I have shied away from talking fully about my faith and how it has transformed through my cancer journey. I have always believed that faith is a very personal thing. I am reluctant to bring it up in a discussion first. I need to get over myself because it's such an important part of my journey. I have felt God calling to me three times this year and he is clearly using me.
When I was first diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2011, I was angry and bitter with God. I was mad, not for myself, but for the thought that I might be ripped away from my family. I was mad at the thought Emma might have to grow up with out her dad. How could I even begin to think this situation was remotely acceptable?
I stayed away from Mass. I stayed away from my friends from church. I avoided any mention of God. I certainly was not a faith leader to my family. I didn't have the spiritual strength to do that and deal with my feelings surrounding my cancer diagnosis.
I sat down with Father Dan after my 2nd cancer diagnosis. I wanted some insight to prostate cancer and I knew that he had some experience with that disease. During the conversation, he looked at me and frankly asked, "Are you angry with God?" Holy crap! How could I even remotely answer that?!? I was sitting in the priest's office. I couldn't lie and say "no" and I didn't want to say "yes" and commit blasphemy. I started to tear up, and a few seconds later the tears came down freely. He knew. "It's ok. He can handle it. He has strong shoulders."
I slowly started to turn back to God. I joined the Knights of Columbus. Well, they invited me. God was clearly working through Terry when has asked me to attend a meeting. This group of men exists to help the church and other charitable causes in the community. It gave me an outlet to exercise charity. I was able to focus a little less on myself and a little bit more on others.
In January, I went back to Mass. I listened. I really listened for a message. The gospel that day was from Matthew and told of Christ's walk along the sea of Galilee. He was calling to his future disciples. "Throw down your nets. Come! Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." What was God saying to me? What did he want. I thought. I prayed. I contemplated. I felt God was confirming my path. I was supposed to continue writing Napkin Notes and inspiring parents to join in. I was going to be an example for anyone that would pay attention.
Earlier this summer, I was in Mass. I was having a difficult time with life. My side effects were out of control and I felt awful. I was busy editing the book. I didn't feel like I was fulfilling my mission of inspiring parents to write Napkin Notes. Some of that was because it was summer and I wasn't writing many notes to Emma. As I sat in Mass, I clearly heard one message. God doesn't start something unless he plans on finishing. I took that message to heart and it fueled me. I was beginning to like this listening thing.
I was having a rough day. I had too much on my plate. Emma had a volleyball match at 5:30 at a neighboring high school. I needed to join a conference call at 5:30. I planned on leaving work right at 5 so I could drive to the school, take the call in the parking lot and rush into the match. I would hopefully get to see the last game. I was feeling pressured and I hate not being present for Emma's events.
I came to a stoplight and just let loose. I was so frustrated with my life. I couldn't handle everything. I started to pound on my steering wheel and prayed. "God, I need some direction and clarity. I have too much going on. I believe that Your mission for me is to foster Napkin Notes. If it's not, that's ok. But I need some direction and clarity, and I need it today." I had never prayed so directly. Not ever.
Three hours later my agent called with the news - In a preemptive deal, New Line Cinema was optioning the film rights for our book, Napkin Notes. How could I not hear this from Him? Even someone as dense as me could hear this.
I have been called. I get it. I am really ok with it. I know that my purpose has been chosen and I wholeheartedly embrace it. Pack. Write. Connect.
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