Hi. My name is Kara Tippetts, and I may not be alive when you read this book. I hope so, but I don’t know. That decision is in the hands of the Author of my life—His name is Jesus. I trust Him with every ounce of who I am. The reality is I am dying, and some of that story is told in my book The Hardest Peace.
My good friend Jill and I dreamed and talked about writing a book together, one that would try to take the mystery out of walking with one another through suffering. That’s this book. We would have liked to write a book that took the uncomfortable or awkward out, but there’s no way we could do that and be honest. Because honestly, it’s hard. But it’s not difficult. You just have to show up. That’s not some kind of secret figurative language. We’re talking about literally showing up.
There is so much power in showing up, humble power in saying, “I’m here. I may not have the answers, but I’m here.” Most often it’s those who come without answers or agendas who are the most helpful. Jill has been one of those people.
It has been beautiful to watch God gently care for our needs so specifically through the care of our community. The care came in both unexpected and specific ways most days. Ways that I didn’t ask for or know I needed. But even more than my needs, God has cared for the tender hearts of my children and my husband. He has shepherded and protected them fiercely throughout my diagnosis, and now as we are moving toward my last breath, I see the gentle hand of protection ever upon my family, ready with present grace to walk them through the hard good-bye.
In my affliction, as I see more hard come, I know we will be kept. I often say my story is one that has been shattered into a million pieces but that each piece is known and loved. The shattered pieces of us all are known, intimately known. As I see our community surround us, I see the intimate knowing of God in our situation. Showing up for another says, “I see you. Your pain is known, and though I cannot make it better, I’m here and that’s what matters.” Showing up for another, extending yourself for another, is always costly. Always. So why do it? The most important reason is community. Another way to say that is “friends.”
Friends. Community. It is the only way to know and be known. It’s where we see our own humanity and frailty, our gifts and our weaknesses. When we show up for one another, we invade each other in love and become witnesses to the truth that trials and sickness and pain are not the whole story. There’s more, so much more. We can remind one another that our lives are not a mistake. And, most importantly, that we are loved with an everlasting love.
Editor’s note: Kara Tippetts went home to Jesus on March 22, 2015, after a long battle with breast cancer. Kara completed her contributions to this book before her death. Therefore her words carry the tone of the present tense, as they should.