“Why, God?” Lezlie cried out. “Why would you finally give me a daughter and then this?”
We all feel the pain of wounds. Some of the flesh, and some plunged so deep they stab our heart and soul. We choose how we meet those. Suffer alone, without God, friends or family, or glorify God with our faith.
Lezlie Winberry reminds us of how we truly pull out of the darkness.
From Joy to Pain
CaSondra entered this world as the sweetest gift her two brothers and parents ever knew. She fulfilled the desire of Lezlie’s heart, forever changing the lives of people she never even met. Her innocence danced out of large, dark-brown eyes and her generous smile.
Ten months later, life’s joy crashed around her family. Doctors diagnosed CaSondra with Denys-Drash syndrome — a combination of Wilms tumor (related to kidney cancer), nephrotic syndrome, and having been born with no ovaries. Within days, CaSondra held onto life in the pediatric intensive care unit.
Lezlie and her family left their home in Redding, camping in the parking lot of UC Davis hospital in Sacramento, California. They lived out of their RV and stayed in CaSondra’s room as much as possible.
“I would never turn my back on her,” Lezlie recalled, remembering her cries of, “Oh, God, don’t let her die!”
Pain and sadness had their hooks in them.
Writing It Down
After almost two years of living this way, doctors confirmed what Lezlie and her family knew: CaSondra would not live much longer. They brought her home, where she spent her last few weeks with friends and family. Four days before CaSondra’s second Christmas, Lezlie held her for the last time.
Lezlie, though pierced with pain over CaSondra’s death, comforted herself with the question: “What better gift could be given to a baby so engulfed by disease?”
During those painful days, Lezlie kept three journals. One focused on God. Her second journal contained medical information gathered during CaSondra’s illness. The third journal held records of her family who visited and people who supported them every day.
“…the journals just helped me keep my sanity,” Lezlie said.
They guarded against depression. She released the thoughts she couldn’t voice aloud onto paper. Through it all, Lezlie’s faith grew. And she learned to rejoice in the Lord.
Asking the Right Question
But it took more than writing. Lezlie needed unshakable faith to lift her and her family from the ever-darkening despair.
Lezlie camped out in the Book of Psalms, where she found hope in the promises. She discovered how David went through his darkness. How the enemy pursued him, and yet he still rejoiced and cried out to God. She read how he openly voiced his questions to God, and how he went through depression and hard times. She marveled at how David then broke out in song, and with shouts of joy, praised the Lord.
God used Lezlie’s writing and the writings of David as a way of pushing her toward truth and comfort. When writing in her journal one day, Lezlie heard the Lord tell her, “It’s not a matter of why. You’re asking me the wrong question.”
God led her away from that question because “why” sounds much like a child in rebellion.
“Why? Why? Kids don’t want to know our answer,” Lezlie realized. “They want to do their own thing.”
God taught her the importance of letting go of the why. So she began changing her questions to “What now?”and “What next?” and “What should I be doing?”
The Process of Healing
Lezlie knew the value of rejoicing in the Lord. But, how, in the midst of this darkness, could she even mutter a kernel of praise?
“I think it was something I had to just do out of obedience,” Lezlie recalled. “I had to make myself do it.”
Making herself do it didn’t always mean singing with all her heart. Some days, she read a song out loud, but never sang it. That proved enough. It settled her soul and spirit. Lezlie learned it wasn’t a matter of doing what she felt like doing, but doing what she needed to do.
Through in-depth Bible study, Lezlie learned of God’s promises. She saw His faithfulness and knew Jesus stood as her Savior. That’s how she learned what having an intimate relationship with God looked like. That relationship brought selfless care, compassion and peace. And it brought healing.
Help Is On Its Way
Two years after CaSondra died, Lezlie began writing a book. Lezlie’s mom took a free writing class for seniors at the local community college, and Lezlie went as her mom’s guest. That class challenged her to come up with one sentence that defined the purpose of her writing.
She realized what that purpose looked like: Growing through grief. Using this purpose, Lezlie wrote her first book, “When I Cried Out.”
“I pray that whatever your pain is, that you, too, will cry out, recognizing that help is on its way,” Lezlie said.
You can get a copy of “When I Cried Out” on by visiting her website or clicking here.