I’m done being embarrassed about my problems. I often make errors of judgement that take me places I don’t want to be, and I’m working on that. But I don’t care what people think as much as I once did. Everyone’s got the stuff, you know? If it’s a toss up between keeping up appearances, pretending I don’t need God’s grace because I’m so worked out, and looking like a loser because I need his grace like I need oxygen, it’s the latter I choose. With the grace comes Him. With me, I just get…me.
The God-shaped hole is not in the person who doesn’t know God and acts to relieve himself of his suffering. The God-shaped hole is in the one who does know God, yet never seeks to relieve another’s suffering.
In July 2003, I was diagnosed with aggressive Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. At stage 3B (there are only 4 stages, and B means it had begun spreading around my body) the tumour in my chest was as big as a saucer. My treatment consisted of three months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy. During this time, we had the wonderful opportunity to be supported by a church community who cooked my family hot meals most evenings and provided nothing less than amazing support.
However, there were times when I wondered what belief systems people limp around with, and about what was being preached in churches and printed in books about sickness and supportive care. For the information of those wishing to be a support to those with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, I offer the following. This list will be based on actual statements which were made to me either whilst I had cancer or in the months following my successful treatment.
Imagine what a musician, what a dancer, what a poet, what a painter, what a writer I’d be by now, if only, if only I’d never stopped every time I heard a voice say “Ah! That’s awful! For the love of God, stop it!” I wish that I’d remembered to say “Are you out of your mind? Of course it’s bad! Who are you – the friggin’ art police?”….and then just got on with it anyway.
Your passion has never died: it’s still with you, it’s still alive. It’s still your calling, and it’s still your dream. It’s still what you were born to do, and it’s still what you will be glad you did without compromise, whatever the cost. It’s not dead, and it’s not overdue. It’s coming.
The abundant life we are promised by our Maker is release from the indentity this Egypt has fashioned for us; fit only for producing consumables. But you, you, are an artist, you are a work of art. You were made to create, not just to make. You were created from an idea, not from a brick-mould. You are more than what you produce. Leave time. Time is where your dreams lie waiting to be realised.
The problem is not that we don’t know how to love people. It’s that we have this others mentality in the first place. Others has come not to mean other people, it has come to mean other sexual preferences, other religions, other genders, other ways of seeing and being which are different from our own. We look around us and see not one hundred people who need love and regard, but one hundred reasons not to love or regard people.
I want to tell those of you who don’t believe a person can be transformed, or that people don’t or can’t change, you need to come and see what God has done at my house.