By Sheila Jones
Program Manager, Strategic Educational Alliances
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
I recently lost my dad to cancer. Like so many stories we hear almost daily, it was a heart-wrenching journey to watch someone I love wither away to cancer.
Cancer may have taken my dad, but it gave me more than I could have ever imagined.
Cancer introduced me to a loving world of healthcare staff, from the specialists to the nurses to the people who popped by to tidy his room. They worked tirelessly to help my dad at his worst, offering unconditional love, from their attempt to heal him which then shifted to comforting him when the hope of complete healing dwindled.
My amazing group of friends and Grand Canyon University coworkers gave me shoulders to cry on, words of encouragement and last-minute help picking up my kids when I wanted to stay by my dad’s side. They let out and fed our dog when my dad’s time was growing short and I forgot I needed to be more than a daughter.
Our friends and neighbors offered dinners for my family when we could barely find time to take a shower, let alone cook. They provided a gentle reminder that the world was still spinning despite our inability to see beyond our need to help my dad.
Cancer taught me to put a voice to the love in my heart, to be sure not to bypass sharing my favorite memories of our time together and make sure I remind my dad often of all the things he did for me, when all he could focus on was how we put our lives on hold to care for him. Cancer gave me the ability to test my love and nurturing skills beyond what I ever thought possible. Cancer showed me that at the end of the day, love is simply and truly, all we need. Cancer allowed me to give every ounce of being a daughter to my dad and mom during his battle – and for this I am proud.
Cancer helped me build an incredible team with my family to make sure not a moment went by where my dad didn’t feel fully loved and cared for beyond measure. I knew my family was pretty awesome but I got to see it in action, minute by minute, in the darkest and roughest of times.
Most importantly, cancer deepened my trust in God. It taught me to lay fully in the arms of Jesus when burdens were heavy, to seek Him in the storm and lean not on my own understanding. Cancer forced me to do this hundreds of times each day until it became a beautiful habit. I had tried to build this habit on my own for years before, but cancer helped me near master it. God was imbedded in this painful journey every step of the way and I bow deeply in thanksgiving for His gifts, even the painful ones.
Cancer may have taken my dad away but it left me with a beautiful new awareness of all the collateral blessings the Lord intends for us. Seek the Lord in your times of need and He will be there with open arms.
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More About Sheila:
Sheila Jones currently serves as program manager for Strategic Educational Alliances, working closely with homeschool groups within GCU’s Alliance Program for Homeschool Achievement (ALPHA) program. Sheila spent her previous years in admissions at GCU and supplementing education by running and owning a private tutoring company servicing the state of Arizona.
Sheila earned her undergraduate degree at Northern Arizona University and is currently working on her master’s degree in leadership at Grand Canyon University. Sheila’s hope is to explore and learn more about how she can glorify the Lord through her opportunities as a servant leader. She adores working and advocating for homeschool groups and hopes to have a hand in furthering their opportunities for growth through GCU.