Sunday, June 19, 2011

Choose your attitude

Wow, what a couple of weeks it has been. I have not gone longer than 12-20 hours with out getting sick, and I have battled constant nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. We were given an entire week to vacation at a beautiful lodge and I wasn't able to enjoy much of it. I've been in and out of the hospital twice. I've lost quite a bit of weight among other things.

It has been a difficult time. I'm hopeful that I'm starting to come out of it. All the doctors seem to agree this is just part of the chemo and nothing more serious. Thankfully my blood work, and counts, and hydration were all healthy at the hospital.

In the midst of all this I have had to make a choice. Will I choose to focus on my circumstances and all the things that seem to be going wrong, or will I choose my attitude and stay positive? A long time ago I somewhat learned how to choose my attitude and stay positive and focused in the midst of difficulty.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I got moved up to the varsity basketball team. This was something I had worked hard to achieve for many years. I was excited and anxious for our team to do well. That was short-lived. We went 0-21 that season. In the course of that kind of losing streak you will encounter every possible way to lose, distraction, and difficulty. I had to battle upperclassmen for my starting position, had a difficult coach, we lost team chemistry, had bad refs on some nights, and everything else you can imagine went wrong that season. 

Every practice and every game night I showed up ready to work hard and expecting to compete if not win. I knew we were not a good team, but I chose to believe that on any given night we could come out of this slump and turn it around. I had to choose to be positive and kind with my teammates. I had to choose to run my sprints just as hard as I had in pre-season. The only thing I could control that season was my attitude and how hard I worked.

With cancer the only thing I can control is my attitude. I can't control if the chemo is working. I can't control my side effects. I can't control much, but what I can control is so important.

One of my favorite Bible passages for dealing with adversity is Romans 5:3-5

3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Another way of saying it is, "rejoice in your suffering". Wow God? Really? Rejoice. That's the last emotion I have right now. Fortunately God isn't calling me to feel like rejoicing, because I don't. He's calling me to rejoice. Which requires a decision, a choice in the face of difficulty. The promises are rich however, as suffering leads to perseverance, then character, and finally hope in Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit. 
Just how to we make this decision? 

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

God promises us that if we know Him, He will give us everything we need. Everything, including the ability to remain joyful in the face of difficulty. It is not through my own strength or depth of character that I stay positive. It is through the power that God grants me through my knowledge of Him.

So whatever you're facing today, remember that you don't have to face it by yourself. When everything feels like it is out of control, there is a lot that you can control. 


Charlie Reid said...

Thanks, Ryan. Always a great reminder. There are limited things we actually control, but the most evident is our attitude. Your attitude has been an encouragement to me and I am sure there are many others like me.

Jeremy Prudhomme said...

I still remember you going out and practicing basketball in the rain after we lost all 5 of our games in that AAU tournament! Thinking back on it I also believe we are insane because we lost almost every game we ever played at Hart and you believed we could/would win every one. That is perseverance! The great thing is that you are dominating this game and you inspire the rest of us as your hope is not determined by your circumstances. I am extremely proud of you as my brother and a brother in Christ. You teach me so much everyday as you go through this. Love you man and I hope you are strong enough to go out in the fishing boat in 10 days!