Last year, a woman battling terminal cancer took the stage on America’s Got Talent and brought even the most stoic hearts to tears (we’re lookin’ at you, Simon Cowell). The hope that emanated through her soul during this epic audition was magnetic, and her original song, “It’s OK,” had Cowell leaping for the Golden Buzzer.
Jane Marczewski, also known to the world as NightBirde, captured our hearts with the unmistakable truth that hope can be held even amidst the most tragic of circumstances. Her heartfelt and authentic outlook overwhelmed the judges:
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore
before you decide to be happy.”
Jane’s message of hope forged a following of millions, and she lived every one of her final days with intentionality and purpose. After a four-year battle with breast cancer, she died this past Sunday, February 19. Never having met her, but completely awestruck by her story, I feel changed by her life and her death. I came across her podcast interview on Teenage Mental Love, and wanted to share a piece of her legacy. It is worth every one of the twenty-nine minutes to watch.
Jane recounts “teaching her heart to hope” while facing all her worst-case scenarios at the same time. This is something I’ve yearned to do more of this year myself. With so many uncertainties and unknowns, she reminds us that we still hold the power to choose. Shifting my mindset is something that has helped me tremendously, but it still takes daily strength training to master.
HOPE FROM SCRIPTURE
The Bible our ultimate guide to hope, and mastering our mindset is a crucial component of our faith:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” – P h i l 4 : 8 M S G
We can choose to focus on our eyes on Jesus and our thoughts on what is “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise” (Phil 4:8) even when we’re looking darkness straight in the eyes. This is not to say that we won’t need to allow space to grieve and lament the hard things we face. It’s just telling us not to get stuck there.
If I’m being honest, I’ve been stuck. The hardships keep coming, one right on top of the other, and hope has gotten buried under the immediacy of health issues. But God keeps pursuing me, none the less. And His HOPE is true and real, no matter how I feel. After several weeks of feeling lost and behind, I found my Word For the Year (HOPE) in Romans 5:
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Life can be so disappointing. Things don’t always work out the way we picture or plan. But the hope we have in Christ, the hope that comes through the storms, won’t leave us disappointed. It will give us the strength and courage to endure anything we face.
(RE)FRAMING THROUGH PRAYER
God the Father, Christ the Son, Holy Spirit:
Give me eyes to see you,
ears to hear you,
a heart to trust you,
feet to follow you,
and hands to accept and extend your love.
When darkness clouds my view,
give me courage to look towards you
and find strength and comfort
under the covering of your wings.
These are two podcast interviews that dive into my journey through anxiety and depression as a Christian.
Listen in below! 🎙
Interview with Phylis Mantelli and Rhonda Velez @24CarotConversations
Interview with Ashley Henriott @MotherhoodUnfiltered
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