Oh my friends. I have been putting this post off for far too long. I have been wanting to share but couldn’t find words or thoughts or courage. I still can’t really.
I want to introduce you to my friend, Kara Tippets. Ok, she isn’t really my real friend, but it’s how I think of her. I haven’t ever actually met her, but oh, how I love her. I love her grace and her faith and her nearness to Jesus.
Kara’s story is one of profound grace and sorrow and faith. I cannot even begin to tell you, but she can:
I first learned of her story back in October when my dear friend Ann Voskamp (also not my actual, real-life friend) first posted a letter Kara had written then read via youtube to Brittany Maynard, the young woman facing stage IV brain cancer who chose to end her life. Brittany shared her story and it quickly went viral. I had been so heartbreakingly intrigued by Brittany’s story that I was without words.
How does one find words?
And she does, through every step of her hard journey, Kara finds words to lift. Words to encourage. Words to teach big love in the midst of big sorrow. Her words heal – not bones and organs and diseases. Kara’s words heal souls. Mine especially. In my own battle with sickness, I have seen what it means to want to do so much more than a body will allow. Although the disease in my story is different and that test result painted the word “chronic” instead of “terminal”, Kara’s words – her story has been a salve for my aching soul.
Every morning, I rush to her site to see what wisdom she has for us – for me. Because when someone knows Jesus, really knows Him, you can see it on their face. Hear it in their words. And you can’t help but want to be near them. Just like Zacchaeus when he merely saw Jesus face to face, his entire legacy changed. The same is when I read Kara’s words. My heart changes. I see my story in a different light. I am reminded that days are long, but years are short.
Kara’s days are fading now. In her latest posts, she shares that the fight is over, treatment has halted, Hospice has been called. Just a few days ago, she wrote:
So, there it is. My little body has grown tired of battle and treatment is no longer helping. But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well. By degrees doing both, living and dying, as I have moments left to live. I get to draw my people close, kiss them and tenderly speak love over their lives. I get to pray into eternity my hopes and fears for the moments of my loves. I get to laugh and cry and wonder over heaven. I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus- and He will provide it. He has given me so much to be grateful for, and that gratitude, that wondering over His love will cover us all. And it will carry us- carry us in ways we cannot comprehend. It will be a new living and trusting for many in my community. Loving with a great big open hand to my story being the good story- even when it feels so broken.”
Friends, this is peace – the hardest kind. I am so thankful that I have found this testimony of peace. Please join with me and pray for this family, these people. I feel a bit of their sorrow. Not out of sympathy – although, I feel that. But because Kara has become a friend in motherhood, a mentor in loving through hard seasons, and an inspiration to trust the One who knows through all the unknowns. We sometimes never get to see the why of things this side of eternity. But I think…this time, we can get a little glimmer of all the ways God has used a broken story to bring healing and strength and peace. Hard, hard peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
To read the whole story, you can buy her book, The Hardest Peace.
Thank you Kara. I will forever be grateful that I found you. I can easily imagine we could have been girlfriends chatting over lattes about babies and Jesus and marriage and favorite books and hard decisions and mistakes and grace and forgiveness and life. I can’t imagine your sorrow but I have dared to imagine your coming joy! I will pray hard, long after you are gone for your people. And one day, we will sit together, this whole community of saints at the feet of Jesus and all will be healed, all will be well and all will be right.