See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
I’ve always been a man obsessed with the plan. I’ve always been hateful of change. The reason for this is the simple fact that nobody changes what they’re doing for a good reason.
So when my little sister sent me a text to tell me Mom wasn’t heading home, I knew something was off. I called my older sister to see why Mom was staying at her house in Phoenix instead of going home as planned.
“It’s cancer,” she said.
They needed to do more tests and see what was going on, but they new it was cancer.
I talked with my older sister. (I have several of those. I’m speaking most specifically about my next oldest sister.) Then I got a hold of my dad, the man who’d already lost a brother and a mother to that same monster. I really hate cancer. I’m going to go on the record as saying it’s bad.
My dad is Superman. He’s calm, cool and collected. He always knows what to do. He always knows how to handle a situation. I can’t say I’ve ever actually heard or seem him cry, but that phone call was the fourth time I’ve ever heard his voice crack, and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do when Superman himself is struggling. He held it together.
“It’s just another bump in the road,” he told me, repeating what he’d told my mom. Like I said: Superman.
I got a hold of my brother (that older sister’s husband). In a matter of hours, they made room in their house, got everything set up and made sure my mom would be comfortable. They didn’t even blink. All they did was focus on making their home comfortable and inviting. My brother and I stayed positive. We both still felt (and feel) that everything would work out.
I, unfortunately, was having this conversation over the phone while standing in an H & R Block waiting for an appointment. I didn’t care. When I hung up after that last phone call, I got down on my knees, put my elbows on a chair, and prayed.
“Heavenly father thank you and praise you for how generous and strong my family is being. I’m scared now, and it’s hard to fight through that fear to remember I’ve surrender this problem to you. Lord I’m reminding myself that there is no problem you can’t solve. There’s not disease you can’t heal.”
I don’t know if anyone watched. I didn’t pray out loud. I whispered the words, reminding myself that God has a pretty good habit of healing sicknesses. He’s even brought people back from the dead (I can count five right off the top of my head).
They didn’t have a lot more information, and I was too shell shocked to do much more with it. All I wanted was to do my crummy taxes. All of these events happened over the course of about four days, and each of those days dealt a new blow. Adding that to the list of what now seem pathetically hilarious other issues just felt like a new test.
So I reminded myself: The more afraid I feel, the more I’m hit, the more I’ll praise God, the more I’ll trust him.
It was hard to do it, but I did, and a week later, I’d see some of the results of that trust.
Questions and Revelations
How hard was it to pray in public like that?
Not hard at all. I wasn’t thinking about my pride or what people would think. I thought, “Hey, I’m in a pretty big pile of doubt right now, and I made a promise to God.” I honestly wasn’t the least bit concerned with what others thought. I was honestly more concerned with how I’d react if anyone felt like challenging my freedom of religion at that exact moment.
A brief tangent: I gave real thought to the question of if people would react to my praying as I typed this post. Here’s the thing: Why is it okay to march and protest in anger, but a guy can’t pray in public without making folks uncomfortable? I could have written a sign, started shouting, and I probably would have had ten or twenty people out there shouting with me.
Why are we more willing to show our outrage at life than we are to show our faith in God? I don’t have the answer to this question, I’m honestly asking you, the reader. Those who follow my blog know exactly how much I love the First Amendment. But that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
But how often do people take what they want from that, and then use it against itself? One possible reason people get uncomfortable? Probably those using religion to speak out against things. The Bible is pretty clear on things that offend God. I’ve seen protests on a few of them. I listen to people speak out and talk about how people who do X are doomed to go to Hell. Funny thing is, I’ve never seen a protest against lying. That is an actual Commandment, but no one is out there shouting or warning people they’ll go to hell for it.
My theory on why: Everybody lies. It’s awful hard to shout out and condemn people for the things they do themselves. It’s awful easy to talk about the sins only some people do, the ones statistical minorities take part in. But that judgment and hate is pretty hard to muster up. Then, all of the sudden, we want to talk about God’s grace and forgiveness because those people, those who only commit the sins everyone else commits are somehow more deserving of God’s grace and forgiveness than those other, more egregious sinners. I just read about David. God loved him. God made him king over all Israel. Then David murdered a man just to sleep with the man’s wife. Why will you never see me using God’s judgement as a platform for my protest? Because all sinners are deserving of God’s sovereignty, and I’d rather not draw more attention to myself.
Sin is sin people. This creates an argument that divides from God. Some who read this will think I’m wrong because people should warn about sin. Some will argue I’m right to call others out. I’m not trying to create another fight. But I’d rather proclaim God. Praise him publicly and worship him. All sinners deserve his sovereignty, I get that. But I’ll leave it to God to judge. I’m going to love my neighbors and praise my God. Does that make me ignorant to the things The Bible says is wrong? Does it make me disagree with the stances of some of those protestors? No, but it just starts a fight. Those fights are the very things that divide when what I want us to do is unite.
I don’t intend to pray publicly every single day. I just don’t feel any shame over doing it when I feel it’s appropriate: Grace, hearing my mom has cancer, and before the 49ers play.
Did anyone say anything?
Nope. I’m certain I was obviously shaken and upset. I play poker well, but that’s about the only time in life where I don’t over-express my feelings. I didn’t break down and cry, but I wanted to. However, I was clearly emotional. Blessings in disguise? That day, the tax folks were really backed up. They were worried I’d be pissed they wouldn’t help me at the appointed time. If I’m being honest, had I not received that phone call, I would have been. I would have probably barked and grunted about how people should do the things they’d said they’d do when they said they’d do them. I have a tendency to do that. But that delay (I think it was like three hours), was just enough time for me to call my loved ones, figure out what was happening, get my emotions under control, and even grab so food. Had they been ready for me, I’d have gotten that news right in the middle of the appointment.
Did you still really believe God would fix this?
I did and I do. As I type this, I’ve just finished reading 2 Kings 4. God, through one of the prophets (I can’t spell these names), brought a child back from the dead. To be honest, I’m seeing a ton of miracles in both the Old and New Testaments. I knew about Lazarus and Jesus, but God actually brought at least a handful of people back to life. The hard part for some might be believing he’d do so today, but why wouldn’t he? Now, does that mean he will? Like I said, I believe, but it’s his call. I’m just testifying as I swore to Him I would.
What kind of Caner is it?
I’m not sure at the moment. My dad helped me understand a bit when I called him a week later (which I’ll talk about in a few weeks). I’m trying to get details and learn more, mostly because I want to find out exactly which type of cancer I’m going to go after first in what’s become a personal vendetta against the disease. My intention is to use the proceeds of any sales of this memoir to fight that specific form of cancer.
Did you actually go through with the tax appointment?
Why wouldn’t I? If I trust God, then I should just live my life and handle my responsibilities, shouldn’t I? I’m of the opinion that had I freaked out and gone home and moped, that would be the literal opposite of trusting God. I was sad. I sent a quick message to a core group of friends who I knew would check up on me. I needed a few to get my mind together. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to go home, get in bed, and stay there until this was all over. The problem is, that wouldn’t have been me showing God I trust him.
I still refused (and still refuse) to be like those early Israelites who complained and shouted, “why did we do this” every time things got difficult. It didn’t work for them, so I have reason to believe it wouldn’t work for me. I continue to believe. I made up a few new catch phrases and took further measures to obey God’s will. I’m still convinced that is the way to save my mom. He’ll take care of her. That miracle (worked through people just as he’s done in several examples in The Bible), will happen; and this testimony will chronicle that miracle.
I get that you acted like you trusted God, but did you really just shrug and move on with your day?
I bet I look like that to a lot of people. The thing is I’ve always been able to compartmentalize. But I break eventually. I’ve broken five or six times I can think about just as I type this. Each time, however, I refocus and work harder to feed my faith and trust in God. Yes, I worry. I absolutely let that fear bring me to anger (which I’ll talk about next week, but I can only do so much. My plan was that if I kept acting and doing as I should, I’d gain confidence and peace as I went. Not to spoil any of the future posts, but it’s working. The more I trust, the less I worry. The more I trust, the more things start to happen in all the best ways.
If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog. I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.
Thanks for reading