By: Chris Norris

2016 was a tough year for me. On May 6, 2016, I lost my mom to a 6-year battle against breast cancer. This battle was full of ups and downs, with few glimpses of hope, generally followed by great disappointments. There were always new and/or growing tumors, in addition to various types of chemotherapy failing in their attempts to rid her body of the aggressive cancer.

Needless to say, this 6-year physical battle was also an emotional battle for everyone affected. During the months leading up to her death, I was still actively leading a community group at my apartment with other college students that attended New Circle with me. There were nights that I had no energy to lead, but I would power through for the sake of fostering community. Eventually it hit me - why do I keep trying to put up this front? Everyone in my group knows what I'm going through and loves me. No one expects this from me.

I finally surrendered my pride and one night at community group I asked, "Could we start tonight by just praying for me and my family?" This turned into an hour-long prayer session with many emotions shared together. It was then that I realized that just because I was a leader didn't mean I needed to try to carry the group on my own. They had my back the whole time. The weeks leading up to her death, other members of the group would offer to lead for me so I could take that off my plate. I didn't want to cancel group because community group was the one time a week I could join with my fellow believers and pray for peace amidst the suffering I was experiencing.

I will never forget that the day before my mom died, I had to drive to Indianapolis to take an end-of-semester final for an economics class, which the professor helped me reschedule from that weekend when he heard about my situation. When my community group caught wind of this, multiple members of the group were at my apartment ready to pray with me before I drove 3 hours back to the hospice center at home to spend the final hours with my mom. They specifically prayed for peace and for comfort.

To this day, I have never experienced the level of peace and comfort that I felt on that 3-hour drive to Evansville, IN. My mom passed away the next morning, but when I think back on that week in my life, what I really remember is the peace God provided for me through the prayers of my community group.