The other day I referred to my cancer as “background noise” as I went about the business of living life. A friend had asked how I was doing. There was concern for me, concern for Nancy as we stand ready to enter a new phase of this journey. My answer surprised them, it surprised me.
Throughout life I have come to recognize that I often do some of my best processing or learning on the fly. I will speak my truth in the midst of a conversation and find myself returning to the comment again and again. Over time I come to see that what was spoken “on the fly” revealed something much deeper about who I am or what I was thinking.
The past few days I have found myself returning to this idea that my cancer is nothing more than “background noise.”
Irrelevant or incidental
The dictionary offers a couple definitions for background noise that I think would be helpful to think about. First, background noise: “a person or thing considered to be irrelevant or incidental to the main issue or situation.”
My cancer is irrelevant to the main issue or situation. The main issue is how I am going to live my life. To focus on cancer is to focus on death. I have made peace with the fact that death is inevitable. I am looking forward to that day when Jesus speaks, “Well done” and I experience true healing. Until that day I am focused on how I will live each day, cancer is nothing but background noise.
I refuse to make decisions for myself, my family, the church God has called me to lead based upon background noise. Working together we will discern God’s invitation for the future and then go boldly toward it.
The dictionary offers a second definition, background noise: “extraneous sound which can be heard while listening to or monitoring other sounds.”
There is much truth here as well. As we go through life there are these “extraneous sounds” which intrude into the day. Just this afternoon I was sitting in my office when the phone rang. It was one of the nurses from Penn Medicine calling to inform me that my insurance referrals had run out and I would need to renew them before my next visit. Extraneous noise distracting from what was truly important that day.
In a few weeks my schedule will change significantly. Every other Monday morning and early afternoon will be chemotherapy treatments. There will be nurse visits every Thursday following chemotherapy. Alternating Friday’s I will meet with my oncologist to talk about future treatments. All of this activity will be little more than “background noise” which will distract from living life well.
Dan! How can you say this? It is those treatments which are giving you life. No, my source of life comes from walking with Abba Father. I want to put on a good set of noise canceling headphones so I can hear him more clearly and eliminate all the “background noise.”
The symphony plays on
Here is my truth. I have moved through much of my life paying way too much attention to the “background noise.” When I sit down and think about all the things which have consumed my seasons of worry and anxiety it is embarrassing.
The vast majority of it was way beyond my control. I could not shape nor direct the decisions or actions of others. Circumstances, not of my making. All of it “background noise” that I allowed to move front and center and distract me from living well.
I suspect I am not alone in this. Each of us has some symphony of “background noise” clamoring for our attention. The louder it plays the more important or urgent we feel it must be. Our challenge is to find a good set of those noise cancelling headphones and move forward through life paying little attention to the noise which serves only to disrupt and disturb us.
Stage IV colon cancer is just the latest chorus of such “background noise in my life.” I refuse to let it define and shape how I live or what I do with my life.
Please pray I will be able to move through whatever this journey holds focused on what is truly important. Pray I will not be distracted by the “background noise.”
May God grant you the wisdom to hear the “still small voice of God” amidst the “background noise” of life.
God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good