Today, I am sharing part two of Joanne’s story. Part One is here. Her story is one of triumph and faith through crazy disasters. She is truly one of my heroes. I am so excited to share her story. Be sure to read her story in her own words here.
There are no easy answers on how to stay steadfast in hope, just as there are no easy answers to why our worlds crumble. No single answer can guarantee hope, but we can find some themes to give us a better chance. Joanne tenaciously held onto these ideas, and got through her tragedies with her hope in God unbroken. She resolved to remain a hope-bringer.
Remember, You Are NOT Alone
There are times when the knowledge of God’s presence is just not enough. We need someone with skin on to talk to, to hug, to care for us. This is where the church can step up, bringing hope. Over a decade later, Joanne remembers the kindnesses of her church family in the days following Ricky, Daddy and the brain surgery.
The pastor who answered the phone at 2 am in the morning as Joanne sat under the streetlight crying in the rain for God to DO something. The same pastor who had spent years building into Joanne’s life was now with her from El Paso as she cried her eyes out from grief.
The small group leaders who took her and her mom to Boston Market for dinner. They didn’t know what to say, so they just listened, and loved, and hugged, and cried. Every time Joanne passes that Boston Market, she smiles and recalls the friends who just showed up and offered themselves.
The mom who left her own hospitalized epileptic daughter to sit with Joanne. She showed up for Joanne, knowing the pain and fear of living with an epileptic. She soothed Joanne’s guilt. “It’s not your fault,” she said many times. “Don’t blame yourself, Joanne.” Words of peace and hope flowed from her heart to Joanne’s.
The longtime friend who answered the phone in the middle of the night and listened to Joanne pour her heart out. Then she flew across the country to comfort Joanne during the funeral services and stayed for the whole week. Just to love on her friend.
Joanne learned we were not made to walk through life alone. This is never more true than when our hope is challenged. Reach out in honesty and share with others where you are in life. They will support you and bring you heaping helpings of hope and care when you need it most.
Remember, Community Comes in Many Forms
For Joanne, it was not just the local church where here sorrows were heard and her broken heart put back together. She found an online community through fellow musicians at the WorshipTogether online chat rooms. As Joanne developed friendships, she took a chance and shared her pain.
The results were amazing. People from across the globe in this WorshipTogether tribe prayed for Joanne. She got emails of encouragement. They even met unexpected financial needs. Shortly after she joined the chat rooms, her car window got smashed. She had no money and was stressed, so shared her worries with her online community. They gathered money from everyone and sent her a check. This is community functioning properly. Meeting needs. Giving love. Supporting each other.
Whatever the form, community cares for its own. Don’t get stuck waiting for your local church to meet your needs. I sincerely hope they will, but don’t put God’s heart in the container of the local church. He is bigger than any church, and will solidify our hope in a variety of ways. If we are looking.
Joanne learned more lessons in the midst of her pain. Check back on Friday to read the conclusion to her powerful story.