Monday, March 7, 2011


Another meditation on a verse and theme I've already used; that's the beauty of reading the psalms over and over--new connections are made!

 But I call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice.
Psalm 55:16, 17 New Revised Standard Version

One of my friends complains that I complain far too much; another, perhaps more like me in temperament, considers a well-turned complaint to be a piece of performance art. I have told the quilters at church they have two options: I will complain if I don’t have work, or I will complain if I do have work. There is, as I have often said, no pleasing me. Even so, I consider all this as simple kvetching; I am generally a happy person.
            In the midst of all my complaining, however, I’ve realized an odd thing: I don’t complain about cancer. It simply is, the way dandelions are. Some people fret about dandelions and try to exterminate them from a perfect lawn; others see great beauty in the “lionsheads.” I know people who are grateful for their cancer and for its effects in their lives. I can’t get there myself, though there are sub-categories for which I am grateful, such as skilled and kind medical professionals and advances in medicine that mean I don’t have to die right now. But if I could pull out the cancer by its roots and do something to make sure it never returned, I would.
            I’ve noticed that I downplay cancer and its effects. This is not heroism, but a dislike of being fussed over—except of course on occasion and only in the way I want it to be done. (My friend Liz’s poached eggs come to mind.) I don’t complain about cancer, because doing so is a waste of energy. The cancer is utterly unaffected by my words—unless of course my gynecologic oncologist is right, and survival can be predicted based on attitude. I do not intend to give cancer a greater toehold based on my gloominess.
            Still, some days I am gloomy about nearly everything to do with my cancers, and some days I am simply angry. The beauty of God is that God is able to handle these emotions as easily as those related to joy or praise. God is interested in my total self, complaints and all, even if I come three times a day, as the psalmist wrote, and moan about my lot in life. God cares about honest communication and openness. God is big enough to handle the negative emotions that cancer and other difficult facts of life can produce. So when I am ready to complain about cancer, it is God to whom I can go.

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