Build each other up, by Rachel Myers

But God’s love keeps us safe

Jude verse 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

[A note from Debbie: After Karis died, we started collecting reminiscences people wrote about her in a memory book. In God’s exquisite timing, Rachel Myers just sent me her contribution to this book and gave me permission to share it with you as well. Holidays are challenging times for me, as I imagine they are for anyone who has lost a close friend or family member. Rachel’s thoughts came at just the right time to touch that tender part of my heart—an example for me of what Jude says, that as we build each other up, our hearts are kept safe in God’s love. Thank you, Rachel.]

When Karis passed, Debbie invited me and others she called friends to come and pick a piece of her jewelry to remember her by. I chose the most colorful one – a necklace of all sorts of tiny stones, in every shade of the rainbow. I never saw Karis wear it to my memory, but it reminds me of her because it’s so unpretentious and cheerful. My two-year-old daughter, Paige, loves to try on my necklaces and this one is a favorite of hers, too. It brings me joy to share it with her, though she doesn’t yet fully know why.

I knew of Karis for a while before I had the joy of knowing her personally. I could tell by the way folks mentioned her name in conversation that she had endeared herself to many. By the time I became her friend, she had already been quite sick for a while. The season for ambitious adventures was over, but Karis’s enthusiasm and knack for building meaningful connections was probably stronger than ever.

What I remember most about our times together is her earnest kindness, gentleness, and positivity. The daily obstacles she faced just to remain alive would leave many of us in despair, but I never heard her complain, even when she was clearly in pain. She was more content to listen than to talk. She would always end our chats by asking how she could be praying for me.

Karis made the most of what she had each day: whatever strength, time, and opportunities there were to serve those around her. She was a living example of the character produced by suffering. I work in a hospital where I meet many people living with chronic illness. Those on this path can choose to either feel bitter about what they’ve lost, or to celebrate what they have. I honestly don’t know how I will handle it when I’m faced with the same decision, but I’m slowly practicing for the latter.

Karis’s example continues to encourage me to cherish the opportunities for human connection that each day brings because they are so much of what brings joy and meaning. I have learned to relish chances to go deeper in conversations with my patients and to be a blessing to them. Karis certainly knew there is so much joy in giving!

I also am working to enjoy the moments I might otherwise take for granted, like when my daughter is asking me to show her all my jewelry for the hundredth time. None of us know what the future holds for us or for our children, but I sure hope to hold what I’ve been given with my heart and hands wide open, as my friend Karis did.

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