What has been mankind’s greatest breakthrough in medicine? Penicillin? Anesthesia? Stem cell therapy? This week my vote for STEROIDS!
After feeling terrible for the better of two months, my oncologist put me on 12 days of steroids and gave me a 2-week break in between treatments. By day three I felt human again! Everything is better with steroids! Except sleep. I haven’t slept a full night in the last 12 days. But with steroids, who cares! You feel like you can function on 4 hours of sleep a day. I worked. I walked. I hung out with people. I didn’t exactly feel like my old self, but the contrast to the previous months was awesome!
Today is my last day on steroids, and I understand why you can’t stay on them forever. I am getting a bit edgy. My work partner, Kristy, has graciously noted that I seem “a little less tolerant than usual” (a huge under-statement).
Yesterday a co-worker and I had a passing conversation in the men’s room. Alvin is the nicest guy in the office:
Alvin: “How are you doing today, Mr. Noblett?”
Me: “Pissed off. Maybe that’s not an inappropriate thing to say in the men’s room.”
Alvin laughed. “What’s up?”
Me: “The world isn’t spinning in the direction I want it to.”
Alvin: “But doesn’t it make life more interesting? I mean, wouldn’t things be boring if everything went like just one person wanted it to?”
Me: “Stay away from me!” (doing my best Clint Eastwood/Grand Torino imitation.)
Want to know what was wrong? NOTHING! Well, maybe the coffee was a little weak in the break room. But someone else made it, and it was free. NOTHING WAS WRONG!
And this leads me to the question: Did the steroids change my personality, or just reveal the flaws in my character? (I know the answer, and it’s not “The-steroids-made-me-do-it.”)
Why is gratefulness so fleeting in my life? I have so much to be grateful for. I have had 10 days of feeling good. I have medical evidence that God is answering your prayers on my behalf, and my cancer is shrinking. I have a life that most people wouldn’t believe – literally thousands of people are loving on me, praying for me, sending me thoughtful, personal cards, texts and emails. I am swimming in a sea of encouragement. So what’s my problem!
It’s Trump’s fault! (Sorry, that was my evil alter-ego, Clint, resurfacing again.)
It’s not Trump’s fault. It’s my fault. And it is only my fault. My revelation this week: Gratefulness is a discipline. It doesn’t happen by default. It requires intentionality.
Many who know me personally, also know my friend and work-partner, Kristy. Kristy is Victoria’s best friend, (and probably 100 other people’s best friend, too.) We have worked together for over 20 years – first at the church where I used to work, and now at CCHF. Kristy is my friend, and one of the most amazing people I know. One of the greatest joys in my life is the privilege of working with Kristy. (Everyone reading this who has ever met Kristy is “amen-ing” right now.)
I learned something about Kristy a few years ago. She shared with me that some years back she made a decision that every time she walked through a door, she would make herself smile. Every time. Every door. At home, at the office, in people’s homes, in stores. Every space she enters, she enters smiling. It was not her nature to do that. In fact, I think she made that decision during a particularly hard season in her life. She made herself do it. She was intentional. Eventually, it has become 2nd nature to her. It has changed the way people view her, and it has changed the way she approaches life. Her life has had a lot of pain and difficulty. Frankly, she has had a lot more trouble in her life than I have had in mine. But she is grateful, content, and genuinely joyful.
People who know her think of Kristy as wise, and we seek her counsel. I almost always ask her to help me draft communications when I need to have a difficult conversation. Kristy has saved my life a hundred times by helping me speak in a positive, constructive way – a way that reflects understanding and honor and gratefulness.
All that came from intentionality. Gratefulness, is a discipline, and one that I need to give myself to in this difficult season of my life.
The Bible verse that has most inspired my life is Matthew 6:33. “Seek first the kingdom of God…” It is written in a part of the Bible known as the sermon on the mount. Shortly after Jesus said that, in the same sermon, he said something that most of us have heard many times: “Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find.” So Jesus commanded us to seek the kingdom of God, and then promised that if we do, we will find it.
The kingdom of God is a tangible life-system that is opposite to the way we naturally do life. It is based on love, joy, peace, servanthood, and gratefulness. When Jesus told us to “seek first God’s kingdom”, he wasn’t sitting in church or in a temple. He was out in the country, with a bunch of blue-collar, poorly educated servants, who were described as “poor in spirit”, mournful, meek, hungry, and unaggressive. Jesus most often proclaimed and revealed the kingdom in places of need and brokenness and hopelessness. Finding the kingdom in unexpected places is like finding a treasure in a field, or discovering a pearl of great worth. I’ve been around long enough to know this joy over and over. If you have read my blog, you know that this has been a season of kingdom discovery for me – a season of great joy…and gratefulness. But I need to re-center. I want to be known for joy and gratefulness like my friend, Kristy.
Please pray for me this week. I have my last “BIG” treatment – the ones that have given me trouble over the past several months. I also have an MRI and appointment with the neurosurgeon, who will, hopefully, confirm that I have no brain tumors. And I am out of steroids. So I am on my own.
I still have cancer, and it is a bad kind. It is still trying to grow and kill me. I still need God’s complete deliverance. I am encouraged, and I hope you are, too. But the fight is not finished.
There is a beautiful story in the Bible about 3 of the tribes of Israel who were the first to conquer and settle the land God promised them. The other 9 tribes still had a lot of fighting and work left to do. So the 3 tribes made a commitment that they would not rest until all of their brothers were able to rest. What love! I am grateful for your willingness to fight this with me until we all come into “rest” together.
And as you pray for me this week, please pray that God will help me re-center and to know the joy and gratefulness that comes with discovering the King and the kingdom.