Don’t Take Things Personally

When you read things about a cancer diagnosis, you often read about some self doubt from the writer. I’ve written that an obvious question is, “Why did this happen to me?” The question is an obvious one. The issues that arise are in the responses to the question. What did I do to deserve this? Has God forsaken me? Weren’t my health choices good ones; reasonably healthy food, exercise, no drugs, minimal alcohol? The closing of this one way conversation is, “I must have done something wrong.” None of that applies. Cancer just isn’t fair. One example is that only about 20 percent of smokers get cancer.

I don’t believe that God has done this to me or forsaken me. Just like he didn’t forsake the soldier injured in combat, or the mother who lost a child, or the person who injured themselves falling from a tree. These are things life deals us. God speaks to us just as he did Jeremiah. “I have loved you with everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt.”

“God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers and never silent to your pain. He sees, He hears and He will deliver.” From the music of Henrietta Konadu (aka Herty Borngreat).

Back to parenting. Actually, parenting or having even temporary responsibility for the care of a young person prepares us for this thought that the things that happen are going to happen in spite of our best interests. Sue and I had the great, God-given, responsibility of trying to hone our parenting skills three times. Sue’s daughters, Leslie and Tracy were nine and ten years old when Sue and I got married. This was the first phase of my development as a parent. When they were 13 and 14, we had the twins, Sara and Tom and the start of phase two. While there were a few challenges (really just a few) with Leslie and Tracy, the real parenting started with Tom and Sara. I only imagine that two “handfuls” were harder than one.

Tom, at age two, trying to convince Sara that sitting in the top drawer of her dresser was safe.

Sara trying to convince Tom that the droppings from the newly acquired sheep (a 4-H project gone badly) were her mom’s coveted baking raisins.

The two of them thinking that eating their desert on the lap of a special dinner guest, who was wearing a new suit or dress, was part of the evening’s entertainment.

Then there was phase three. Sara came home from the hospital with Isaiah and they stayed with us until he was seven. There were plenty of teachable moments with Isaiah. There might have been more instances when he was teaching me than me teaching him. There was one particular time when I received a lesson that has stayed with me since.

It Isn’t About You

Not long before Sara and Isaiah moved into a home of their own, Isaiah went with me to a fundraiser held in a very large tent. While we were there, a pretty good thunderstorm settled over the area. When it finished raining, there were several large pockets of rain in the roof of the tent. Isaiah spotted one near the entrance and I could see he was taken by it. The next thing I knew was that he had a broom handle and looking out over the edge of the tent entrance, he poked the large, rain-filled pocket. I would guess that at least ten gallons of water came cascading down on his head and covered every inch of his body. While this was quite humorous to anyone who didn’t have to dry him off, I was in disbelief.

So, as I was searching for a case of paper towels, I asked him that over-used question, “Why do you do these things to me?” I then covered the back seat of the car with a trash bag, stripped him of everything that was wet (which was everything), wrapped him in paper towels and headed for home. As if my day wasn’t already going as planned, when we arrived home, he jumped out of the car, stark naked, and began to “streak” the neighborhood through every grassy area he could reach. Finally, when he decided to come into the house, I asked him, “Were you trying to embarrass your grandmother and me? If so, you did a great job.” This is when he taught me the lesson.

He said, “Papa, this wasn’t about you. I did what every kid in or around that tent wanted to do. I just got to the broom handle first. And, I wasn’t trying to embarrass you or grandma. Running naked through the neighborhood was just more fun.”

If you have a chance to share some part of this “don’t take things your children do, personally,” you will save them some of the stress brought about by always thinking that children do things to spite us or to punish us. It may just be more fun than the alternative we gave them.

UPDATE – I was not able to have my third infusion in a row on Wednesday. Sister Juleen was disappointed. She took me and was hoping to catch up on her reading. Platelets and white cell count were too low. I’m rescheduled for Monday so I won’t miss a whole week. I did have a second stent put in yesterday and I’m scheduled for an upgrade in late August. We’re going to North Judson tomorrow to visit friends and participate in a memorial service for my friends’ aunt. Going to Cedar Lake later in the day and spend the evening with my sister-in-law Dorothy. As you can see, I’m living the dream.

Stay Strong