to share a story about a waiting room moment I wrote a few months ago. I had not published until now when that story managed to weave itself through this post.
Then I thought about the pain I have carried for quite some time. It was not just my ankle re-injury but also the reality of our journey and the painful wounds I have had tucked away for many months and years while attending to the needs of so many I love.
Being an advocate, caregiver, giver to all, giver of all, IS NO easy task.
My mind quickly left the “all about me moment.” I offered up all of my pain and suffering and wounds for others who are suffering significantly too.
I thought about the pain a beloved friend is enduring as her sweet baby boy is fighting for his little life in the last 48 hours after a few risky but necessary medical procedures.
I thought about the friend who lives with the piercing pain since losing her dad or the one who continues to navigate life without her beloved husband of so many years.
I thought about the one who has lost their job and remains hopeful work will come as a mountain of bills begins to form, and finances begin to crumble.
I thought of the loved one who continues to reconcile a deeply painful story while redeeming wounded relationships because of the details of that story.
I thought about the state of the world, the division, the broken relationships, the voices being silenced, the voices rising up begging to be heard, and a world crying out in writhing pain.
Please, God, Make the pain stop.
The crosses we all are carrying are just so heavy.
I come to adoration to lay down my crosses. I cannot carry them alone.
I come to pray and then pray some more.
I come to adoration to meet Jesus at the altar, where I bring the pain and suffering of my own and of others to Him.
To make the pain stop.
I come to offer it up.
I don’t know the details of the particular pain—physical, emotional, mental— you carry for yourself or as you hold space for the worry of a loved one.
I do know Jesus wants to meet you in the pain, grief, and difficulty you carry.
Jesus answers our prayers. In fact, Jesus tells us in Scripture to bring our requests to Him, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”-John 15:7
He wants to help, to offer grace and mercy.
And He answers our prayers. At times those answers may not align with the desires of our heart, but they will be answered in the way He knows is best for us and the good of our souls. All Glory to Him.
As I sat in adoration tonight, I felt Jesus very close. Peace washed over me like the rain pouring buckets I hear on the roof and see teeming through the window. Tears begin to swell in my eyes at the nearness of God.
My mind wanders to the song playing as I shut off my car in the parking lot before heading into church.
It is the same song that has been playing in my head all day.
Truth be told, this song has been playing repeat literally daily for a few years now as it’s the alarm sound I wake to each morning.
“I have a home, eternal home
But for now, I walk this broken world
You walked it first. You know our pain.
But You show hope can rise again up from the grave…”
Abide in Me by Matt Maher, has been stirring me from my slumber for several years now.
It’s not until today that I am struck by the beauty of that message. For years now, I start my day unintentionally, drilling into my head a reminder to keep God close and abide in him.
And the words, “You walked it first, You know our pain.”
He knows our pain.
The greatest takeaway from this past lenten season is that he came to us as a human. By living the human experience suffering and all, He KNOWS our pain.
When Jesus uttered, “It is finished,” then bowed His head, The Son of God fulfilled a Father’s promise.
We must ABIDE in Him. We must keep Jesus close even in, especially in our suffering.
Is there really any other way to stop the pain?
Benediction concludes this sacred time in front of Our Lord. I am filled with peace by the words, the hymns, the Psalms, the Divine Praises, the Antiphon: “Our Eyes are fixed intently on the Lord, waiting for his merciful help.”
Psalm 123: “To you I have lifted up my eyes you who dwell in the heavens..”
The Litany of the Divine Praise brings this powerful experience to an End.
As the church bells strike the 6 o’clock hour, the rain begins to pour from the sky onto the roof, and Benediction starts to pour into our hearts.
My plan was to leave before Benediction to get home to dinner and avoid the rain. However, I felt God telling me, “hang in a little bit longer, my child.”
There were about 10-12 of us in the church overall. A few were stopped at the door as I made my way to the exit. I thought they were crowding by the door while waiting for the spring showers to stop.
I saw a bright light capture there attention & they were all looking up with “Eyes are fixed intently on the Lord, waiting for his merciful help.”
Turns out the most beautiful message of hope waited outside the door.
I’m not sure what my church buddies thought when they made it to the threshold of the door and saw this brilliant gift offering a promise of hope.
But, I was undone that a Faithful Father who keeps his promises delivered a message of hope clear across the sky.
I stopped to take a picture (Of course, I did).
Tears flow as I started the ignition, and the song once again played loudly in my car:
“Abide with me, abide with me
Don’t let me fall, and don’t let go
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close, God abide with me
There in the night, Gethsemane
Before the cross, before the nails
Overwhelmed, alone You prayed
You met us in our suffering and bore our shame.”
If a rainbow isn’t the sign of peace and hope, I don’t know what is. It’s a beautiful reminder, the pain will stop even if for a moment.
That rainbow followed me home.
“Don’t let me fall, don’t let go.
Ever close, God abide with me.”
That message followed me all the way home, never leaving my side.
I could not stop weeping at the peace that washed over me as if I was cleansed of my worries standing at the font.
I called home to tell my kids to look for the rainbow. They laughed because they were unable to see it—until I pulled into our driveway.
There it was, greeting us through the trees.
It was there as plain as day, helping in some small way, offering hope, bringing me much-needed joy, and making the pain stop.
I think back to the man in the waiting room wailing in pain. His pain stopped when someone came to help. His suffering was tended to. I am not sure how long his pain stopped, but I know he found peace at that moment.
I would like to think I joined his suffering by praying for his pain. As someone who has been met with suffering, I can assure you, your prayers matter.
And speaking of waiting rooms, I think we have taken up residence in a “waiting rooms,” lately. Doing so is not for the faint of heart (hence the constant need for adoration, church, and prayers).
We are in a pattern of waiting since we have been walking this brain cancer journey—one day at a time has been our motto (and our prayer) for months now.
The longer we walk it, the more hope we have.
At times, the longer we walk it, the more precarious it feels, and the more “on borrowed time” this may seem.
Only God knows, and we trust His plan. He knows best.
It is a very delicate balance of living in the moment, knowing our circumstances, and not wanting to be the elephant in the room.
Living with cancer and supporting someone living with/battling cancer is a truly unique story to every individual who encounters it. The details of our story may be similar in ways, but in truth, we have come to learn each situation is as unique as the rainbow that met me outside the door of the church.
So while we have nothing specific to report, Jon continues to feel good each day, but the fight is not over yet. We are holding space waiting—waiting for each passing day to keep us going.
We are grateful for the months of support with food deliveries, prepared meals, and continued GoFund Me Donations and Venmo & Checks, Gift Card Donations, and treats and prayers. We are always grateful for blessings. And most of all, we are thankful for the outpouring of love.
I will say it again and again; Jon and I have been so incredibly blessed by your love and are honored to have you in our lives. What an incredible life we have been fortunate to live.
Thank you for praying for and carrying our cross with us.
I will be offering up our suffering for the crosses and pain you may carry too.
“To advocate for a friend in need, to raise them up and press into the heart of Christ, into his wounds, into His Mercy, is to be a Simon of Cyrene. It is to carry the cross, if only for a moment.”-Susan Husband, @solesearchingmamma