I was having strange dreams last night. I can’t remember them, but whenever that happens I know that I’m worried or bothered by something. I know what caused it: FEAR. Fear of death, fear of leaving my young son parentless. What brought this on? Elizabeth Edwards announcement of her “uncurable, but treatable cancer.” I was upset by her news because I feel the pain that her family is going through. I lost my husband to cancer and I know what “uncurable, but treatable” can mean. And as I fear for the Edwards children, I fear for my own child. He only has one parent left, so I need to take extra good care of myself.
All this fear produces anxiety. We all feel anxiety. Anxiety about our jobs, our children, our lovers, our possessions, our health, and on and on. Sometimes it is so chronic in our lives that we don’t even notice it anymore. But it is there and it is a heavy burden to carry around …all day and for me all of last night. At it’s essense anxiety is fear of being out of control. What is the antidote to this?
A New Perspective on Hope
Elizabeth Edwards’ doctor spoke at the press conference and described “uncurable, but treatable,” and later I saw Dr. Nancy Snyderman on NBC Nightly News talk about looking at this from a different perspective. Uncurable means that she’ll be living with it for the rest of her life, much like diseases like diabetes. Treatable means that she can manage this disease and continue to live a productive life. How we define a situation makes it either an unbearable problem or simply a challenge to work on.
A Great Gift
One of the blessings when my husband was sick with cancer was the incredible appreciation for life we found on a daily basis. Small problems were no longer problems. Even big problems couldn’t bother us. You could find us laughing every day at problems that would turn most people inside out. Even as we knew his prognosis was terminal, we had some of our happiest days together during his last year. Want to know the Real Secret? The key to a happy life is to grasp this every day whether you have a terminal diagnosis or not. Because, guess what? We all have a terminal diagnosis.
Peace Amidst the Chaos
One of my favorite quotes goes something like this: “Peace is not about avoiding trouble, work and hardships. Rather Peace is the ability to remain calm in the midst of life’s challenges.” This is our life everyday. We have control over lots of things, and many things we don’t have control over. But the biggest thing we don’t have control over is the fact that we will die someday. Rather than running from that, we each need to find a certain peace about that. The way that works for me is to turn my worry over to God. I put my trust in God that he will take care of me, my son, my family, friends and the whole world for that matter. Boy do I feel a weight lift when I do that. I know that there may be times that I don’t understand why certain things happen, but when I trust in God, I find that the good emerges eventually.
Living the Lesson
So where can we implement this peace, this appreciation of life, the ability to really laugh at problems big and small? Here are some ideas:
- If you’re late and there’s traffic, let it go. Turn up the radio and enjoy. Laugh.
- If someone cuts you in line, tell them (in your mind) that they are welcome to go ahead.
- When your child spills his drink all over the dinner that took you an hour to prepare, laugh! Take it slow. Roll with the punches.
- You need to get more work done, you’re falling behind, your tense and anxious. Let it go. Plan and then do one thing at a time. One foot in front of the other. Let go of worry. What’s the worst that can happen? Find a way to laugh.
- You lose your house in a fire. What do you still have? Your health? Your family? Take things one day at a time. Ask and receive help.
- You lose a loved one? What do you still have? Life, memories, their spirit, other loved ones who still need you. Cry, grieve, but when you can find your smile amongst the tears. That’s how your loved one would want it.
- You’re told you have a terminal diagnosis. We all do. Only God knows the date and hour. Live today. Love today. Smile today.
Where will you find peace today? What will you let go? Big or small, please share your thoughts with this Learning Community! Peace to all.