Sitting in the hard

There are days when this is really hard.

Pretty much everyday there is at least one moment when this is really hard.

Cancer sucks. Incurable, chronic, stage IV, ultimately terminal cancer…it’s hardly fathomable sometimes, so hard to wrap our heads around. It steals my energy and my strength, my independence and my abilities. It’s an ugly, awful hard.

There are lots of messages in the world that tell us not to focus on the hard. Be grateful for what you have, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, keep moving, focus on the good things, look for the blessings, get over it, think positive thoughts. Some of the of these are useful reminders, good encouragement, wonderful tools that can help us. But sometimes they come with an unspoken message: don’t sit in the hard. Don’t look at it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t acknowledge it. Just move past it. We are sometimes told that if we stop and sit in the hard, we will never move forward. But there is a difference between pausing in the hard, and settling there.

I’m part of a Facebook group, where one woman recently shared about some hard she was experiencing. I shared that I don’t have any advice except to say that it’s okay to sit in the hard. Acknowledging the hard doesn’t devalue the good – it doesn’t mean you love your kids any less, or aren’t grateful for them. It doesn’t mean you love your spouse less or are ungrateful for their care. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your parents or your friends or your other people. It means this is hard. Some days focusing on the good helps and some days sitting in the hard helps. Both are important. Moving through the hard happens slowly and differently in different seasons. It may be a hard that never goes away – but it can be a hard that you live with, and live a full, good, joyful life with. Acknowledging the hard doesn’t give it power, or mean you’re stuck with it. Acknowledging the hard means you can face it and then move forward with it, or maybe around it, or maybe even past it.

For me, sitting in the hard is where I am ultimately reminded that I cannot do this on my own, and that my people can’t do this on their own either. When I stop and pause and speak the hard that this is, it is a prayer, a cry out to God. It is His strength I need to draw from, His grace I need to live out. When I stare into the hard, and acknowledge the evil it is, I am both freed from carrying burdens that aren’t mine and convicted of the ones that are. I am freed from bearing the weight of the cause of my cancer – it is not something God inflicted on me, it is not something I am directly responsible for – and I am encouraged as I face the things I am responsible for in this hard – where I draw my strength from, how I respond in little moments to those around me, my own selfishness and evil that I need to face and set aside, repent of and turn away from.

There are days when we look at the good, the blessings, the things we are grateful for and they are the things that encourage us to turn to God to get through the day. Then there are days when we look to at the hard, seeing it, calling it out, naming it and crying out to God because of it, and He uses that awful, this hard to draw us to Him, to remind us to rely on His Word, on His strength, on His grace.

Friends, I don’t know what hard you are facing. Whatever hard it is, I pray that sitting in it would give you the peace you need to face it, that acknowledging it would give you the strength you need to move forward. Looking at my hard means I see Jesus, our God who understands hard intimately, who faced hard for love of me, and who carries me through my hard, never leaving me alone. Beloved, He won’t leave you alone in your hard.

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12 thoughts on “Sitting in the hard

  1. I love this . Thank you . “Acknowledging the hard doesn’t devalue the good”. I will be sharing that quote, it is so very very helpful and true. love to you in your path.

  2. Always in my thoughts and prayers. – you are an inspiration to all those who are in the hard! God is Good. Bless you. xx

  3. “When I stare into the hard, and acknowledge the evil it is, I am both freed from carrying burdens that aren’t mine and convicted of the ones that are. I am freed from bearing the weight of the cause of my cancer – it is not something God inflicted on me, it is not something I am directly responsible for – and I am encouraged as I face the things I am responsible for in this hard – where I draw my strength from, how I respond in little moments to those around me, my own selfishness and evil that I need to face and set aside, repent of and turn away from.” This touched me deeply, Anne. These are words, beautifully expressed, to live by, no matter what our circumstances. Sending love to you and the angels around you, both here on earth and those sent from heaven. Aunt Gael

  4. I’m feeling that when you express your thoughts, your love, your faith, and your hurt so beautifullyand so freely, that you are somehow one of God’s deciples …. doing His work…. sharing His presence, and giving His reality to all of us! Thank you for that! Whatever blessings you have are an inspiration to so many.
    Much love!
    Elsa

  5. Yes to what Elsa said about your wise discipleship. I will gratefully share some of your thoughts with others who are sitting in the hard. Huge love to you and Coleman and the kids.
    Judy Hyatt

  6. Wow! Thank you for sharing this difficult journey and the strength and wisdom you are drawing from it. So eloquently expressed!

  7. Dear Anne,
    I am a nurse. I worked in oncology for several years, and though I developed a capacity to sit with my patients as they were toughing out some of the most excruciating events their bodies in disease and distress could throw at them, it was such a struggle to allow myself NOT to try to come up with words of comfort and hope. I knew my business with the chemo and the pain and the nausea meds, could deliver that kind of care with expertise, warmth and humor, but to the emotional and spiritual challenges they experienced, I wished I could SAY their troubles away. I could deliver the physical care but was deeply burdened by the fact that after I removed my gloves, washed my hands and left the bedside, they were still in a life and death struggle.
    Your message here is one of the most comforting, loving and faith-full pieces I have ever seen. That YOU, the patient, can carry a message of hope is extraordinary and, as Elsa said, you are a disciple. All the doctors and nurses who are caring for you will benefit from your capacity to articulate and channel God’s great love. I picture your gift moving through you, into them…(us) so they can grow into greater healers.
    Bless you from the bottom of a nurse’s heart.

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