Waiting is often period of pause or unwanted delay. I recently heard from a man diagnosed with prostate cancer. His surgery is scheduled ten days after Christmas. He wrote that he couldn't even think about the Holiday Season much less enjoy it because his thoughts are focused on his up and coming surgery.
I'd be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time I missed the opportunity to enjoy the present because my mind was focused on some worry, concern, task, or an event imaginary or real that I anticipated would occur at some point in the future.
As I write this blog, I originally planned to have a surgery for a penile implant in early January. Unfortunately, my surgeon was involved in an accident that required his hospitalization. As a result, my surgery could be pushed back until March. This is an unwanted delay that increases the amount of time I'll be living with erectile dysfunction, a chapter in my life I'd like to close as quickly as possible.
The challenge before me is: How will I wait? My temptation and habit is do exactly what the man who's waiting for his surgery is doing. His mind, his relationships, his capacity to experience love, joy, and excitement have all been placed on hold. He's checked out of living in the present, therefore he can't experience the joys that each moment can bring. His attention is focused on his surgery date. Therefore his feelings and attention are locked into all the anxiety and fear associated with his surgery. It would take no effort on my part to wait in a similar fashion.
Waiting associated with the diagnosis and treatment for cancer has the potential to become a never ending journey into the future. I've been there. First you wait for your biopsy results, then your surgery date. After that wait for your post-surgery biopsy results. Then you wait for the day your catheter is pulled. The next journey into the future is living for the day you no longer need diapers, then comes your first post-surgery PSA test, Three months later there's another one. Then you've got a year, two or three to wait to see whether or not your erectile abilities return. Four years later, I find myself waiting for another prostate cancer related surgery
There will always be something cancer related that can propel you into the future, thus robbing you of all the potential happiness, joy and love available to you in the present moment..
There's one important stop gap for me. It's the Advent Season. It's the time I spend focusing on my spiritual life and the joy of the coming birth of my Lord and Savior-Jesus. I don't want to miss out on the joy of the Christmas. I don't want to be so focused on my up and coming surgery, that my mind is else where when I'm in the presence of all my kids and their wives. Thankfully, I've discovered a healthy alternative to losing the present by living in the future with anxious anticipation.
It involves trusting God and experiencing one day at a time, with the knowledge and belief all things will happen according to God's plan. If you wait believing that you are waiting for future events to occur in God's timing, your time spent waiting can become a time for refreshment for your soul. This process is described in Isa 40:28-31
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. NKJV
Learning to wait on the Lord requires, first and foremost a belief that He exists. It also involves developing a sense of trust in His timing rather than your own. If it were up to me, I would have had my surgery yesterday or tomorrow. I'd prefer to end the era of coping with ED yesterday, rather than waiting for an unknown date in the future.
This unwanted and unanticipated wait for my implant surgery give me the opportunity to practice this new skill of waiting on the Lord. Sometimes I catch myself spending too much thinking about the surgery. Learning to wait in a new way doesn't happen over night. It takes practice, time, discipline, faith and trust.
It's a worthy goal to change the way I wait. I'm enjoying the fruit of this process during the Advent Season. If you're like me and have a history of waiting in such a way that takes away your joy of living in the moment, use your next experience with waiting to learn a new skill, Learn how to wait on the Lord.
Rick Redner is the author of I Left My Prostate In San Francisco-Where's Yours?
He's written more than one hundred blogs about prostate cancer.
You can visit his Pre & Post Prostate Surgery Forums at: Forums