Life Outside the Lines by: Liz Clark
Today is a special day in my life…the 3 year anniversary of my being in remission from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma…At the end of this post I have a special way that you can help me celebrate…
Today’s post is written by Liz Clark…among many other talents, she is a writer…a writer who uses words to paints beautiful pictures of truth, and hope…I am lucky to name her as a friend…
I follow the colorful lines painted on the floor beneath my feet. The rainbow of color seems out of place on the cold tile.
The lines run side-by-side for a while, leading a small group of us forward, each of us silent on our journey. At the first intersection, the colored lines shoot off in different directions. The signs above us tell us what each color means, leading our tired feet to our loved ones.
Obstetrics is pea-green.
Pediatrics is orange.
Cardiology is red. That seems ironic.
Neurology is brown
I follow blue.
Blue for Oncology.
I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to follow the blue line that ends in a part of the hospital where one of my friends is fighting for his life.
I walk slowly because I know that soon I will feel the weight of the door to his room along with the weight of the truth. I am ashamed that my selfish anxiety has delayed my visit. I sent cards. Balloons. Flowers. I called. I prayed. But, until today, I hadn’t visited.
It was just too much.
For weeks, my heart had struggled to somehow to reconcile my expectations of how life was supposed to be against how life was actually was. My friend was young – only 22 – and instead of enjoying life and making his mark on the world, he was lying in a hospital bed, dying. Over the past weeks, he had received a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer and underwent multiple surgeries. Despite the surgeries and treatment, the doctors were not hopeful.
I finally arrive at the Oncology desk and ask for my friend. The nurse tells me she’ll call me when I can go in. I find a bench and try not to feel the tears that have been trapped behind my eyes.
Anxiety grips my heart as I recount my friend’s journey. I want to fix this awful situation, but I can’t. I decide to pray, because that’s all I have left.
As I pray, my heart finds Jesus’ words, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
And then, the tears fall, drawing a quiet look of understanding from an elderly woman nearby. She scoots down and pats my hand softly. Without saying a word, she hands me a tissue.
How God always seems to have these people in my life at the exact moment I need them, I’ll never understand. But he always does.
All at once, I realize that “laying down my life” here is what’s needed. The paralyzing anxiety that traps me inside my own head and prevents me from being there for my friend is what I must lay down. To show him love.
I must let go of my expectations and replace them with God’s expectations
I expect to fix it. God expects me to love. Even when it’s hard.
I expect to fit things into my small box of understanding. He expects me to extend grace, just as the elderly woman sitting next to me was extending to me. Even when things don’t make sense.
Being wrapped up in my own brokenness prevents me from doing God’s work. There is a time to mourn, and it might be right alongside my friend. But staying stuck inside my own head, alone and anxious? That’s not God’s way.
Just then the nurse lets me know I can go in to visit my friend. I hug the woman beside me, whispering my thanks in her ear. The bonds we make with strangers in hospital waiting rooms are eternal.
There are no lines beneath my feet as I make my way back to his room. Just a heart of love leading me forward. I choose to lay down “my life” of anxiety and shallow expectations. I choose instead to walk in God’s expectations of simply loving and caring for each other.
My load feels a little lighter as I walk. I am at peace knowing my friend is in God’s hands, right along with my heart. And that wherever the painted lines or other roads may lead us, being in God’s hands is the very best place to be.
Liz Clark calls the mountains of Pennsylvania home
along with her husband, Scott, and their 4 kids.
She cobbles together words to inspire and equip you at
To celebrate three years cancer free I have set up a campaign that you can donate to…it is called “Change in Perspective” click on this button to receive more information on this project I am excited to begin…
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