“Girls, I’d love to treat you to dinner to celebrate the end of Emily’s radiation treatments. Does next Thursday night work?”
The text came late October during the craziness of another morning that started in the dark pit of the radiation treatment room, and the words brought tears to my eyes. Yes! A dinner out with my best girlfriends sounded wonderful.
That next Thursday night, the three of us, dear kindred friends, sat closely in the loud restaurant, leaning in to talk and laugh. We caught up on life and shared hearts but eventually moved to the real reason for our night out: celebrating the completion of many dark hard months of my treatment for breast cancer.
We shared many stories and memories of these past months — moments of joy and triumph during tribulation — and also the times where I had difficulty finding joy and clung desperately to their love and help.
I sat there, tears filling my eyes as I marveled at the beauty and inexpressible comfort of being truly seen and loved, deeply and sacrificially, for so many months:
The spontaneous visit one evening early in the chemo process, after receiving a text from one of these friends saying she missed me and had made a chocolate treat especially with ingredients I could eat, and then we sat long on my couch as she gave me the gift of a safe listening and encouraging space.
The many times I wasn’t well enough to go to our Thursday morning Bible study that my boys also loved, so one came and gave my boys a ride, out of her way and a burden on her already overflowing plate; but nothing but grace and assurance was given in response to my protests.
The day I had to go to the ER and came home so sick, overwhelmed and heavy-spirited and one insisted on coming to pick up my boys and keep them for the entire afternoon and evening and feed them dinner. She texted pictures of their fun adventures while insisting that I rest and reminding me that this season shall pass and soon I would be feeling up for doing all the things I love to do with my people.
So many meals were brought and late night texts sent sharing deepest fears and concerns and always encouragement and boundless love.
Sitting next to me during chemo treatments and scary doctor appointments with laughter and a steady sisterhood of comfort. Organizing communications and meals delivered amongst a large group of friends and family. And always, always, simply being there. To walk the hard road, to carry burdens, and carry me in prayer to our Father, to listen and laugh and step in with a million large and small practical helps.
I never felt alone.
“You’ve crossed the Jordan River,” one of these friends told me as we sat at dinner. “And now we look back over the river, over the hard crossing, and we celebrate the faithfulness of our God.” And to commemorate, she shared that she was painting a rock — an Ebenezer — for me to keep and remember.
He is faithful.
One of His richest blessings is that of true, faithful, tender friends to walk through the river with and join hands in walking to the dry shore of a new abundant future.