A dear friend of mine recently emailed me a beautiful story about a friend of hers who had gone through a very difficult time. During her trial she kept seeing butterflies. They would appear randomly at the darkest of times, floating in the air, landing on her sleeve, and to her they began to be a symbol of God’s love. Each butterfly was a sweet whisper that God was near, and caring for her and surrounding her in her pain.
I have heard these symbolic stories from many who are going through trials or who have lost loved ones. Whether a ladybug or cardinal, a butterfly or a rainbow, it is God’s way of using creation to remind us that He is bigger than our pain and sorrow.
And so my friend challenged me to listen to the whispers and to seek what God may send my way to find peace in the hard and light in the darkness.
Friends, last night was hard and dark, and my mind went to all the worst places. Wounded and in pain from having my port installed, chemo starting on Monday, pills and pain meds. And the fear. The fear was seeping into every pore of my body and paralyzing me and taking over all reason. What if I don’t make it through this? What if I can’t take care of my children? What if I am not here to see my children graduate from high school? College? Get married? Who will be their mother? Who will love my husband? Will he find someone else to bring him happiness and love? Will they be ok? I couldn’t shut it down and my body ached and my heart ached and the waves of tears and fear eventually swept me off to sleep.
This morning I woke with the bright morning light shining through the window overhead. The fear had subsided and hope had begun to make its way back to its rightful place. I took my coffee to the patio and sat in the warm sun and prayed and pleaded and asked God to show up and to heal me and to protect me and to love me. My wet eyes were sealed with tears and all I could see was a beautiful glowing orange color. And I then I heard them, the birds, all shapes and sizes, all different sounds, ruffling through the trees, soaring in the sky, landing on the flowers, and fences. They were everywhere. And it came to me. God is not going to whisper me through this, he is going to shout and cheer and surround and smother me with His love. His reminders aren’t going to be unique and seldom and only appear once and a while. His reminders will be constant and obvious and bold and beautiful. They will be hidden on the limbs of trees, sometimes unseen, but always heard. They will be the first sound in the morning as I wake when the birds begin to stir and chirp in beautiful melodies. They will be flying overhead as I travel to chemo and doctors. They will be on power lines as I drive around town doing the mundane chores of a mother. They will be soaring above as I walk my dog or sit on the patio with friends. Birds will be God’s beautiful and constant reminder of his grace and love for me as I navigate this terrifying journey. They will be ever-present and everywhere, and all my fear and anxiety and pain will not be able to hide for the reminders will be too plentiful.
And I am reminded of another time that God sent me this symbol of peace. It was the single most deeply spiritual moment I have ever had. I was thousands of feet up on a beautiful glacier in Switzerland. I had walked up to the very top of the mountain by myself. The clouds were moving so quickly that moments of clarity and haze traded places within seconds. The air was so thin that I was gasping for breath and feeling light-headed. There was a peaceful silence, one that I had never experienced in my entire life. And I felt God’s presence in such a real and magnificent way that I just wanted to soak it in deeply as I knew that I was in a sacred space. And as I sat there in complete awe of God and creation and life, the vast clouds rolled back and before my eyes flew the most magnificent winged bird, literally soaring through the heavens. I cried and knew that God had given me an intimate gift at that moment, alone, on top of that glacier where heaven and earth met.
Friends, this journey ahead of me is going to be long and hard and excruciating. I thank you all of your support and I want to be real and vulnerable and celebrate the good and share in the hard. And I am completely terrified, and waiver between being okay and wanting to run away and give up. I need your prayers so badly right now because as the birds are a symbol of God’s love and peace, your prayers and strength and kindness and love will be the wings that pick me off the ground where I lie terrified and paralyzed. Thank you for being here for me, thank you for lighting this dark path so that when I feel like I just can’t see a way, I look up to see the birds overhead and I look forward to see your love and encouragement lining my way with sliver. You really are my silver linings.
Peace and love to you all,
Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
(PS. The picture above was taken on the glacier in Switzerland. It was heavenly)