By: Tiffany Pearl
If any of you know me well, you know I cry…a lot and over EVERYTHING. I have since I was a kid…in fact, my family has a nickname for me that I won’t share with the world, but it might just have something to do with what happens to your nose after you have had a good cry that rhymes with Tiff. Bella and Julianna love to tease me when they see me crying because it happens so often and so easily. It could be over a touching commercial or a meaningful song. It could be over a thoughtful gift someone has given me. Or it could be over a sweet video I receive from one of my kiddos from church. There are so many reasons my nose starts to itch and the tears start flowing! I always tell the girls and Jay, this is the way God allows us to get our emotions out so we don’t keep things bottled up inside. It’s the way He made me and I’m ok with that.
And over the past two months with everything Bella and our family are walking through, I have had my moments of tears. But I’m actually shocked that I haven’t cried more than I have. In fact, it confuses me that someone who can cry so easily over little things has not cried more over her baby walking through cancer. Trust me, like I said, I have cried. I have left the room to sob in a closet. I have tear stains on my pillow. I unexpectedly teared up once while playing a game of cards with my mom. But my days are not filled with unending sobbing as you would think. And that is when I have to point upwards and give God all the praise for that. Because despite the tears that have been cried, I can honestly say there has been more laughter, more smiles, more joy than any tears that have been shed.
Psalm 30:11 says “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.”
The book of Job reads,”He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”
These words became so apparent and true last night as our brave and strong 15-year-old daughter chose to shave her entire head of hair off. I will back it up a bit to the beginning of last week. We just came off a really hard week with Bella. The beginning of our week included a visit to urgent care with the start of an ear infection on top of everything else. She spent most of last weekend and the beginning of the week in bed, in physical pain. It was a difficult week for her to say the least. And then, just as the doctor had told us would happen, her hair started to slowly come out due to the effects of the radiation. As the antibiotics kicked in for the physical pain, the mental toll began for Bella. Although we knew it would happen, I’m not sure anything prepares you for it when it actually starts to happen. Not only is it a difficult realization that at the age of fifteen you are losing something that physically identifies you, but it is also a physical reminder to herself and everyone she will see along the way, of what she is walking through. We tried to prepare a bit for this several weeks back by cutting her hair shorter so it wouldn’t be as hard to lose. This also provided a way for her to donate about 12 inches of hair to an organization that will make a wig out of it for someone else walking through cancer to benefit from. As the hair started to fall out, the tears also started to fall, both for myself and her. It was a small amount at first, and then by Saturday night , she combed out almost a whole head of hair. We’ve talked to a few people who have told us she may just want to shave it off as opposed to it falling out on its own. Bella came to that conclusion on her own yesterday, which actually marked her fifteenth out of thirty radiation treatments. Yes! That means we are officially halfway done!
So as Jay ran to a local store to get the equipment to do the job, I sat with Bella holding back my personal tears. She had moved past the tears, but I hadn’t had the chance to yet. Again, nothing prepares you for this moment. But I knew no matter what, I needed to be strong for her, hold her hand while it was happening, and have a smile on my face for her. I prayed A LOT yesterday…I prayed for God to allow her to see her true inner beauty to shine on the outside for her to see, I prayed for strength…a whole lot of strength, I prayed that God would hold back my tears so Bella wouldn’t see me upset, and I prayed for joy in the moment for all of us.
As we prepared the bathroom in our temporary living space, I fought back tears. But I knew I had to let them out. I cried a good cry with the door closed and as I’ve been since the hospital, called out Jesus name. And a calmness came over me.
Bella was ready, Jason was ready and now I (think) I was ready…but what happened next I didn’t expect. First, Bella grabbed the scissors out of Jay’s hand and said, “I want to do it.“ With the first cut, I surely thought it would cut through the tear barrier I had prayed for. But something unexpected happened…laughter..smiles…our sadness, anxiety, and fear turned into joy. I watched as every piece of hair was cut and shaved off, I watched while Bella’s smile remained on her face. I watched as the laughter came from Jay’s dad jokes. And it never changed the rest of the evening and into today. Bella woke up with a beautiful smile and an absolute peace about her. Jesus had turned our mourning into joy. That’s what He does. He gives us a reason to smile when we shouldn’t have one. He gives us laughter in a situation that would normally be filled with sobbing. He gives us hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.
1 Peter 4:13 says, “Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” We can’t even imagine the joy that will be revealed to us, but I know I will hang onto that truth. Although I’m grateful that God does not wait until our lives are over to reveal us glimpses of it, as He did last night for us.
I will hang onto the fact, that although I am a bit of a cry baby, I know someday I will not shed a tear for anything. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we can have confidence in that. He defeated death and all the pain that comes along with it. He promises us eternal life through Him and only Him. One of my favorite scriptures is from the Book of Revelation, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” I cling to this truth. This truth gives me hope not only for then, but for now and I pray it does for you as well. The tears that we cry today, will be turned into joy.
We will go a little upbeat on the song selection for today :)