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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

Laying Hands




Humor In Chaos

Searching for Joy


Laying Hands

 

What is so important about having joy in life? According to movies and TV, joy is a fleeting emotion a level above happiness reserved only for the rich when on exotic cruises with a brand-new lover. There is so much wrong with that idea of joy.

 

Joy is life.

 

The first tool I utilized to deal with the shock of my husband leaving was TV. I desperately needed the distraction. That can be good for a short period of time, but only a short period of time.

 

When I moved from TV as distraction to TV as a motivational tool for myself, I discovered the show Ted Lasso. I love that show!

 

Ted Lasso is a character who has been dealt a huge blow. His wife, whom he loves deeply, divorces him without fully understanding why. I know the feeling, which is followed by another blow when he finds out that he is being used by the owner of the team he coaches for to…well, I don’t want to give away the story. That wouldn’t be nice. I suggest watching it. It’s good.

 

Ultimately, Ted Lasso, and everyone on the team is on a quest for joy like King Arthur and Sir Lancelot were on a quest for the Holy Grail. One of the soccer players, Dani Rojas, after a tragic accident on the pitch puts him in a state of emotional disarray, comes out of it finding his joy again stating, “Soccer is life!” I love that episode! He was back in his joy state of mind.

 

Joy is the culminating effect of searching for meaning and purpose, finding identity, realizing (or re-discovering) a state of real integrity is within reach no matter what has happened. It’s the result of perseverance, self-control, resilience, and acceptance of others and circumstances. It is bred from love, respect, faith, and most of all hope. The coolest thing about joy is that when all these ingredients come together to show where X marks the spot, joy can give all those things back to you in abundance.

 

 

This is why joy is important. Hope feeds joy, and joy feeds hope. This is how we can have hope when times are bad. Hope gives us the ability to do as Philippians 4:4-7 states Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Joy and hope work together to bring about the peace of God and keep us in Christ Himself. How amazing is that? Is there any other reason needed to search for joy?

 

Not only does that passage give us the order to rejoice in all times, even bad times, but it shows us how rejoicing always leads to peace. The word rejoice is a call to joy, to be joyful, to be at peace and knowing there is reason for happiness no matter what else is going on around us.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16 says Rejoice always. That’s a call to action, not a disingenuous, “Smile, please.”

 

In John 15:11, Jesus says, These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 

 

Where is joy? Do as I am doing right now and point to yourself. That’s where it is. It is in ourselves, us, the temples of Christ. That is where joy and peace and hope abide. We only get it from God within, not from anyone else.

 

If you continue in John 15, Jesus goes on to point out another reason why joy is necessary for life. He goes on to inform His disciples, and we who outwardly follow Him, that the world is going to hate them and persecute them because the world hates Him. When I read those passages, what I see is Jesus telling them that one great tool to endure the persecutions is joy. Yes, joy is a tool to combat the pain of persecution. Another is prayer. And there are others. But here, we are highlighting the need for joy, the need for hope, the need for peace, and the need to rejoice in all circumstances.

 

I am getting all preachy again. I am trying to not preach. I am not a preacher. But man! These passages give me so much joy! It’s hard to not shout it from the rooftops. Here I am at the time of writing this, sick, divorced, poor, no car for two years, barely able to keep a roof over my head, and I have joy in my heart. How did I find it? It was a rough road.

 

 

Throughout my life, joy was fleeting. It would come and go. I bought into the popular definition of it being nothing more than a feeling a step above happiness. On my wedding day, I felt joy (once the drama around the ceremony was put into proper context of the day). I had joy when having my children even though I was sick with each of them. Thing is, I didn’t recognize it as joy. I was getting there when my grandchildren were born. I definitely did not have it, or only in brief moments in the years I was ill and mostly in bed. I was entirely devoid of it when I discovered my husband was checked out of our marriage. I thought joy was dead and buried for me.

 

No. It wasn’t. I didn’t know it was right there for me to have. I was as far from it as I could be. It was not dead. The search was on.

 

The hidden blessing from all those years of illness was that I had unknowingly cultivated some of the ingredients for growing the joy state of mind within me. Lupus had taught me forbearance which is resilience, perseverance, and patience. I found joy through forbearance.

 

How did that happen? And what is forbearance?

 

If anyone had asked me what forbearance is before my husband left, I couldn’t have told you. I was exercising it and didn’t know it.

 

All along, people said to me over and over and over again, “You are so strong.” I heard that statement so many times, I got to the point where I wanted to smack the next person who said it. Not literally, just in my head. Why?

 

One, because I didn’t believe it. Two, because I had no idea what they meant. How was I so strong? I was sick. I was close to death more than once. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t tend to my family as they needed. How the fucking hell was I strong? (There’s that salty language I warned would appear.)

 

Now, I understand. It wasn’t just strength they were referring to. It was forbearance. And, good thing I didn’t smack anyone, because they were right. I felt weak as fuck, but I was spiritually as strong as I ever was before, and I was cultivating it. 

 

Another way to describe forbearance is endurance with patience and grace. I didn’t start off that way. I got there slowly. Eight years is a long time for something to grow. I learned to be patient with my doctors, with medical science, with myself, with the people around me who were also suffering because of my health problems, and with God. Him most of all.

 

There were two major steps that got me strong in forbearance even though I didn’t know it then, and both of them happened when I was having hands laid on me for healing.

 

The first time, I was preparing for my first major surgery. (Any men reading this, I am about to delve into the world of womanly issues. It will be okay, I promise.) Every time I had my monthly cycle, I bled, a lot. It was pouring out of me like water. Each month for a while, my hematologist would order me to go to the hospital to get a blood transfusion. I refused. I preferred to die than go in month after month for transfusions. That may sound dramatic, but I knew there was a better answer.

 

I went to my gynecologist and asked him about a hysterectomy. He told me he didn’t recommend it before because he knew my other doctors would refuse to sign off on it, but he agreed it would go a long way to improving my health. He flat out told me I could easily bleed to death during surgery, but he was willing to try. He believed my platelets in my blood were in good enough shape from the steroids that he could get me through.

 

I went back to my other doctors. Every one of them pointed out that I was at serious risk of bleeding out. I agreed. I wanted it anyway. Of my four doctors involved with this decision, the final count was 2 to 2. I was the tie-breaking vote and went in for surgery.

 

Now, I felt some fear. Was I really prepared to die if that happened? I knew I needed God in this big time. I went to my priest to set up the Anointing of the Sick Sacrament. I was asked by friends who teach RCIA classes for children and teens entering the church if we could do it during one of their classes. As a fellow teacher, I whole-heartedly agreed.

 

Two of my children, teens at the time, came with me to help me. My fatigue was so low, I looked like I could collapse and die at any moment. There was a huge circle of chairs around a large, expanded room. The priest was there waiting patiently. They sat me down, and he proceeded with the Sacrament.

 

The words melted my heart into the heart of Jesus. The smell of the incense in the oil applied to my head opened my mind to let Him in. This intense sense of peace entered my entire being. I was gifted this firm knowledge that all is well. Immediately, my attitude shifted. I no longer cared if I survived the surgery or not.

 

There was no massive healing of my body in that moment, but there was a miracle. The peace. The faith. The hope. The knowledge that all is well. That was joy. Yet, I didn’t recognize it.

 

A few days later, no anxiety, I checked into the hospital and had my surgery. My gynecologist did great. He decided to try the less invasive surgery even though he was certain he was going to have to open me up anyway. I gave him full permission and my confidence in his abilities, because I knew who was really guiding him. He did great. I did bleed quite a bit inside, but he was able to do the less invasive anyway. And, he was able to take pictures of my other internal organs and document signs of damage and scar tissue so my other doctors could get a better idea of what the lupus was in my body. They were not pretty pictures, but they were and continue to be valuable.

 

Of course, that didn’t cure me. But my forbearance grew, and my general sense that all would be well.

 

The second time I had hands laid on me for healing wasn’t too long after that successful surgery. Obviously, I was still sick with lupus. My immune system was still being a jerk to me. However, I was learning to love my body and accept it for where it was regardless. That previous experience gave me the gift of seeing my body as a gift from God that was broken and in need of love and attention like I would give to a broken bone or a huge cut. I needed to tend to myself as I would tend to a friend in need.

 

A few months later, a healing Mass was scheduled at our church. I wasn’t planning on going. After all, I had the Anointing of the Sick. I think I felt as if I was selfishly taking advantage of God’s giving spirit, which is ridiculous. He has more than enough to give to everyone. A friend of mine insisted I attend.

 

My daughter attended the Mass with me. The church was full. Even though this was well before covid, a lot of people were feeling the need. Those of us who needed healing were directed to raise a hand. I did. Everyone else was invited to lay hands on those of us with our hands raised. I had hands on me from at least three people, including my daughter. Now, understand, my daughter has her own health issues, but all the focus was on me because I was the one severely ill. She was stable. However, she had hearing aides in both of her ears but usually refused to wear them. She was not wearing them that day.

 

A stranger sitting behind us told us after Mass that this impulse came over her to take one hand off me and put it on my daughter, so she had one hand on each of us. The prayers commenced throughout the church. I felt that same warmth go through me when the oil was applied to my head from the Anointing of the Sick Sacrament before. I knew God was working. But not on me. I mean, He was, but not so obviously.

 

When prayers ended and hands were released from their charges, my daughter’s hearing was restored in one ear. One. Please let me repeat this one more time. Her hearing was restored in one ear. Not both. Just like that.

 

What?! What just happened?

 

That’s right. She got a direct healing miracle. Right there. She got up and shared with the congregation. There were a few others who got up and spoke as well. It was amazing!

 

And I was filled with joy! So much joy!

 

We were so used to her hearing issues that it didn’t occur to us that she could and should have asked for healing too. She didn’t ask. The woman, a stranger to us, did it for her. And it happened.

 

Why only one ear? I have no idea. No clue. Does it matter? God wanted to do it like that.

 

And the joy, the real joy, I had for my daughter that she got to experience that miracle! I went around and told everyone I could about it.

 

Now, I again didn’t recognize that I was in a state of joy. But I didn’t look at my health issues the same again. I knew that there was a reason I was going through this. I thought possibly this was some form of redemptive suffering going on. I have no idea. However, that experience gave me the gift of finally understanding what it means to give it all to God. I haven’t done that in all aspects of my life yet, but I was and still am when it comes to my health. I can rejoice and give thanks to God even when I am barely able to tolerate the day.

 

I still have days when the pain is unbearable. It is possible to live in severe pain and live in the joy of the Lord at the same time.

 

Rejoicing in all things is a gift we give to ourselves. God requests it, demands it even. We have the free will to choose it.


Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!

 

Sarah

Humor In Chaos


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