To Know Greg is to Love Greg

At 51 years of age I am not the picture of physical health I was less than 5 years ago and for this I am thankful. Why? Because it means I am not the driven man I once was.

In the not too distant past I was a hard driving, marathon running, accomplishment addicted, approval seeking shell of a man. Yet today, illness and all, I have never been more alive.

Walk with me and you’ll hear a cough rattle in my chest where a bumpy film of persistent cancer cells, once located in my colon, are now attempting to fill my lungs. Join me on a bike ride and I am certain to have to stop to catch my breath on the hills. Hills I once attacked yet in this stopping I am learning lessons, I am convinced, I couldn’t have learned any other way.

But know this…over the last five years I have climbed steep mountains. Mountains I didn’t even know existed – 61 rounds of chemotherapy, 15 rounds of radiation, numerous CT scans and surgeries. Each of these trials required me to pause and in so doing I have gained a different perspective on my one and only life.

To me cancer has been a gift because it has required me to do what I would have never done on my own – slow down. While I thought I was accomplishing a lot…in reality my former life, to some extent, was an exercise in futility.

In the past, I was afraid of not measuring up. Afraid of not having what it took. Afraid I would not impress. Afraid I would fail. Before cancer, I avoided speaking in public because I felt I had nothing to say.

Yet, after my experience with the suffering living with cancer has required, I am at peace with leading with a limp. It is becoming natural for me to share where I have fallen short and what I have learned along the way. Through this experience I have discovered real connections/relationships are formed when we are authentic and vulnerable not when we boast about our latest promotion.

Because of cancer, I have something worth saying because it’s really not about me anyway. One of my discoveries is the old adage, “when I am weak I am strong” is true.

Now, even as I struggle to breathe deeply, I am comfortable with the full breath of whom God created me to be. I realize I am not what I do—nor am I what I produce, what I earn, or even whom I know. It has been a breath of fresh air to know I do not have to perform or impress, it is much easier than that.

Today I have discovered my greatest successes come when I say yes to the still small voice I hear in my heart. The voice that tells me to stop and share a kind word or a prayer with a fellow cancer patient. This could occur in the infusion room, the grocery store, the DMV or a cardio rehab class. Candidly, when I say yes to the voice…that’s when my life becomes an adventure.

In the midst of saying yes to caring for others I have discovered we tend to make practicing the Christian faith far too complex.

If we would simply…

  1. Read God’s word daily.
  2. Pray (Listen more than speaking.)
  3. Do what God says (Through the still small voice.)

…then everything else seems to fall into place.

It is freeing to know I don’t have to impress or perform for God and I don’t have to excel at sin management; I can simply follow the example Jesus set and try to live as He did.

Life is easier this way—and far more healthy.

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