All Things New
Letter from KimberMarie Faircloth
It was snowing in April. Giant white flakes flurried from the sky onto the blooming lavender-flowered trees around me. The juxtaposition of a gray, fluffy blanket of clouds hovering over roads lined with green grass and bright pastel flowers was jarring. I couldn’t help but wonder at what God was thinking. I was driving to check on my mom, who is currently fighting a terminal cancer diagnosis that had spread to various parts of her body including her bones and brain. My heart thumped ominously in my chest as my car found its way home in the snow. Constantly, I found myself wishing that finding God was as easy as finding home; but, little did I know, I was looking in all the wrong places.
No matter where I went, I was always missing something. Nothing was enough and enough was nonexistent. The few times before college that I went to church, it never felt right; either I wasn’t related to the people who filled the pews or I just didn’t fit into whatever clique was forming their youth group. More than half of my childhood was spent being best friends with my mom and dad, which I feel blessed to say because not all children get that. Whatever I was missing from the world around me, my parents made up for in abundance and I basked in that, ignoring all the reminders that each of us is only on this earth for so long. Religion, at this time in my life, was this intimidating yet vague idea beyond my scope of understanding on a personal level. I assumed that what I needed then was success and intelligence but when I became Catholic in 2016, I found out what I had been missing all along: God.
From the time I was a young girl with new friends every year even though my family never moved. From the time I was in college trying to figure out where I was supposed to be and ended up locking myself in my room crying, not wanting to move, not wanting to care, not wanting to do anything at all. From the time I sat on my therapist’s couch explaining all my fears and weaknesses; venting about the diagnosis of my best friend—my mom, and graduating into a world where employment is hard to get. This whole time I searched for solace in all the wrong places: in status, academic success, superficial pleasures. I never took the time to truly and genuinely trust our Father--I believed in Him but never trusted Him.
I felt completely empty when I heard the doctor diagnose my mom. We sat there, my mom, dad, and I as the man in the white coat leaned against the counter next to alcohol swabs and sterilized medical things. When he said, “Stage III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer,” I looked to mom as I always did when I didn’t understand the medical jargon. After all, she was a nurse who cared for over thousands of patients for over 30 years. She was the person who kissed my wounds and healed my insecurities. I remember her face being a mix of solemn acceptance and tragic despair. She closed her eyes softly as if to keep the tears in. In that moment, I had to face the truth I never wanted to as somewhere a clock was ticking. My dad’s eyes watered along with mine as we three held each other’s hands. The doctor attempted to comfort us by saying that Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer responds very well to treatment. A shadow from the dark place inside of me rose up like black smoke from a gutted home burning to the ground. I so badly just wanted the doctor to shut up. I didn’t want to hear the words “fight” or “warrior.” I didn’t want a pep talk. I wanted a guarantee that my mom would live forever.
I felt naked, stripped to the core and shivering in the frigid weather of a world filled with broken shards of ice. And there was Satan, pulling on the strings of my weaknesses, my propensity for cynicism and acedia, hoping I would give up. Growing up, my mom and I had a saying when one of us had a bad day: “you can have your pity party for now but then you need to get up and keep going.” For a long time, I just kept going. My pity parties became so short, so nonexistent that I just pent up everything until I fell into despair. But at least I had a high GPA, right? Then, all of a sudden Death was knocking on my family’s door and none of that seemed to matter anymore.
As I looked to the sky driving to see my mother that day, I looked to the horizon line to glance at the snowflakes. I imagined something that I’d never seen before. There I was, burying my face into the folds of our Father’s robes, crying. I was finally having that long-awaited pity party. Letting out all the hurt and suffering onto his shoulder. All the images of my mother crying in pain, sick and suffering from all the side effects of chemo that they don’t show on the commercials, I put them all into His lap. His hands wrapped strongly and warmly around mine as I let go of all the expectations and possessions I hoarded to shatter at His feet. Two circular holes penetrated each of His palms; it was within the circumference of His injuries, I found where I belonged. For the past twenty or so years, I have always felt out of place like a snowflake in April.
The thought of being able to embrace our Lord as if He was actually my own dad was new to me. For the first time, I could picture myself having a close relationship with Jesus. Hugging Him and telling Him about all the things I’m thinking and feeling and trying and doing. Yet, He already knows to begin with. Something about the coldness of snow in Spring made the warmth of His love permeate my thoughts. Imagining my relationship as a daughter of God made me feel like I had found home, finally. During that image of holding onto Jesus, I saw Him take my hands in His. I could hear His voice saying:
“Everything will be okay, I make all things new.”
During all that time of worrying, working and never feeling like what I was doing was enough, I took so many blessings for granted. From the food in my fridge to the clothes on my back; from this body that I abused when it is so healthy, able and dare I say, beautiful to the family and friends who, unknowingly, kept me close to God when I was starting to drift away. Even during all that time of dealing with my own mental anguish along with my mother’s final months, we had each other. She was there to talk me through my panic attacks and I was there to hold her when her hair began to fall out. During the hardest time of my life--a period of immense physical, mental, emotional and spiritual suffering, I found God (2 Cor. 12:9). Not just God but our Father, my Father. Just as He promised, Abba made me new.
Now, in moments where I’m shaking my head in confusion over why mothers get cancer or sobbing because I can’t take it any longer, I just hide my face in His robes. He knows how I feel. I let Him embrace me and guide me. I remind myself that He doesn’t like watching us suffer. He cries when we run to our vices thinking they will provide solace when they never do. He weeps when people take their privileges for granted as others are left without. He sighs when people shake their fists at the air cursing Him for not doing enough. He feels what we feel but tenfold.
I parked in the driveway as the snow danced on my windshield. It was a moment of awe at the beauty of the living world. God always had a way to captivate and remind me of His Truth through nature. Take heed, sisters, to stop and breathe. Everything in this world has a purpose—from the blades of grass to the leaves on the trees, from the homeless woman sleeping on the bench, to the family taking their groceries into the house, to you. You have purpose, every single inch of you; your sufferings and successes, your victories and defeats. Remember that when you’re feeling out of place, God has instilled a mission within your existence that only you can pursue. The journey is not light but when you find your burdens crushing you, turn to Him. Live a life fiercely full of love for our Father so that when Death is staring your tired eyes and broken body down on your final day, Satan trembles. All the tears you will shed, the earthly judgments you will face, the suffering you will bear, it will be worth it. All of it will be worth it. He makes all things new.
P.S. I dedicate this letter to all of you, sisters, but also to my mother who passed on Tuesday, April 30th. She was a real-life angel, my best friend, my loudest cheerleader. She will be dearly, sorely missed but is no longer suffering and is much closer to God now. And even though there will always be a piece of my heart gone while she is not here, I want you to know that I still feel just as close to God as I did when I saw the snowflakes in April. The relationship is imperfect on my end but now I lay it all down at His feet. All I want to do is live this life He blessed me with love and joy that I find in Him and hopefully, maybe, help someone else get close to Him too. I will see my mother again one day; I will make sure of that.
About the Writer: KimberMarie Faircloth
KimberMarie received her Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC and now lives back home in Greensboro, NC. She is navigating the waters of post-college life with her schnoodle, Hemi, by her side. Her biggest dream is to one day become a published author. KimberMarie feels closest to God when she’s studying Catholic apologetics, writing, and helping others learn how to be better stewards of the earth. She is currently consecrating herself to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin with the guide of Saint Louis de Montfort. Her patron saint is Mary Magdalene and she loves when people ask about why she picked Saint Magdalene. Connect with her on Instagram, @arborhugger, for information and tips on how to better take care of God’s creation!