Today I thought I would include some personal reflections, while hopefully making a practical point or two.
On Monday March 28, 2011 my wife, Heidi is going to have breast cancer surgery. The news is only weeks old to us. It came like a freight train out of nowhere. Without warning life’s perspective changed too. What I used to think was a fairly predictable future, now appears much less definite. Even though all we are doing is waiting for surgery, I am emotionally spent from educating ourselves and informing our friends. I find myself using strange new words to answer people’s questions (as if I have known my whole life what they mean); words like “survival rate,” “chemotherapy,” “alternative treatments,” “prognosis,” and “cancer types.”
Whether the – still unknown – road to recovery will be longer or shorter in nature…one thing is for certain, TODAY I HAVE TO GO TO WORK.
I find it hard to concentrate at the office these past days. Simple tasks have become a challenge to focus on. I lack the motivation and drive that I have counted on for years. How do people do this?
Here’s a growing list of little reminders I carry with me to work each day:
1. Release those burdensome daydream-what if-scenarios to Jesus. This builds trust and has one huge practical benefit – it calms my soul.
2. Get up and walk around at least once every hour. This refocuses and clears my head. Refilling my water bottle or coffee cup provides me with a good excuse.
3. Admit it won’t be easy. Anticipate the challenge, after all, my wife is at home waiting to rid her body of a cancerous tumor. Waiting and wondering.
4. Lie a little, it’s OK. A quick “I’m fine” is an adequate response to the 20th inquiry “How are you guys, really?”Not everyone needs to know all the facts or emotional details.
5. Watch out for denial. Pushing emotions down for days on end is extremely exhausting. Last week, I let down my guard and started to cry on a conference call with some of my closest team mates. It was liberating to do so.
6. Share appropriate information with my team mates. Keep them informed. Think of all the reasons why they deserve to know. Daily they amaze me with loving support and prayers. Help sometimes comes from the most unlikely places.
7. Pray often – take time to centre in on one truth – meditating on it changes perspective even if that same project is staring me down on the screen. Truth sets me free. I personally enjoy this one, “God is love.”
8. Finish something before lunch and then again before you go home. As corny as it sounds when life becomes unmanageable it can be therapeutic to empty the inbox or make that call back you have been putting off.
9. Schedule one healthy interaction with a good friend outside the office this week. I find this difficult to do when my head is filled with cancer chatter. These days my wife and kids easily become the most important objects of all my attention. Still I need to unwind too. I need to verbally process my emotions.
10. Keep exercising – even exercise seems more selfish than it did before. Yet a good jog or bike ride renew hope and resets my sense of resolve. I ran tonight!
Some say we must separate work from life’s reality completely. I don’t think that is at all possible.
Jesus you slept through storms. Then you got up and calmed the wind and the waves. I am asking you to do the same in my house and in the ministry seat I occupy at MB Mission.
How do you maintain focus at work when turbulent weather at home threatens wind and rain all day? (never mind tornadoes and hurricanes)