Friday, September 19, 2008

vivendo discimus

I don't want to write this post. Really. It's been better than a week since I actually realized I did not want to write this and it's been nagging me ever since. I'm ashamed of my reason and I'm afraid I will alienate some of my friends but it is my responsibility to say what I'm about to say no matter how afraid I am to do it.

This started off as a more convenient way for me to share what was happening to me. As I said then, managing multiple email chains would have been difficult at best and impossible when I got worse as expected. Now it's a bit of a sounding board and a punching bag for me to just get some things out. This has been needing to come out for a while now and, in struggling with the problem itself, I'm struggling to have tried keeping it to myself out of fear of disappointing anyone else.

Realistically, I am doing much better that just a few months ago. I'm still having troubles from time to time and they're still frightening me too easily into doubting I can do much at all. I'm fighting to do fun things like fly away for a racer/driver coaching seminar, or spend a day at the track, or even just muster up enough within me to enjoy dinner with friends or a movie with Jody. As anxious as I am to get back to meaningful work, I am scared about what next Monday brings me in terms of balancing my ability to be effective with the need to spend more time than others in the bathroom. It's embarrassing and it crushes my spirit at times.

Which leads me to my knees, sometimes literally but most times in just a quiet desperation. I'm worn out. I don't know how much more I have left to wear away. I feel like the brakes on my car; able to get by but not without a bit of noise near the end squealing a little louder for attention.

And the trouble there is, the reason I am afraid to have said more to anyone other than Jody or my family, I'm not feeling like this is doing anyone any good. I clearly remember praying and, though scared, acknowledging my faith that God wouldn't have allowed me to be thrown anything I could not handle. I prayed that my faith would increase because the challenge certainly would. Through radiation and chemo and surgery and chemo and surgery again I felt buoyed.

And then chemo started again and the second round destroyed me. My hope drained away faster than ever. All that while, little Brie lay in the hospital and I could not visit her because I had poison escaping through my skin. I prayed she would be okay and was thankful for all of the miracles that seemed to have put her in the absolute best hands she couldn't have possibly planned or even paid to be more right. And my hope was obliterated when she died. Though I've been coping with that and am still finding acceptance, there has been an insidious want inside me that has aggravated the anger I have over my own disease and made me arrogantly call it a need.

It's been a desire, a temptation really, to want to know why. Why has this happened to me? At the beginning I had a real sensation that this was a test of my faith and being around others and sharing through the blog would be a way God would show Himself to others. And that gave me hope at the time. A year later I'm tearing myself apart wanting my part in the decision of whether or not all of this, me suffering with cancer and life afterward, is worth it... worth going through if it's just to be an example to others.

I'm just starting to scratch the surface of that and this post, as much as I'm afraid to make it, is what I think has to come. You see, I'm not perfect. My faith and what I believe do not make me any better nor worse than anyone else. They do not protect me from disease or hard times and do not make Life all teddy bears and rainbows. And just as Life can be tough for me, Life is also tough for everyone else. Which brings me to one fo the requirements of being a faithful person... this... relating to other people and sharing my experience... even when it's been hard and I feel like I'm failing to be a good example of how a believer faces rough times in Life.

I was reading a thread on a message board in a discussion of whether or not Creationism or Intelligent Design, the belief that the universe was created by God, should or should not be taught in public schools. The argument was familiar; that evolution was the only scientifically provable angle and should be the only curriculum taught to today's children as opposed to an unproven fairy tale of sorts.

I added my own personal take on the debate by saying this, "Personally, I revere science, the scientific method, and curiosity as a motivation for greater knowledge and understanding. I also happen to believe this quality was a gift from God. My faith is reinforced every time the tiniest new discovery is made. There is no scientific fact that will shake my faith. There is no scripture that can deny me the wonder, the enjoyment of discovery. I've got cancer. If there is an experience in life that could destroy my faith or express my disappointment in science, this is it."

For the record, it was in an off-topic forum of one of the BMW boards I read. ;)

What has shaken my faith though is this overwhelming wish to know why this has happened. I'm starting to realize that I may have gotten it right at the beginning and it's happened because it's supposed to speak to someone around me. What is it supposed to say? I'm not entirely sure, but I think part of it may be simply to demonstrate that a faithful man is not free of anything good or bad in Life. I think it may also be saying belief is not some easy choice for the lazy or the unintelligent man.

And the more I think about that, the more I'm okay with it because helping other people is something I think we all feel good about. I know it satisfies me even if I've been a little too anxious to get back to work; the last place I really felt I was being helpful. So while I'm afraid to admit I'm struggling in my faith, I will anyway because it may be helping you.

And to me, that is worth it.

vivendo discimus - by living, we learn


tinkknitz said...

So am I to understand you just now discovered that you are mortal? Geezy Peazy John, lighten up on yourself. That whole "God doesn't give us anything we can't handle" thing is a bit over stated I think. He's a busy guy and gave us brains(hopefully), tools(like medical stuff) and good sense(yup!) to let us make the most of one of his great gifts. Free will. I think He trusts you to make a few good calls.

Find a copy of Desiderata and read it:

You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Jana G said...

John you have helped people you don't even know through this blog. I know that friends of mine going through cancer treatment have found your wit, humor and faith a constant source of spiritual uplift.

It sucks and it will continue to suck, but it need not drain you of your faith. (and, coming from an agnostic that says something!)

Frank D said...


how could you not have doubts or question the path intended for you? Jesus suffers each anxious moment with you while holding you up at the same time. You are revealing God's glory each day through your actions, your unique human experience. There has never been another like you, nor will there ever be, same as with all of us. Every second of your imperfect earthly life brings Glory to God and reveals him to everyone who knows you.

God bless you

Frank D

Lynn said...

John - I don't think anyone in your position wouldn't have doubts....wouldn't wonder "why me?"....wouldn't want to know, "where is God?" You just have to have faith that He is with you and will comfort you on this journey.

Richelle and Johnny said...

Where are you Cousin Sco?!
I'm a faithful reader of your blog:)
I hope all is well.

Anonymous said...

Your lengthly absense has be worried that you are no longer with us. Please post an update, even if it is to say, doing ok, working a lot.

Pam Gianni said...

Hi John, I am Paul Gianni's wife. Your blog really touched me.
Fortunately I've never had to deal with cancer, but God has walked me through some mind numbing and mind blowing experiences. What I learned is that true faith is one that has asked the hard questions.
We have problems when we run from God, not to Him. He knows our frames are dust.
He sees gold when he increases the pressure. The chaff rises to the surface, and we learn what we truly believe.
As we pray and meditate on God's word, we become closer to Him, and develop an intimacy we never knew possible but was always His goal for us.
It had to be cancer for you as it had to be abuse for me. God knows the exact right pressure to accomplish His purpose in our lives.
God Bless, my prayers are with you.

Steve Jarboe said...

John (and Jody),

Like the blog in general, this post has helped me.

Kathy & I love you guys very much even though we've not bee physically present very much at all (sorry about that). Hopefully soon we can correct that by visiting at least.

You really are the single most inspriational person I know (to me) given that I'd want to be like you in the face of adversity.

I've been reading your blog - ever since... It's really important ot me and obviously so many others so thank you!