Rediscovering your song . . . by Elaine Olsen

As promised, I am pleased to introduce an author and fellow blogger I admire.  Elaine is a breast cancer survivor.  She was an author before cancer, she was an author through cancer and today her writings are more passionate and poignant because of cancer; I am drawn into her world of words.  Enjoy this encouraging and heartfelt “song” and if you are longing to read more well written, thoughtful pieces, please visit her blog, Peace for the Journey.

Rediscovering Your Song…

Being a survivor isn’t about defeating the cancer. Being a survivor is about defeating the silence.

That’s what I told a group of cancer survivors last Sunday night at a Relay for Life banquet. It’s what I’ve come to believe. To survive cancer is to survive the silence—the deafening quiet that creeps in alongside suffering in hopes of suffocating the song that once sang its melody so gracefully, so faithfully, so willingly, so naturally.

There is a great price that often accompanies a great suffering. That price? A great silence. A time when the previous witness and words of a great faith are stifled by the traumatic strain of simply staying alive. Singing isn’t a priority when suffering steps to the front of the line. The song often gets buried, cast aside and forgotten, to simmer beneath the weightiness of pain and of what once was.

But here is the truth of the eternal song. Once the music has made its way into a heart, no amount of throwing and crying and denying its pulse can keep it buried forever. We can go to the grave refusing it a voice, but in the end, the music remains. It will find its chorus, even without our participation, because the King’s music is meant to be sung (“peace for the journey: in the pleasure of his company,” 2010, pg. 7).

Some songs don’t die. Some songs are just that strong, certain, truthful, and demanding. Some songs, God’s song, your song and my song, are still singing. Maybe you haven’t heard it in a long time; maybe, like me, it’s been buried beneath a season of grief and suffering. I want to encourage you today to not give up on the reality of the music that’s hiding deep within your heart. The melody remains, and whether or not you’ve been victimized by cancer or by another soul-eating something, you can know that your survivorship isn’t solely dependent on a pill or a program or the best resources available to you by doctors. The best of all of these remedies will only carry you so far in the process of healing. In fact, none of these may help you as it pertains to defeating your cancer.

But if you can defeat the silence that surrounds your cancer? If you can dig deeply to retrieve the melody that once sang so beautifully through your lips? Well, then you’ll have survived your disease in a way that yields eternal value. For our pain to matter, our pain needs a voice that is surrendered to the process of renewal. It’s a slow process that walks its own timetable. Silence doesn’t turn into song over night. But over night, a step in the right direction will yield a few notes… one or two or ten at first. One verse building on another until the music makes a melody that takes what once was and sings it more gracefully, more faithfully, more willingly, and more naturally. Almost as if that’s what God had in mind all along—a better song, refined and renewed through suffering.

To get there? Well, I don’t have the perfect strategy for curing your silence, but I have a few thoughts about how you might begin the process of rediscovering your song.

Remember. Take time to review the melody of your yesterdays—the days before your suffering began. Remember your voice, your faith, your hope. Reflect on the beauty that once was. Write it down, retrieve those memories, and linger upon them long enough until the refrain finds its way to your lips. And then, with that old song fresh in your memory…

Resist thinking that your old song was your best song. Refuse the enemy’s lie that the best has already been. Your best song is your next song—the one tempered and refined by the trials of life. God can and does write new notes into your musical score, not in an attempt to cover up the old ones, but rather to enhance them. To energize them. To fully empower them with the truth of his Spirit so that when you sing, you sing with understanding and with the certainty that all has not been lost in the suffering. God has been gained in the midst of great peril, and you have lived another day to sing the witness of his grace. And then, once you’ve made it past your remembering and your resisting, by God’s grace and with his permission,…

Rehearse. Start practicing your new song. A few notes today; a few more tomorrow, until you get the melody down, until it starts sounding familiar. Sing to yourself. Sing to your kids. Sing to your spouse. Sing to your friends. Sing to the mirror. Sing to God. Don’t worry about your voice. You’ll probably warble at first, crack your voice a time or two and turn a few heads in the process. Who cares? Songs of faith aren’t written to shame you. Songs of faith are written to reframe you. It doesn’t matter your performance with the melody. What matters is your willingness to try—to be so bold as to believe that you were meant to sing and that nobody, not one single person, can sing your new song as beautifully as you can. And finally, if you’ve made it this far with your remembering, resisting, and rehearsing, then…

Rejoice. Thank God for the gift of the song. Thank God for the gift of the song. Thank God for the gift of the song. Over and over again, rejoice in the gift of the song, because the song begins and ends with God. In the beginning, he wrote the melody. Through his Son, he retrieved the melody from the depths of the deepest grave. And through the power of his Holy Spirit, his melody still sings through flesh—through you and me. What a gift! What privilege! What renewal is ours because of the song!

Being a survivor isn’t about defeating the cancer. Being a survivor is about defeating the silence.

Are you willing to do the hard work of soul-survivorship? I pray so, because no one can sing God’s song through you better than you. I believe this with my whole heart, and by God’s very good grace, I’m endeavoring to live accordingly. Remembering, resisting, rehearsing, and rejoicing all the way home to heaven.

Peace. Everyone wants it. Few possess it. Peace isn’t a product for sale. Peace isn’t a feel good philosophy. Peace isn’t a place of escape. Peace isn’t the absence of conflict. Peace is a person, the very person of Jesus Christ. To know him is to know peace. Peace for the Journey is a collection of fifty-two meditations to deepen your intimacy with Jesus. Wherever the journey of life leads you and however your life unfolds, Jesus wants to be the abiding companion who walks alongside you.

Elaine Olsen is a speaker, Bible study leader, writer, and cancer survivor. She resides in North Carolina with her husband and four children. Her second book, Beyond Cancer’s Scars: Laying Claim to a Stronger Spirit, will be released this summer. To learn more about Elaine and her writing/speaking ministry, visit


3 comments on “Rediscovering your song . . . by Elaine Olsen

  1. Charlotte Bitterman says:

    I found your site today and am so thankful for your openness in sharing about your post-chemo struggle with depression. I’ve been done with chemo for 8 months and feeling a bit unconnected at times. I also know Jesus and I’m so grateful for His grace and peace for the journey. The oncologist said to give myself a year to find my “new normal”???? It’s so helpful to just be told by you that I’m normal :-} I grew up in Libby and traveled to Kalispell many, many times over the years. We now live in southern Utah. We moved here so I could be warm and to help with fibromyalgia pain. We attend Calvary Chapel St George. Thank you so much for sharing. God Bless and Keep you!

  2. peaceforthejourney says:

    This is a generous gift, friend. Thank you for allowing me this “space” on your blog and for joining me on the road with Peace! I’m so glad to have you as my sister-pilgrim, and I look forward to all the many ways that God is going to bless your ministry through your story in the days to come. Keep singing!


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