A Prayer For My Uncle

My uncle has cancer. He continues to battle it, which he’s done for the past several years. While I’ve offered many private prayers, I figured I’d share one publicly.

Why share publicly? Because so many people are touched by cancer. And there seems to be power in sharing and connecting. I know there are countless people out there deep in their own battles, like my uncle. I want them to know, like I want my uncle to know, that we’re thinking about them. We’re trying to direct every ounce of positive energy their way.

My prayer isn’t traditional. I’m not praying to God. I’m praying to us…all of us. I’ll explain.

Why am I not praying to God?

I believe God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving. Whatever He wants to happen…happens. Whatever He wants to exist…exists. God doesn’t deny us anything we need to become the best version of ourselves.

What does that have to do with prayer? I think it’s futile to ask God for a particular result. While I would love for God to take my uncle’s cancer away, I don’t think that’s how God works.

Stuff happens. Some of it seems fair. Some of it seems unfair. But appearances can be misleading. There isn’t such a thing as fair or unfair, when it comes to the circumstances we face. They’re just circumstances. We choose how to face them. God gives us that choice. And He gives us all the tools that we need to face them in a way that brings us closer to Him.

Why am I praying to us?

We are God. You and me. The strangers we see on the street. The folks at the grocery store and the bank. We’re all gods.

Don’t believe me? Looks at Psalm 82:6, where God says

I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.

Jesus reiterates this, in John 10:34:

Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’?

We are gods. Collectively, we are God. I’m talking specifically about our souls. Our souls come directly from God. That’s the part of God we have. Our bodies, our brains, all our human limitations…not godly. But our souls…godly. Our souls make us who we are. We’re God.

In a way, when I pray to us, I’m praying to God. We’re here. We’re the ones steering these limited human machines around our planet trying to find love, and peace, and compassion, and growth, and all the other things that make life great. We’re all here for each other, literally.

What’s my prayer?

I pray that we fully appreciate all of life’s experiences. That’s why we’re here…to experience life. That’s what human beings do. We experience things. We’re limited. We don’t get the omnipotence, the all-encompassing love, the unending compassion, that God has. But we get a chance to grow in that direction.

Fortunately for us, our limitations afford us opportunities for growth. Souls, without the human limitations, are already with God. They are God. There is no separation. That’s what we get when our human experience has ended. We close any gap we might perceive between us and God.

The point is that as humans, what we get are experiences. We owe it to ourselves to use, and respond to, these experiences in ways that bring us closest to God. My uncle happens to face a challenging, frustrating, and disorienting experience. And there’s no playbook showing him the “right” response.

What would the “right” response even look like? I don’t know. But he has to respond. His family has to respond. His broader support network has to respond. We all have to decide what that means.

If there is such a thing as a “right” response, I figure it aligns with the following ideas:

  • Show everyone as much compassion as you can muster. I have no idea what you’re going through. You have no idea what the stranger at the store is going through. But we can all agree life is difficult. The least we can do is have compassion for everyone else, sharing our limitations, trying to do the best they can.
  • Savor every moment you get to spend with the people you love. It’s cliché to mention that people can be here one minute and gone the next. But it’s true. It’s not that we need to live in a perpetual state of mourning. We should enjoy the company of the people that matter to us. Express gratitude, even if it’s just a couple of words in your own head before you go to bed, for having spent time with the people that make you happiest.
  • Spend more time in the present than in the past and future combined. You’ll revisit memories from the past. You’ll build plans for the future. But life is what’s happening right now. With my uncle in mind, it’s easy to spend life hoping for the outcome where his cancer goes away. That outcome isn’t life, though. Hopefully one day it becomes life. For today, life is a series of battles, a steady pursuit of improved health. Love your battles. Use them to become the best version of you. Use them to connect yourself with the people that matter most to you.

Why this prayer matters

My prayer is that we appreciate all of life’s experiences. I mean we should use life in a way that brings us closer to each other, and as a result, closer to God. We shouldn’t respond to life in a way that embitters us, or angers us, or stunts our growth.

So many parts of life can seem so unfair. The lens of fair versus unfair steers us away from God. Life doesn’t work as fair versus unfair. Life is life. We each get one. We can use it any way we’d like. We must choose the responses that befit us, as gods.

I badly want my uncle’s cancer to go away. Badly. But I don’t get that choice. Neither does he. What he gets is a battle, and what he’s proven is he’s a warrior. That man is collecting, and appreciating, every experience life has to offer.

I pray that we…you and I…can do the exact same thing. We might not have a cancer diagnosis to focus our energy. If not, I bet you know someone that does. Almost everyone is affected by cancer.

We have brilliant folks working day and night trying to eliminate cancer as one of life’s experiences. But for us, it’s still here. It’s not our choice. It’s part of life.

Anything that’s part of life can shine light on our path to God. I pray you and I find that path.

Postscript

Thank you for reading. I feel uncomfortable sharing this. I avoid writing about God, in part, because I know it sounds preachy. A little too holier than thou, you know?

But I’m not coming from that place. I’m trying to learn. Every day is a chance to learn more about who I am. Every day is a chance to commit to who I want to be, and where I want to go. Not all of life’s experiences are as profound as a battle with cancer. There’s value in all of these experiences nonetheless.

If you know someone who is battling cancer, or have lost someone to cancer, I send nothing but positive energy your way. Life is difficult. Life is short, even when illness doesn’t interfere. I don’t mean this in a “we’re all doomed” sense. I mean it in the sense that we owe it to ourselves to make the most of what we have. Because in the grand scheme of things, it’s a fleeting moment.

Thanks again.

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