The meaning of the phrase “ring the bell” varies considerably depending on the audience. For a youtuber, like me, “ring the bell” means that alerts will be sent to subscribers when new content is uploaded. “Ring the bell” for students signals the beginning or end of the school day.
For cancer patients, “ring the bell” is symbolic of a triumph over cancer. It signals the end of the chemo treatments. It is a “Ring the bell” sends up a thousand hallelujahs to the heavens to thank the Lord the treatment is over. Suffering will wane and health is being restored.
Sighs of relief. Floods of emotions pour over each one from the months of carrying the unknowns. All the ups and downs, the exhaustion, the havoc of medicine on the body now laid to rest.
“Ring the bell” is the symbol of all that is now done, finished and passed. It is a “pinch yourself” kind of moment as the patient’s arm reaches to ring the bell, “please tell me this is not a dream!”
The ringing the bell tells everyone on the oncology floor at the hospital that this lady or man is a survivor.
Tomorrow is my mom’s “ring the bell” day. It is her day to celebrate that she is done with her cancer treatments. She can breathe that sigh of relief we’ve been waiting and praying for. We all will. She’s not a cancer patient anymore, she’s a cancer survivor.
My mom has survived invasive surgery, chemo treatments, the side effects of the treatment. To be honest she has survived slowing down and resting…not something that is a typical part of her nature. She’s survived losing her hair and wearing wigs or turbans. She is a survivor. So tomorrow, she gets to ring the bell, and shout from the mountain tops, “it is finished”!!
As I say that, “she’s a survivor” there is a part of me that questions my own use of the word. Though she has survived, she has done more than that. She has thrived. I guess that makes her a thrivor!
She has thrived with an upbeat attitude. She had a cancer diagnosis, but she did not assume, or take on the diagnosis. It is something she had to walk through, not become.
She trusted God with each step of the process. She leaned in to Him. She pressed in with prayer. As she leaned in to God, her community around her leaned in to her, praying, sending cards, meals and thoughtful gifts.
I give all the praise to God for healing my mom. I praise God because cancer gave my mom an opportunity to see how much she is loved by those around her, perhaps something she may never have fully realized in any other way.
I give all the praise to God for giving me a mom who is a fighter. She fights with prayer and meekness, not with words, grudges or might. Her strength is under the control of her savior Jesus. She has a humble and surrendered heart. She’s a servant to those around her. She puts others above herself.
She’s a woman worth writing a story about. She is a living, breathing example of biblical principles in the flesh. She has been as solid in her faith as an oak tree. Firmly planted in the love of Christ Jesus.
Like the oak tree my mom has grown deep roots to weather the storms of life. It didn’t just happen. It was the result of a seed planted long ago in the heart of a little girl named Rebecca Jean. And over the years that seed of faith was watered, pruned, tested, trialed and made ready to enter into the most difficult season of her life to date.
My mom’s faith was once an acorn. A fruit that fell from the tree of her mom and dad’s trust in God. They believed that God is a God of miracles. They believed impossible was not a word in God’s vocabulary so it would not be a word in theirs. They planted an acorn that became my mom the oak tree.
Oak trees are resilient. Oak trees are also fruit bearing. And the roots that my mom had grown deep and wide over the years of her faith journey caused acorns of faith to be dropped and planted to start a new tree.
Jeremiah 17:8 says, “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
The fruit my mom bore, well, that acorn is me. I am one of the results of my mom’s active, and intentional faith. I am the result of my mom’s walk with God lived out over a lifetime. I am the result of the fruit that she bore in a season of drought.
My mom may be a cancer survivor and a bereaved mom but because of deep faith roots nourished over a lifetime she is a thrivor. She has continued to bear fruit even though she’s been in a season of drought.
And she has done all of it as a solid oak tree. When people ask me how she’s doing I often say, “she’s firmly planted, she’s an oak.” She is an oak. She is a fruit bearing oak. I want to be just like her.
As I think back on all that has transpired since my mom’s diagnosis, life has been nothing but a whirlwind. Through it all, the roots of faith that have us planted deep into the foundation of Christ kept us from toppling over. It’s the roots, ingrained into a foundation that counts, a foundation that matters, a foundation that has eternal perspective and power to be thrivors.
There will come a day in each of our lives when we will face a trial or trials. Whether we realize it or not, what we are doing now, how we are living, what we choose to focus our energy on, where our source of hope and truth grows our roots deep or keeps our roots shallow. It is how we live now that will determine if we survive and thrive through the storm.
If you took a sample of your roots, where would you find them? And what would the roots be made up of? Are they roots of a thrivor? Roots of an oak tree? Are you planting roots that will produce a fruiting tree?
I pray that at some point in our future we will all get to ring the bell, and get to say, “it is finished!” When we have made it to the end of this life and are journeying into our eternal home. May we ring the bell not just as survivors of this life, but as thrivors who have grown deep roots of faith and planted acorns of faith for the future generations.
Thank you mama for your example. Thank you for your courage and strength. Thank you for your faith that encourages me to trust in a God of the possible. I love you.