MIND AND HEART MATTERS: More teachers
The following is the concluding portion of an edited extract from an article written by Danny Verbov. To view his book go to http://www.aish.com/sp/pg/When-Your-Child-has-Cancer.html.
Lesson #11: Every Second Counts That’s what the IV drip showed me. I spent hours next to that thing so I can impersonate all the noises - when the bag is empty, when air gets caught in the tubes or when the battery’s running low. But every drip and every drop… is life. Even though the doctors knew the treatment for my son’s particular form of Burkitt’s Lymphoma, there is never any guarantee it will work. You still have to pray every drop flows exactly to the right spot, every single cell in your child’s body reacts as it should and every nurse does exactly the right thing at the right time. Any minor error in dosage could be critical. The Almighty gives us life with every breath we take. But we take it for granted. Remember Who’s watching you. Remember Who’s keeping you alive. With every single breath. Takeaway: The first thing a Jew does when he opens his eyes in the morning is to thank God for returning his soul to him and giving him a new day. Think about it. Then thank.
Lesson #12: Relationships 101 Just before we started the chemo, a wise man gave us two important pieces of advice: Do not cry in front of your child. Dress your best when you come to the hospital. Realize how much influence you have on your surroundings just by the mood you’re in or how you look. And the silver rule in human relationships: Just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t mean everyone else has to suffer. Your face is public property. The story is told of the late and great Rabbi Auerbach. On the night his wife died, he was standing in the hospital coping with his grief. Just then, one of his students noticed him and rushed over to tell him his wife had just given birth. The student was so excited he didn’t think to ask his Rabbi what he was doing there at that time of night. Rabbi Auerbach gave the man his fondest blessing with his usual smile, full of warmth and joy. And the student walked away beaming, completely oblivious to the fact that his Rabbi had just lost his lifelong partner. Takeaway: This is not easy at all. But if you can control your emotions, you will become a source of great strength to yourself and those around you. Put a smile on your face and try it!
Lesson #13: Take One Step at a Time When your goals or projects seem so far away, focus on the next step. It’s far more doable than trying to reach the final, seemingly so distant and impossible goal. This was clear to me as I spent hours at my son’s bedside listening to the incessant drip of the chemotherapy. Every drop had to reach the right cell and do what it had to do - gradually, drop by drop. We can only achieve great things in little steps. Small, consistent efforts. Every single day. Takeaway: Choose a goal you’ve been neglecting. What is the next little step you must take to propel yourself in the right direction? Take it. Today.
Lesson #14: Getting the Message Now, five years out of my son’s chemotherapy, I am able to see the good that came out of that situation. It didn’t take me five years to realize this, but sometimes it does. And longer. Suffering, stress and tragedy all have a purpose. It’s up to us to discover what that purpose is. God is sending us messages all the time. We have the choice of receiving those messages, listening and acting. Or we can ignore them, wallow in our grief and blame everyone and everything apart from ourselves. If God is all knowing, all powerful and all good, nothing just happens. There are no coincidences or accidents. Wrestling with suffering means seeing all events as meaningful. Living with this attitude enables us to see God’s guiding hand in our daily life. There is a principle in Judaism called “measure for measure,” which loosely means, “the consequence fits the action.” To help you figure out the message, God will often send it through a medium related to the thing you need to improve. No, it’s not always easy to figure out the message. And yes, we might interpret the wrong message. But that’s a lot better than ignoring it completely. Because if we ignore the message and attribute whatever happens to us to mere chance, we rob ourselves of potential growth and meaning and waste the opportunity to further develop our closeness with God. Some experiences may seem bad at the moment, because we lack the perspective of the big picture. Like a good movie, which leads us to think we know what’s going to happen in the end, only to surprise or shock us with the ending. The director simply had the whole script in his hands when he started. We don’t. Or like the flip side of an intricate tapestry, seeing a whole bunch of unconnected strands and threads. It’s only when we turn the cloth and see the completed artwork that we realize each strand has its place. So what’s the big takeaway from suffering? Well, when we strive to live with the consciousness that all events serve a higher purpose and are precisely what we need at that moment, we can slowly learn to recognize the true good that lies beneath every situation. Wrestling with suffering enables us to use every experience as a tool for elevation, seeing it as a vital, personal lesson and an opportunity to strengthen our trust in God’s unending goodness.
Know there is a constructive purpose and meaning to the difficult times you go through. It won’t erase the pain, but it can certainly make it easier to bear. And remember - if you woke up this morning, it could be a sign that God had enough faith in you to give you another day.
Peace, Love & Healing,
Bernie Siegel, MD
“Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking” — Marcus Aurelius.
We currently have a cancer support group the second and fourth Tuesday evenings of the month at Coachman’s Square at 21 Bradley Road, Woodbridge. If interested contact Lucille Ranciato at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-288-2839; or myself at email@example.com.