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On Growth

I like to joke that Shane is growing a tumor and I'm growing a baby. Believe it or not, they have quite a bit in common--frequent bathroom trips in the night, needing naps every day, strange changes in our bodies. But in truth, what's growing most right now are our hearts and spirits, especially Shane's.

Shane and two wonderful friends, Jose and Alex.

Shane and Jose had a long visit this week. These visits with close friends are the absolute best and the hardest; they lift his spirits, pass the time like nothing else, and they're utterly exhausting. But he chooses the fatigue because these connections are so meaningful.

I listened in to some of Jose and Shane's conversation as I prepared my lunch, and at one point Shane was describing the growth that cancer has brought. He pulled his hand through the air in a straight line to demonstrate the first 47 years of his growth (stable, nothing spectacular). Then, he zoomed his hand up toward the ceiling to show the growth that has happened in the past month (exponential and rapid). As a constant bystander these past few weeks I am in absolute agreement, Shane has grown by leaps and bounds.

A dear client once told me that, "Money is a magnifier. Wealth makes you more of who you are." Meaning that if you were stingy before the wealth came along, you likely be stingier after it arrives. If you were generous before the money, you will be more generous after. I can see now that cancer is the same---it makes you more of who you truly are. It can magnify weaknesses and strengths, but it also provides the rare opportunity of a rapid change of heart.

Shane has always been patient, kind, and thoughtful, but those qualities have been amplified. It's easy to rub your wife's feet when you feel perfectly healthy, but spending time massaging her legs when you feel miserable? That's magnification. It's easy to pray in passing for your wife, children, and family, but praying for them with such fervency and gratitude that it brings you to tears? Magnification. He's always been so tender towards the kids and I, but now that tenderness extends outward to everyone. The smallest kindnesses bring him to tears.

Back to Jose. We knew in advance that he would be coming for a visit and then afterward would join Alex for a mountain bike ride (undoubtedly a delicious dinner would also follow). This trio used to enjoy riding together regularly, so when Shane told me about the plan I wasn't surprised when he began getting choked up.

S: "I'm really happy for them."

A: "And you wish you could be there too."

S: "No, I'm just really happy for them."

I assumed he was wishing he could join the fun. But no. He was literally overjoyed that they could enjoy the beauty of an exhilarating ride, with or without him. That's a new emotion for Shane...I'd say it's charity, the pure love of Christ.

A long ago talk from Marvin J. Ashton comes to mind when I think of the qualities that are developing within Shane.

"...let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable.

Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer..." (Marvin J. Ashton)

Cancer is a huge, hairy challenge. Cancer is a gift.

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