Past – Present – Future

While day-to-day life can be very difficult for everyone, I find the recent chain of events in my life, are at work on my mind. I wonder why that guy inside of my head keeps trying to get me to focus on the negative side of the picture instead of the positive one. When I get overwhelmed, or just plain old too tired or fatigued, my self-talk goes into overdrive and becomes a force that is too difficult for me to deal with.

Thank goodness, when I talk to some of my friends they tell me this is often a challenge for them too. I’m sure glad someone understands!

I’m not sure what anyone else has on their list right now, but this is what tends to play havoc on my mind during this leg of my journey through life includes:

  1. Recurrence # 4 of cancer and its treatment regimens, both of which bring with them uncertainty to my life.
  2. All new doctors and the routine of getting tests run to determine my best course of action.
  3. A new treatment regimen (I have never had radiation treatments before and I just finished 25 of them).
  4. Not knowing the total results of the radiation treatments (they adjusted things in the middle of the treatments because the tumor was getting smaller).
  5. Facing new blood tests and a follow-up with my new oncologist to get the results of my treatments, and finding out when I start a new chemotherapy regimen that is in pill form.
  6. New episodes of seizures after having them under control since Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 9:15 p.m. The new episodes started on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. My most recent seizure was this week on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.I’m confident the first seizure was triggered because the tumor that going inside of my body became so large that it started causing pain. The pain kept me awake at night before the radiation treatment regimen got started. The one this week is most likely due to stress.When the pain started I was forced to stop my routine visits to the gym to participate in water aerobics classes. This makes it difficult for me to blow off the stress which helps me manage my life in general little lone all of the changes that I am facing in my life.
  7. The limitations placed on me because I am having seizures again. I am dependent on other people to drive me to and from any place I need or want to go.
  8. Retiring, because of my health, when I really didn’t want to. I have been on medical leave for several months and now my official retirement date is upon me.
  9. Trying to find a balance between “what I need to do for my sanity” and “what I can physically do with my medical situation.” Now that the pain is gone I am attempting to start a routine to get some exercise. It is trial and error. And, I have to force myself to remember what my doctors tell me, “Start low and move slow! Listen to your body and do what it tells you can do!”
  10. The costs of all of the medical tests and treatments that seem to be ever ending. They have been overwhelming for years, but in light of my new retirement earnings it’s a bit frightening.

With all of those things on my plate right now I decided that I “need” to study some of the information I learned a long time ago. It is also important to remind myself of the accomplishments I have already achieved in my life thanks to God’s grace, what I need to do right now, and how I am supposed to face my future.

I know this study will help me get things back in proper perspective, and perhaps help anyone else that reads this will also find it useful.

During my daily Bible readings I have been studying the book of Philippians written by the Apostle Paul. My study Bible has real good introductions to each book of the Bible. Let me take an excerpt from the prologue to Philippians as it sets a good reference point for me at this time in my life:

“The word happiness evokes visions of unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, strolling hand in hand with the one you love, being surprised on your birthday, responding with unbridled laughter to a comedian, or vacationing in an exotic locale. Everyone wants to be happy; we make chasing this elusive ideal a lifelong pursuit: spending money, collecting things, and searching for new experiences. But if happiness depends on our circumstances, what happens when the toys rust, loved ones die, health deteriorates, money is stolen, and the party’s over? Often happiness flees and despair sets in.In contrast to happiness stands joy. Running deeper and stronger, joy is the quiet, confident assurance of God’s love and work in our lives – that he will be there no matter what! Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Christ.”

In the margin beside this text I have written: JOY! Quiet, confidence, assurance of God’s work in my life—God’s love for me. I want more than anything to live a life that models what I believe down deep inside of my heart and soul. I want to live a life of joy because in the end that’s what really matters!The lessons I have learned from the text include:

How I am always supposed to do to cope with things in my life

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:4-7 – NIV)

What I am supposed to do with the past

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 – NIV)

What I am supposed to do with the present

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:13-14 – NIV)

What I am to do with my mind and my self-talk

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 – NIV)

The result I can expect when I do the right things for the right reasons

4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:4-6 – NIV)

As I meditate on these things I realize that I am to hold onto the past experiences in my life, to remember where I have been, and what God has brought me through.

When I was younger it wasn’t a priority for my family to visit the cemetery because our church taught that the person wasn’t really there. Over time this didn’t seem 100% correct to me. So one day my father and I talked about this and he told me that perhaps he should have placed more emphasis on visiting the cemetery because it gave us a chance to remember; and, he went on to say, that remembering isn’t a bad thing.

Daddy also taught me the lesson that, “No matter what happens, life must go on!”. I think that is what the Apostle Paul was teaching in his writings. We need to learn from our lives and use those lessons to move forward in the proper way; learn and mature, and keep on going.

The only way I can deal with the negative thoughts in my mind is to do exactly what I am taught in these verses of scripture. James reminds me that I must ask for wisdom from God and when I do he will give it to me. And, no matter how I feel (emotionally) I choose to believe that God will honor the promises he has made to me in his word.

I used to have the following verse on my desk at the office:

8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (New King James Version NKJV)

When it is all said and done, and when I get to the bottom of my emotions, I always try to come back to this scripture. Because, after all, this is the only command I can count on to help me realize my part is so small compared to what I often feel like.

It’s so easy, but as I do with everything in my life, I always over think things and to take on more than I can handle. That’s why this verse was sitting on my desk for years. It helped me bring things back into perspective when I got stressed out. It helped me remember to say a prayer and ask Jesus to help me overcome the problem or problems I was dealing with at the time.

One other thing that I think about all of the time is one of the things my father taught me long ago: “Don’t worry about things just take them as they come because over 90% of the things you worry about will never happen.” This is where my self-talk comes in so I need to take control of it!

Now things are in focus again.

The scriptures were found at:

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