BUILDING FAITH: A Journey from Death to Life (Second Excerpt)

Dear friends, please accept my aologies for the many errors in my first posting of this a few days earlier. I simply placed it on the website, intending to correct and repost. However, my allergies wreaked havoc on me quickly. In hardly being able to breathe, I forgot to go back in and update. I re-read it and I do think the meaning and language throughout was understandable in the previous post. Here’s hoping you’re allergy free and having a great summer! The first excerpt will remain on ths site. Herewith, the second.

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In the days following the cancer diagnosis, my life was a constant round of turmoil. How could I have cancer? I was a health nut. I spent a small fortune on vitamins, minerals and food supplements. And I took them all religiously. This together with proper sleep, rest, and relaxation. I had just successfully finished years of psychotherapy. My writing career was going well. Everything was coming up roses — or so I had thought.

Cancer! My mind fled back to my maternal grandfather’s colon cancer. His death from that scourge after two years of suffering still hit me hard, in spite of therapy. He had been my world. I still consider him the only one in my entire family who had loved me unconditionally until he died during July of my ninth summer. Even now, I feel cold as I write this.

I knew I was going back to avoid the present. You can’t deal with the things you refuse to face. So, I remember several years before when my basic physician was concerned about a module on my thyroid gland. He referred me to a specialist. When I had finally seen her months later, she told me it as a tiny thing and congratulated my doctor on being sharp enough to spot the nodule. She asked me to see her in a year for further examination. And if the nodule grew larger, to come back.

Even then, prayer was what I immediately thought of. I went home and began to pray with all my heart. At the time, I scoffed at the idea of talking with and listening to God. What nonsense! Pretty arrogant, wasn’t it, to think anyone could. But as I fervently prayed, I felt close to God, soothed and greatly comforted. Something good had to come from this. And something good did come from my prayers. After several months of intense prayer, the doctor said the nodule had disappeared.

Now my prayers seemed unreal. Was this because there as no cancer? I asked myself this many times. Certainly I tried to pray. Only murky thoughts ran through my mind. What could I do? Where should I turn. The only thing I heard was silence. Where was God?
Five months, then six passed and I began to feel really ill. My legs seemed to be giving away. I ate reasonably well, did my own housework, but I felt a general malaise and wondered if I were dying.

Then I rallied for a week or so and was jubilant at the feeling that the red clover extract was working. That, or I didn’t have cancer. Irritated with the on-again,, off-again sick feeling, I decided to see the surgeon the gynecologist had referred me to.

So i felt I had no reason to doubt that now the same thing would happen as with my thyroid. “Cancer, cancer, go away! Come again a never day,” I took to chanting at times, laughing as I did. Whoever said prayer didn’t work was a fool, I thought. But talking with God — abd listening to his voice was something else. I didn’t spend time thinking about it.

I said I am a health nut. I had books on staying healthy, subscribed to five health newsletter, read my newspaper’s weekly medical section. Oh, I was a wise old owl, I thought as I ordered red clover extract and began to take it with my heart singing, Of course I was anxious too, but I ate and slept well and stayed in good spirits.

That gynecologist never called again, but his female assistant called about ten days later and asked if I had seen the surgeon he recommended. I curtly said I hadn’t. Dd I plan to? She asked this with a sigh. At some point, i said I thought. The converation ended with her cautioning me against waiting and reminding that this was a very serious matter.

Then I began to feel worse. I had moved from D.C. to Silver spring, Maryland, to a plusher place and I liked it. Sure, something was missing in my life. Had alays been missing — through reasonably good friends- and relationships, a modicum of success were all pleasant.

My mind wasn’t cooperating. I, and most who knew me, had doubted I could survive well outside of therapy. I could get it together well and got compliments from therapists on how great my insights were and how well I put it all together. I felt good about being free and on my own, as my therapist had advised. Things were going well. Then why did I feel so sick? My legs were weakening and I dragged. A thorough physical found nothing wrong.

I’m not sure when I let myself stop denying I was getting sicker and sicker. So, swearing a little, i made an appointment with the surgeon the gynecologsist had recommended

I went in full of bravado. I was spinning. I’ve never felt happier, I told him. Everything was fine, and I wondered if the diagnoses was flatly just wrong. He was a highly regarded surgeon who listened superbly well. As I seemed to myself to float above the exam table, I chatted nonstop — about everthing. I was overjoyed to find that he had seen my best friend when she had cancer. But she had come to him too late. He complimeented her highly. And that made me feel closer to him.

I liked the fact that he suggested follow-up tests. Again, I didn’t feel ill at all now. I had gone back in time a very long way. I left with a singing heart. I couldn’t wait for a cancer-free diagnosis.

In the same laboratory where I’d had many cancer tests, I felt at ease chatting with a woman who had tested me many times before. But I couldn’t help noting that her reflective expression had changed and her breathing seemed shallower.

“Well,” I demanded. “Am I okay? Is anything bad going on?” When she didn’t answer for a moment, I asked, “What do you think? Am I going to need an operation?”

She nodded as she sighed. “Of course I can’t say for sure, but yes, I think you will need to talk with your doctor.”

I felt suddenly numb and cold as I looked at her sympathetic face. I left, went home in a taxi alone, and I remember very little about that trip, but I do remember being at home immediately afterward. There I went from terror at having cancer to fury. Fury at My precious God who had abandoned me. I have felt no bereft in my life! What the hell had happened?

Like Job’s wife advised him to do: “Curse god and die” I wanted to do the same. But I was afraid to do this. God was still God even if he had let me down miserably. I thought about the phantasies I’d always had from childhood. I would succeed bigtime — and then I would die! Everyone would be so sorry then at the terrible way they’d treated me. Well, was it going to be now? Or when? Nimbness soon replaced the anger.

I moped about, doing little, talking with no one. My partner had died eight years before, scalding in a bathtub in another city because the hot water water malfunctioned, spewing out scalding water. At 86 he slipped and fell as he tried to cut the water off. Taken to the medical facility of a niversity, he lived in a coma for only a day.

Of course I had a few friends I could have talked with, but there was no one I wanted to talk with. Then as I seemed to myself to be slowly dying, the surgeon called me one night and minced no words. “You’re going to die, you know. eventually, if you don’t have this operation,” he said.

I said I knew and thought. So was he going to die eventually. Did it really matter all that much?

But I made an appointment later that week to again talk with him. I’m not sure why. It seemed to me I really didn’t care. At 21, I began writing songs infrequently. I hadn’t written one in six years. But that weekend I wrote a gospel song, my first ever. Music came with the song which seldom happened.. I wrote it fairly quickly. It would need revision of course, but it was a lovely song. I called it, “Let’s Talk About Jesus.”

I’ve included that song as Exhibit A in this boook. And I do so because I now feel it had to be God’s hand in search of me, consoling and healing. I felt better in the days while I waited to see the surgeon for the second tiime. True, my legs were’t working well and I got a walk-aid from oour building and limpd about on it. But I didn’t so angry at God anymore, or I wasn’t as angry. My song about Jesus took a while to polish, and I sang it for several people who liked it. They complimented it highly.

That was a turning point. When I finally saw the surgeon in early December, it had been nine months since the cancer diagnosis had initially been made. The surgeon’s first words were, “You seem to feel much better.”

This surprised me because I felt quiet and very much within myself. Immmanent. I wasn’t terribly aware of him as I told him, “I’ve decided to have the operation. And I don’t care if you operate on Christmas Day.”

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In the third excerpt, I find that in the hospital, I begin to feel so much sloer to God when I wake up and find myself alive. Intense joy that lasted all through rehabilitation. A brochure the chaplain brought me called Faith Builderns. This is where the title of this book comes from. And from the day the song Let’s Talk About Jesus” began singing in my heart, I have gone steadily and more deeply into my relationship with God, with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

By now I know well that forgiveness, praying for those who have wronged you and loving them is how we heal. But that love is not a child’s craven love that hates when it is not returned. No, it a spiritual, grownpp love, a facsilimle of the love that God wraps us all in. Those of you who know this love know it is the essense of joy unlike any other we can ever know.

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