Recently I learned that a friend is facing cancer. Cancer is one of those hovering clouds in my life since my father died from it when I was 22 years old. Anytime I deal with health issues myself, I wonder if it's cancer. Maybe everyone does--even those who don't have a father who died from it, I don't know. But for me cancer has lodged in the back of my brain, lurking and waiting to pounce whenever IT decides too. I live as healthy a life as possible, keeping ever vigilant--in part-- to keep this monster at bay. In the days of my father's cancer, treatment wasn't as advanced as it is today. Today, cancer can mean a lot of different things. But no matter what form it takes, it always causes serious reflection and serious examination of ones own place in the world.
My friend is a man of great faith. He's a Christian in the truest sense of the word. For "Steve" this was like a personal call from the Lord telling him to set his priorities straight and to get back to what matters most in life. Now if you knew Steve, you would think he's already in a pretty good place with his relationship with the Lord. Ever since I've known him, which hasn't been that long, I've kind of had the impression that he has a personal telephone line to the Lord. Steve talks a bit differently than most of my LDS friends, since he's of another faith, and from another region in the country. But one quickly knows that he is absolutely sincere and a man of integrity and graciousness.
I talked to another friend yesterday who faced a similar situation a few years ago. She said that from the time of the news to later that day, she'd already gone through the stages of grief, from a denial, anger, sadness, and eventually to acceptance. I know her cancer brought her closer to her husband, and that she never looked at life again in quite the same way. She found reservoirs of strength she didn't know she had. I imagine my friend Steve has already found those reservoirs. He's ahead of most of us--his faith is one of total acceptance that everything really is in the Lord's hands.
I often go back to a line that my favorite institute of religion instructor often said, and he may have been quoting someone else, I don't know, but he said--"Don't sacrifice what matters most for what matters least." That is something I constantly have to hit myself in the head with, and yet we do it often--daily. Or at least I do. I might miss out on a conversation with friend or family member that could deepen understanding in trade for something less important. Or something that seems important at the time, but won't have any lasting importance. Sometimes I talk, when I should be listening. Sometimes I pity myself and my own problems when I should be serving others. Sometimes I'm worrying when I should be doing. Sometimes though it all comes together and I do just the right thing at the right moment. I need more of those moments.