Disclaimer: Run-On Sentences and a couple words of profanity are to follow. You have been duly warned.
16 years ago today at the age of 21, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. My life changed forever that day.
I have written a lot about that day; and how it has changed me for the good and for the bad. I have a feeling I will write about that day for the rest of my life. Every day before that day and every day after that day has been a gift from God. He truly gave me the hope, the strength, and the perseverance to push through the whole cancer experience. Everything that is good, and noble, and honorable about me is because of what Jesus has done in me and through me. With that said, I want to concentrate the rest of this post on one small, but significant life lesson I learned on that day, that hinges not on God’s part of the experience; but on my part of the experience.
It has been said in more eloquent ways than I will state here in this post; but here it is: Much of your happiness and success in life will be determined, not by what happens to you; but how you respond to what happens to you.
There are some things in life...sadly, most of the things in life…that are out of the realm of your control. You do not control as much as you think you do. The quicker you learn this in life, the sooner you can start to learn the power of influence that you can wield in life.
It is important to develop the habit of taking the initiative in life...to be proactive. Much of life is yours for the taking, if you just put forward a little more effort, a little more elbow grease, and a little more enthusiasm in the endeavor that you have before your path than the other person you might find competing with you for that specific prize. Some times, it’s that easy; because many times people are too damn lazy and see a little challenge as being too damn hard. But I digress.
The mindset that we are able to administer to our daily lives is firmly within our realm of control. It can not be easily overstated how significant our mindset can determine our trajectory in life. So when we have moments in our day that we did not create or initiate, our only control we have is how we respond.
I may be over-complicating the simple; but I truly believe how we respond to even “minor” experiences can sometimes have significant ripple effects in life. I’m not talking about what side option you choose for your value meal at lunch; but the interaction you have with the woman at the drive-thru. You have no idea what kind of influence you can have on her life...and how it might inadvertently affect yours.
I think about the ripple effects of the choices I made on this day 16 years ago. I had no idea what they would bring...but neither did my medical professionals. If I took the pessimistic, victim-mentality, I could easily say that cancer and the choices I made that day ruined my life or at least the plans I had for my life leading up to that day.
But I can’t think that way...I choose not to think that way. Even though I have the thought in the back of my head (barring any unforeseen tragedy in my life) that the health complications I have developed as a result of my radiation treatment will play a role in how my life will end, I cannot...I will not let that be the guiding force in how I live out my life.
We are made for so much more than a reactive life that defines itself on what happens to us. I firmly believe my life has the chance to count for something...something greater than what I can accomplish on my own, in my own strength. I strive and I yearn to be able to invest my life into something that will outlive myself and truly have a lasting impact on the people I have the honor of being in community with.
Long story short is this: God loves you. God has a plan for your life. God wants to do a great work in you and through you. Life is a great adventure. Put your faith in God. Take risks. Invest into people. Give God the glory. Buckle up. And enjoy the ride!