By Gina LaPapa
God's Brave Women - Gina's Story
I looked over at my son in his cap and gown and I didn’t have to say a word. He was skimming the crowd and our eyes met. His small smirk melted me. Tears were trying to escape as I willed them back with my wide smile. It was such a bittersweet time for me as I realized the prayer I carried with me all these years had been fulfilled. I felt such overwhelming joy and gratitude. It wasn’t simply him graduating from high school. It was much deeper than that.
From the time I was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was only two, I desperately pleaded with God to allow me to live long enough to see him and his sister grow up. (My daughter was one at the time.) His eighteenth birthday was just two short days before his high school graduation. Two milestones I had been dreaming about for years. Somehow, in all those years of dreaming, I never allowed myself to dream beyond this moment in time.
I planned homeschool curriculum and cultivated the early years of their lives. In my humble desires, that would be enough. I truly lived in the present and soaked up every moment with my family.
"I lived long enough at this point in life to know that precious prayers are not always answered in our favor or the way in which we hoped. Even with that knowledge, I still prayed to live long enough for my children to remember me and for me to see them grow until they graduated from high school."
I lived long enough at this point in life to know that precious prayers are not always answered in our favor or the way in which we hoped. Even with that knowledge, I still prayed to live long enough for my children to remember me and for me to see them grow until they graduated from high school. To dream beyond that milestone seemed overly selfish. Lord, just long enough to see them through high school.
“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (ESV)
Lord, let me live.
Never, in all the years of reciting that simple prayer of Lord, please let me live to see them grow, did I ever dream about my children’s future beyond graduation. I never pictured them with jobs or thought of weddings or grandbabies. The realization that I get to dream beyond this moment was new and it was pure joy. It was joy, mixed with gratitude, mixed with excitement. The preciousness of that sacred moment was held in space for a moment as I took a snapshot in my head—a feeling I would want to remember forever.
"This has been my year of doing that delicate dance of holding on, letting go, and dreaming beyond."
This has been my year of doing that delicate dance of holding on, letting go, and dreaming beyond.
For the first time ever, I was brave enough to dream of the next phase of life for my children. I envision college graduation and careers and dancing with my son at his wedding someday. Dreams I didn’t dare whisper years prior.
I’ve held so tightly to that desperate prayer I prayed over and over again, I forgot to ask for help in allowing my heart to be open to the natural progression of what comes next. They become young people with their own lives. Because I didn’t dare be greedy and dream beyond this moment, I didn’t know how to prepare my heart for a new dream.
Now, we stand here at the beginning of this next chapter. We made it. I can look back with gratitude and look ahead with just as much thanksgiving and joy.
“A time to laugh…a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV)
My son knows it. He knows the magnitude of emotion about to spill over as I watch him in his cap and gown. We had a teary conversation about this realization just days before. He knows the simple yet profound prayer that has been my mantra. He knows the joy of this milestone. The gift of this moment is mutual.
While I pray my job as mama is not complete, this chapter holds so much more weight because that prayer was answered. I have the honor to dream new dreams and think about life beyond those desperate prayers 16 years ago. Not only has God answered those prayers, He, in his loving mercy, has gifted me with the new gift of dreaming beyond. Beyond high school. Beyond cancer.
You might be going through a season of survival or chaos or just plain exhaustion. You might not have the energy to think of what’s next. You, like me, might be pleading for just one more year, month, or day with your beloveds. You might not dare ask for more. Whatever your limited dreams are right now, know that God is right there with you. You can dream for more. You can dream beyond. You can lay all of your hopes, fears, and dreams at God’s feet. Fear is not welcome here.
"Whatever your limited dreams are right now, know that God is right there with you. You can dream for more. You can dream beyond. You can lay all of your hopes, fears, and dreams at God’s feet.
Fear is not welcome here."
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Tim. 1:7 (ESV)
Whether He holds you in the midst of the chaos or He allows for new, brave dreams to be dreamed, He is good.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Gina LaPapa is a faith warrior who encourages her readers to grow their faith through everyday brave moments. For the past 15 years, as a breast cancer overcomer (Paget’s Disease), she is a speaker, writer, and mentor for others who face their own trials. She is married and a step, bio, and adoptive mama of five. You can connect with her at www.BeingBrave.faith, on IG @ginabeingbrave or on FB @ginalapapawriter.