Sweet, spunky, loving and full of life Laura Strong lost her fight against cancer just a few weeks ago. I was only privileged enough to cross her path for a short time, but that chance meeting left an indelible mark on my life experience, as was her way with everyone she met. Her death is a bittersweet mix of rejoicing that she is in heaven, and the searingly painful reality for her husband, three children, and everyone who loves her. This is where the shadow creeps in.
It's easy to process your diagnosis, arrive at a place where you feel "comfortable" with the shadow. Walking alongside it for more than a year now, that shadow and I are well-acquainted. Most of the time it only requires a quick glance- the times when people compliment your "haircut", or you realize you can't wear that strapless dress you've been hanging onto for a few summers. Sometimes, it's easy to shrug it off, turn on the light of the truth, and forget that the shadow is there. Then there are times when the shadow slips it's arms around your spirit and squeezes. Losing Laura was one of those times. It's a reminder that the shadow is real- very real- and a reminder of how much I need to continually seek the light of the Truth, lest I be convinced of the lie of the shadow. Because that's just it...although it is very real, it will never win. It's a lie I can't afford to believe.
Laura's gift to me on earth was a quilt. Her gift to me in heaven is the reminder that my life here on earth matters, and is precious to the one who has every one of my days written in His book. Her gift to you, what she would want you to know, is that you are precious, you are loved by your creator, and your life matters. And she would give you permission to give the finger to anyone who tells you otherwise. We are all broken- whether it's cancer, a disability, or a slight tendency toward anger and a penchant for pride. The difference is what you allow God to do with your brokenness.
Like Laura, I want to be a vessel. A broken vessel, able and willing to be filled up with grace. Jesus uses our brokenness to share His truth- the truth that He was the ultimate broken vessel- perfectly broken for our benefit. And in that truth, we find rest.