(Part 8 in an 11 part series based on John Piper’s booklet, “Don’t Waste You Cancer)
#8 – We waste our cancer if we let it drive us into solitude instead of deepen our relationships with manifest affection.
You may have noticed that I have disagreed with John Piper on several of his points, or at least, struggled with them. But this one – he hit the nail on the head!
I’ve struggled with relationships while dealing with cancer.
There are so many voices in my head. I’m an introvert by nature, so it’s natural for me to struggle in the midst of people. Cancer, knowing that my time is limited, thinking about a future without me for my husband, children, grandchildren makes me feel even more. As much as I hope, I know death always wins in the end. And in the end, there will just be one person – me.
And there is so much focus on me. It’s easy to feel, “poor me,” and lean in to the sympathy of others. Then there are the “bucket list” thinkers, challenging me to have goals I have no control over accomplishing.
Pain makes me turn inward, curling into a ball, careful not to move least I hurt. Focus is on survival, bringing the world inward, rather than reaching outward.
So it goes against nature to begin reaching out, and yet, that is where true comfort lies.
Connecting with people I have known for years gives me perspective. They have been with me through hard times and good. They know my strengths, my weaknesses. They know how to encourage me and when to just be silent. They know my hope…and my fears.
Connecting with people I haven’t known well is more difficult. I have limited energy and want to focus my time on those I love. And yet, God calls me to glorify him with uniqueness he has placed in me. I’m still using skills in driving projects within Cru, although I always make sure there is a co-leader for those times “chemo brain” sets in or treatment gets more aggressive. And, although it is emotional hard at times, I have new relationships with new friends because we have something in common – they have diseases that are taking their lives. It’s not a ministry I every wanted, but am receiving.
Connecting with people I love has been, surprisingly, the most difficult. When things go well, I fear this may be the last time with them, and I want so much more. When they don’t go so well, I long to make it better, to fix it, because this might be the last memory they have of me. I struggle between being overly intense and overly casual. There is so much to say, and so little time. But it’s not just my desire to say things, but also their ability to hear. Even in writing this, the tears flow…
John Piper says, “That is the kind of heart God is aiming to create with cancer: a deeply affectionate, caring heart for people. Don’t waste your cancer by retreating into yourself.”
Is there pain in your life that makes you retreat into yourself? I encourage you to reach out to others, relationships who know you, new friends, loved ones, and share that pain. If you want to share it with me, comment below.