Faces In The Sea

Faces in the Sea #11 – Joni and Josh, the Radiant

“Happiness is being married to your best friend.”       I dislike this overdone, sunshiny quote. I dislike it because it short-changes happiness by assuming it’s available only to those who are both married and friendly, and I hate it even more for putting an unfair expectation on the way a couple ought to relate with one another. And we don’t often see it, this “married to my buddy thing”, do we? No, not really.

I have this friend, Josh. The first thing nearly everybody says of him is that he looks like Ironman. That’s easy enough to see, but there’s more to him than his handsome, Hollywood mug. He’s also a gifted speaker and storyteller with a set of vocal chords that can turn written words to pictures, but these attributes are quite small in comparison to the tremendous size of his heart.

A couple years ago, my struggles with anxiety and depression reached a fevered pitch. I was constantly overwhelmed with a desire to jump in the car and drive, drive, drive until I could not recognize where I was, and no one would ever find me. You hear people talk about being broken. I didn’t feel broken. To be broken assumes that you were once whole, and I felt like I’d never been whole in all my life. I was not broken, but defective.

I wanted to disappear. Instead of disappearing, I called Josh, and we got together – defective me and the guy who looks like Ironman – and after talking awhile, I felt less defective. I decided not to disappear, and that’s why I’m still here to write about Josh and his wife, Joni.

Josh refers to Joni as his bestie, and when he says this, he’s not just throwing empty, meaningless words into the air; I think he really means it. It’s a rare thing these days to hear a person say something meaningful, so whenever I witness such a thing, I stop and consider, and sometimes I write about it later.

Joni was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago. Growing up, I remember being terrified of cancer. Someone had told me that cancer was caused by pollution in the environment, so if I was riding my bike outside, and a car drove by, I would hold my breath to keep from inhaling the exhaust fumes. I’m sure cancer has been a scary thing for Joni as well, but she’s braving through it, and Josh is too – I imagine it’s nearly as scary when your bestie has cancer as it would be if you had it yourself.

Joni and Josh performed a ceremony recently – a holy ceremony that took my breath away. They took turns shaving each others’ heads and recorded it for their friends to see. As I watched, I thought of Jesus’s words, “…so that the works of God may be displayed…”

I am one who asks “why?” a lot. In the face of something as tragic as cancer, why questions are fruitless, so I try not to ask them. We can’t always understand the whys, but we can bear witness to a beauty that radiates – the rare sort of beauty which springs from unexpected places and surprises you – when people endure difficulty with love and dignity, the way Joni and Josh are doing each day.

I want to thank and commend these besties for being so radiant.

Much, much love to you both.    

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