• Joellen Kemper

The Last Word


It has been a week! I think I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve cried. In fact, I confused my son yesterday morning when I just broke down in tears for no apparent reason [to him] as we were partaking in our morning rounds of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I share this all not for sympathy, not to vent. But for the same reason we all share stories...in some way my story is your story too.

This new chemo...it has earned its name...“Red Devil”. And I’d like to shake a few of my fists at it.

For stringing me out cold for days after receiving it.

And making me feel like a haggard old set of bones.

My hair started falling out these past two weeks. All these little rebel contenders just waiting to catch a ride on the wind.

I’m trying to hold the fact of how thankful I am that I’m not bald when I should be in one hand, while crying over the hair that I’m losing in the other. I can be both grateful and grieving, I’ve decided.

As I was thinking last night about why I was crying so much and just praying to be brave, it was brought to my attention that part of the reason I grieve my hair is my own propensity to feel shame. About everything. Anything less than perfection has to be hidden, can’t be out in the spotlight. I’m afraid to be “found out”, if you will. But I’m going through cancer treatment, for goodness sakes! Whose gonna think any less of me?! These are the silly, prideful things my thoughts get caught up in.

Thankfully, I’ve had God as a lifeline along the way. And I know He cares. Even about my hair. Before it started shedding, I kept having these vivid images randomly flash in my mind, of me in vibrant, bubbling health, doing normal things and I felt as if they were given as icons to hush my lurking fears because they weren’t daydreams of my own accord. My daydreams are normally in first person, and in these images, I was an outsider peering in. I couldn’t help but be left with the notion they were reminders from God that no matter what happens, things will be restored.

And then after melting down yesterday, I opened to Isaiah 54 and read the following words:

Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,

I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,

your foundations with lapis lazuli.

I will make your battlements of rubies,

your gates of sparkling jewels,

and all your walls of precious stones.

All your children will be taught by the Lord,

and great will be their peace.

In righteousness you will be established:

Tyranny will be far from you;

you will have nothing to fear.

Terror will be far removed;

it will not come near you.

God is always moving towards restoration. Satan and his evil principalities and modes of destruction never get the last word.

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