Today, I was sitting in the media room at the Church I serve at (GT Victoria) and was putting up slides promoting the events for next weekend and it occurred to me, next weekend is August 14th. And yes I do follow this thing called a calendar and it shouldn't be that shocking really but in all fairness it was early, I barely slept the night before and I hadn't yet met my daily quota of coffee. So the fact that August 14th was almost upon us felt like some sort of revelation to me at the time
So why is August 14th significant? Well it's my father birthday and just to be clear I'm referring to my earth father not my heavenly father, in case you were confused...
My father went through chemotherapy last year, and it seemed like that whole cancer thing was kind of touch and go at times, or perhaps it seemed so based on the fact the information I was receiving on the situation was being funnelled to me through my mother's over zealous interpretation of events. Regardless, of how information was relayed or not relayed to me throughout the experience it never changed the fact that we were dealing with cancer.
And cancer is just, well, it's not very predictable. And no amount of medical intervention is going to tame that beast. So you just have to go into the experience with a positive mindset, an acceptance of the way things are (not as we would have them be) and plan for the worst while hoping for the best. So yes, one year later, my father is cancer-free (I haven't heard otherwise so I will assume this to be the case) and I'm feeling way less suffering than I was during that time.
Now I don't want you to take away from this that my suffering is less because my father is cancer-free because that is not the case. And I know that is hard for people to hear, and that is because people are not accepting people. See suffering is created from the expectations we have of how a situation should unfold. My suffering is less because I have no expectations of how this cancer thing should play out.
See you can live a "healthy" life, do all the "right things" and you will still die (true story). Maybe you will die from cancer, maybe you won't. Maybe you will get cancer but not die from it. Or maybe you don't get cancer...but you still die.
And it's ok. Because death is supposed to happen. No really, it is. And maybe you don't want to think about death but you should think about it sometimes. And I don't mean dwell on it and get all teenage angsty Andrea goth about it, but do think about it.
Think about death in terms of your life. Are you living your life the way you want to be? Are you fulfilling your purpose? Or are you living for someone else. My guess is, if you are not living your purpose and you find you are living for others, you are probably not one to think about death. In fact you probably avoid the topic all together (maybe you have even stopped reading this post long ago, which is unfortunate for you because this is a damn good blog post you are missing out on!!).
The problem with thinking about death is that it makes you look at your life, it makes you evaluate yourself. And the last thing you probably want to do is take a look at yourself in any sort of critical way. So you ignore it, distract yourself with life's pleasures, until you can't ignore it anymore. Because life's pleasures are nice but only if they are serving you. But most of the time you are a slave to this world. And you become beaten and broken until there is nothing left but the sweet release of death. And there is only one way to beat this life trajectory and that is to live the life you were meant to. Live a life of purpose.
Yes, I'm being preachy (I'm having an Andrea evangelical moment) but I speak from experience. From spending a lifetime in the trenches of despair, addiction, hopelessness and depression, I can say the only way out is purpose. And purpose comes from having a relationship with God.* True story.
Maybe it was not what you wanted to hear. I know when I first heard the instruction to develop my relationship with God it was quite literally the last thing I would have thought would help my situation. But it did. And I'm so thankful it did. Because for the first time in my life, I can actually say, I'm happy to be alive and experience all the moments God has for me: the good, the bad and even the cancerous ones.
So get on developing that relationship with God. After all you only live once so make the most of it please, as your fellow humans will like you much better for it :)
*Note: I call it God but you can call it whatever you want, Creator, universe, spirit...etc.