The waiting game, is not a game
A week ago, I got a Facebook message from my daughter telling me the surgeon’s office had called and that there was “good news”. It is one of those things. When you hear, you give your head a double shake. You hear it again, and you are still in shock. It takes a little bit of time to recover fully and actually take it all in.I was at the office when my daughter got in touch with me and made me aware of the news. The surgeon called my home. The office manager advised that the results of the biopsy look good and that I have a follow up visit with the surgeon on 6 October at 12:15.
I called the office myself later and the office administrator used the same words “good news” and confirmed my appointment with the surgeon was for the 6th of October. The test results from the biopsy, so “good news” was to my own line of thinking “good news” which to me means “no cancer”. I was relieved but the wait for yesterday was just driving me a little nuts. The second week of April until now it quite a long time. I would have to wait a little longer.
So yesterday, the 6th was a day of anticipation. I went to the surgeon’s office, and that was when I got the shocker. The “good news” bit was that there was no cancer in the biopsy of the lymph nodes. But there was a cancerous mass on my right breast that would require surgery. The only question remaining was when, and if I needed to have chemo and/or radiation before/after the surgery. Fortunately, I was leaning against the furniture in the surgeon’s examination room. I was stunned and dazed as was my wife Lori. Lori pressed home the question about “good news” and how it could be so, and the surgeon spoke softly and gently to explain the seriousness of the lymph nodes and that now there was more of an idea of how to deal with the cancerous mass, and that he needed to consult with the radiation specialist and oncology specialist, and that we should hear in about a week from them. These specialists will analyze the ultrasound findings, x-rays, and make a determination on the best course of action. So my medical fate is now in the hands of the “experts”, and the “waiting game” continues.
Waiting and the emotional rollercoaster
My emotions are through the roof right now. I want to laugh like a giddy teenager. I want to cry because of the relief I feel. I want to jump up and down because of the excitement I feel. I want to go to a quiet place and mellow out and quietly meditate and reflect on what just happened. It is incomprehensible to try to describe to you what I feel in my spirit, in my heart, and in my body. I feel radiated by love. I really feel loved. Not that I was not loved before, but right now I feel like I am so super loved and cared for, that I feel it stronger right now than before, it just feels more real and more alive in me.
There is a volatility of emotions at times like this. What else could you expect, right? You try to be strong for everyone around you, your wife, your kids, and your friends. You put on a brave face and just focus to be determined to stay positive no matter what. I tried that, and at times I would bottom out, because I needed to vent my feelings and my pain, my angst, my frustration, my fear. On a couple of occasions I cried with Lori and let it out. On another occasion I wept with believers praying for me and ministering to me. It was all so good, so therapeutic and so loving and affirming. But the rollercoaster ride of emotions is sure hard to take.
The need to emotionally escape the current situation
I have found that I have needed moments where I can escape this whole “reality”. I love just hanging out with Lori and not talking about any of this. The simplest of things, cuddling or holding her hand, and looking into her eyes. The simplest and most beautiful things in the universe for me. She at times would tear up and cry and confess her own fears as would I. We would hug and we would have a good cry together. We felt the love and embrace of god as we embraced each other. I would hold her close and she would hold me close. No words were needed. Everything was spoken in the affection of the hug. We stayed there for what seemed a long time. Then we would come apart and just gaze into each other’s eyes, and we echoed our love and affection for one another, and we declared our trust in God and that He would strengthen us, no matter what we would be facing.
So, now the wait is a little longer
There is that horrible four letter word, W-A-I-T. Have you ever hated or dreaded that word? I have come to a particular place when it comes to this word. It can be such a mixed bag for us. But it is something to ponder on and think upon and reflect upon. In my own life, in this context that I find myself In, I have several thoughts when it comes to “waiting”.
People in our society are somewhat dysfunctional and delusional with unreal expectations when it comes to the very idea of “waiting”
For many people waiting on God sounds like a boring thing to do. In our speed driven world, the very idea of “waiting” seems like an oxymoron and an impossibility. In business time is money, and waiting can become a costly proposition. In my adjusting work I found that a vehicle that was in a tow yard, inevitably caused a delay in getting a vehicle appraised and repaired. The waiting time is often costly and expensive in the processing of an auto claim. You have the wait of having to assign an appraiser to go and view the vehicle. You have the wait of having your rental coverage confirmed (and wait even further if your policy doesn’t have coverage for the rental and you are at fault for the accident). You have to wait for all the interviews to take place, the insured, the driver, witnesses. If there are injuries, there is the waiting for the injury details and the assigning of a bodily injury adjuster. If there are traffic violations there are the police reports to request and wait for. Over all, there is a lot of waiting when it comes to auto claims. So that concept of waiting, it runs counter cultural to the way most in society live their lives in a delusional state of instantaneous gratification. When you have an auto accident, depending on the gravity of the accident you could be looking at a couple of weeks to over a month before you get your vehicle back. Nobody likes to wait, and certainly not that long.
The expansion of the Internet and Internet shopping has made instantaneous satisfaction almost a reality.
There is an increase in impatience in our society and culture that is tied to immediate satisfaction. The turnaround time with online shopping is incredibly quick, to the point that if the stock is in, you can have it within 24 hours. This is one reason why Amazon has been so successful. They not only beat the competition with the price, but on delivery of the item as well. I know, I am not only a fan, but a happy user of Amazon when it comes to birthdays, holiday buying, or needing an item quickly. I even bought a pair of military grade combat boots and got them in two weeks and they came all the way from the Republic of Ireland. It took two weeks because I did not want to pay the extra shipping for 48 hour delivery. I am a cheap Irishman.
Look at the time we are living in. You used to have technology turn around hardware and software products every 18 months. That is until Apple upped the ante. RIM/Blackberry could not compete with Apple and Google, and Microsoft learned that it could not take a long time to turn around a product if it wanted to stay relevant in the technology sector. RIM/Blackberry imploded. Nokia imploded the same way. Neither RIM/Blackberry or Nokia could compete. People refuse to wait a long time now. In some cases both Apple and Android have continued to push the envelope with both hardware and software coming out in less than a year. For a couple of years it was up to twice a year. In the name of increasing market share, the marketing gurus just pile on the consumer and make presentations that try to convince the consumer how much of a need you have for the latest gadget and gear.
Some companies make it seem like it is inconvenient to wait and that you should expect instantaneous connectivity anyplace and anytime
Apple and Microsoft have pushed that angle to the max with the idea of an integrated ecosystem where all your gadgets, as in the case with Apple, are all connected to the “cloud” and you can harness your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop to that same “cloud” and work on your files anywhere and anytime that you have access to WIFI. There are those of us who never imagined that it would become what it is now. Our lives move at a rapid pace already and all these companies can think about is increased market share and how to convince you that you need more of what they are pimping and selling. Instead of making life better, and slowing it all down a bit, it is increasing the pace to the point that you either will crash and burn, or you will so over-extend yourself in the digital world, that you won’t be able to tell the difference between the digital world and the “real world”.
Unlearning the perceived need for more technology, and finding the right use of technology, and re-learning the concept of waiting
So for me, and with all my rants about Apple, and technology, I confess that I love technology and the appropriate use of the technology that makes my life better and safer and more productive. The only problem I am finding, is that there are many who cannot distinguish between what is appropriate and what is an inappropriate use of technology. Just because we develop technologies that can be beneficial for mankind, it is in how that technology is used that defines whether or not it is a good and appropriate usage of technology. On a personal level, Lori and I waiting a long time before getting cell phones. Some people would laugh at this but it took us a long time to justify the expense.
Perhaps that is the point of how to cope with living in this postmodern culture. We need to discern and evaluate and justify the need and the expense and learn to live within our means. Just because something is “new” doesn’t mean what we have is “old” and needs to be replaced.
On a more personal level, learning the art of waiting
On a more personal and intimate level, there has been a need for me to learn the “art of waiting.” I have learned that there are all kinds of facets to the concept of waiting. Waiting is an active verb. The Merriam Webster Dictionary has defined “wait” in this way. It is a transitive verb, with the primary meaning of to stay in place in expectation of, such as wait your turn. As an intransitive verb, it means to remain stationary in readiness or expectation as in to wait for a train; to pause for another to catch-up – usually used with up; to look forward expectantly, as in waiting to see his rival lose; to hold back expectantly, as in waiting for a chance to strike.
So I have had to learn to wait, both in a culture and society that has made the very idea of waiting a contrarian concept to progress. All our technology and all the cultural analysis points to instant analysis and examination, to make decisions on the fly, rather than waiting appropriately. When you have things happening and affecting you, that are outside of your control, it makes the idea of waiting a very difficult thing to grasp and embrace.
My health issues has caused me to learn to wait
My own more defined health battle, of now fighting male breast cancer, has taught me the importance of waiting. I am not in control of much. I am pretty well only in control of how I choose to respond to given situations. At the end of the day, I have come to realize that we live in a delusional society that is in total denial of death and in total denial of the fact that we do not control very much at all. We can at times initiate actions, but it is beyond ourselves to sustain those actions, and even beyond us to see them come to the appropriate conclusion. We can proximate, evaluate, adjust course, but we cannot fully determine the outcome of anything, never mind our life and death situations. We live as transitory human beings who are affected by all kinds of situations, all kinds of people, and all of that has a bearing in how we progress through life.
All I can do is gauge where my heart is, where I see God in the situation, and what is the best decision at the time. That is all any one of us truly has. It is reduced to that simple equation on how we choose to live life effectively and purposely, to the honor and glory of God, and those who choose to walk out life with us.
I have found comfort in the Christian Scriptures and the body of Christ
I find it intriguing that my devotional reading the Scriptures has remained constant during this time. My wife and I read the Bible together and have the Eucharist together and pray together. We also read and pray on our own as well. These have become cherished times of communion and connection. I have found the Scriptures to speak life into my spirit and to bring relief and comfort to my soul, especially in these difficult times.
Isaiah 40 [The Message]
2 Corinthians 1 [The Message]
3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
Psalm 40 [The Message]
1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God.
At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.
2 Corinthians 4 [The Message]
16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
Psalm 27 [The Message]
Romans 12 [The Message}
Colossians 1 [The Message]
9-12 Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
Not only have I found comfort in the Lord but also in the Lord’s people
I am thankful for ROL (River of Life) in Kitchener. They have taken Lori and I in and made us feel welcomed and that we belong, and that we can and should share our life journey together. It is most difficult to journey through life on your own, or with a tiny circle of family and friends. When God told Adam in the garden, “it is not good for man to be alone”, He was not kidding! Throughout Scripture believers in God, in both the Old and the New Testaments are called to walk with God and with other people. When you find yourself in a place where you just fit and belong, you know you have found a rare treasure. I do not take this place lightly, and I treasure the relationships that are developing and growing there.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus, who addressed the character traits and practices of God followers and how they treated others. Jesus said in Matthew 25:
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
At ROL (River of Life) I have found a people that attempt in all they do, to demonstrate a loving and gracious heart to whomever they encounter. They have been like that will me since I first got there in April. Lori and I have been embraced and encouraged and ministered to. It is good to be in a place that attempts in deliberate ways to live out the way of Jesus. It is good, very good. This fellowship has become family to Lori and I. They have loved us and accepted us and taken us in. Our sense of belonging is a tremendous blessing. These people have rallied around us, prayed for us, wept with us, ministered to us and spoken words of live over us, in forms that have been rare over the last two decades. These people genuinely love and extend grace to others. I am fortunate to be sharing my life journey with people such as these.
So, as I wait, I wait and I am not alone in my waiting. The “River People” are waiting with me and are sharing life with me.
So here I am waiting for the medical team to make a decision on the procedure we will follow from here on out. I am waiting patiently with my family and I am trusting in God to walk with me through this valley. Jesus has not abandoned me. I am resolved in my heart to love Him and trust Him. I am resolved to be there for my family and that God will give me the strength of heart, spirit and body, to do the things I need to do, for my wife and my children. They are waiting with me. We are waiting and we are trusting God every step of the way.
As much as I waited a long time for new technology, when Lori and I got new cell phones, we got them at the proper time. They have been an incredible blessing during the last couple of weeks. In my waiting, people have reached out to me, texting me, or calling me, and I have been able to take the call and to receive a blessing from people who care for me.
Sometimes technology becomes a part of the journey of miracles that life unfolds in front of us. We just need to walk it out, in sync with the Spirit of God and the others who are walking the same path.
So I continue to wait, and continue to develop perseverance and faith, as I wait. These things are beyond me. As I said, I can only control my response to this situation. Therefore:
- I choose to wait on God, and choose to trust in God and that He knows what He is doing.
- I choose to wait patiently, and trust my physicians who have my best interests at heart.
- I choose wait and to walk an open and free life with my wife and children and share my journey, both the inward one (Kingdom of God) and the outward one (healing journey with the physicians).
- I choose to wait and walk the path of shared fellowship with ROL (River of Life), and to share all of what God is doing in this journey with them.
- I choose to wait, moment by moment, and to live my life as full as I can and embrace each moment along the journey.
- I choose to patiently wait in a spirit of gratitude, and to be thankful, even for the pain, for in the pain, I know that I am alive, and I know Jesus is with me, in my pain and in my sorrow and that I am not alone.
In my waiting, I know that God is there with me, each breath, each moment, and we are sharing this journey together. He continues to reveal His heart for me. He continues to uphold me. He knows He will find me waiting for Him in the River, even when I don’t feel or sense Him, I will choose to wait for Him.
One of my friends Rebekah Prince sent me two Scriptures.
Isaiah 41 [The Message]
Oh, did I mention the waiting? Waiting can be a wonderful gift and should never be minimized.