This post has been a long time in coming but for good reason.  Yesterday I was speaking at Forward Baptist Church in Scarborough for a Ladies Breakfast and I knew that some of these “What’s in your Closet” thoughts were going to end up in my message.  I will be posting parts of my message here over the next few weeks.  If you haven’t already read What’s in your Closet: Part One you should take a minute to start there.

Love: Bra, Underwear and a pair of  Spanx

Paul says that love is the most important piece of clothing we can wear.  That love itself binds everything else together in perfect harmony.  If that’s the case, then I’d like for us to consider love as the first clothes that we put on in the morning, the foundation of our outfit, our bra and underwear, perhaps a pair of spanx to smooth out some of our lumps and bumps.  These articles of clothing help make everything else fit well.

Think about it.  If the first clothes you put on in the morning are rooted in anger, rage, unforgiveness, hatred and selfishness then everything else, your behaviour, thoughts, actions and speech will all follow in that manner as well.

In the same way, when we first clothe ourselves in love, everything else fits better.  It’s hard to lash out in anger, to spread lies or speak unkind words when your foundation is love.  It’s hard to cheat on your spouse, have greedy thoughts or use filthy language when your foundation is love.  When your motives, behaviours, thoughts, speech and actions are rooted in love everything else falls nicely into place.  When we dress ourselves first with love it is easier to be kind, to show forgiveness, to have patience, to serve others, to be humble and to practice peace.  These characteristics become a natural extension of who we are.  In fact, I believe that even if wearing kindness, forgiveness, patience and humility are difficult or uncomfortable, if they are not a part of those characteristics and behaviours that come naturally to you, that if they are worn over the foundation of love, that over time, they will become easier to wear and will become our first natural response.

Let me give you two examples from my own life.  A few years ago Jeff and I had spent the day downtown in some pretty difficult meetings with the doctors at PMH talking about the upcoming realities of the treatment leading up to the bone marrow transplant.  It was determined that I would be starting chemotherapy in the next week in preparation for the transplant.  This reality weighed heavily on me.  We returned home from a long day and I was tired, both emotionally and physically.  While I was preparing dinner the doorbell rang and when I opened it there was a salesman offering us a new hot water tank.  I politely answered that this was not a good time and that no we weren’t interested.  The salesman persisted in his presentation, I listened and then referred back to Jeff to make sure that we didn’t need a new water tank and assured the salesman a second time that, no, we didn’t need a new water tank.  I began to close the door when he launched into his presentation a third time.  By that time I had had enough.  I had been polite.  I had been patient.  I had been kind, but I was going to lose it.  Without thinking much of the outcome I interrupted his presentation and I spoke these words, “to be honest, I’m more concerned about my upcoming chemotherapy treatments and bone marrow transplant than I am about a new hot water tank.”  The salesman was surprised to say the least, embarrassed, apologetic and walked away.

Now understand, in my head I had rehearsed this type of response many times, but I had always had the self control to keep those words leashed, knowing that they were unkind, ungracious and hurtful, never to be spoken out loud.  As I spoke those words that night, they were the taste of poison on my lips.  I have never forgotten the taste of those words.  I wonder though, if I had been wearing love that day, if love had been the most important part of my outfit, would it not have been easier to be self controlled, kind and patient, even in the face of his rude persistence.  Would there not have been a different outcome to that story? I’d like to think yes.

Another example:  Just over four years ago my mom died from a short, but terrible battle with cancer.  I remember one day a conversation that I had with my sister regarding our Dad.  She told me that she had decided that if Dad was to ever meet another woman that she was going to welcome that woman with open arms into our family.  I agreed with her and we decided that there would be no room for the drama that can accompany blending two families together.  I mean really, how would it be helpful in our relationship to our father, and what type of example would we be setting for our children if we were to say “if she’s going to be there, then we’re not coming…” I’ll never forget the day that Dad called to let me know that he had been spending a bit of time with a woman that he had met at his church.  You could tell from his voice that he was a bit nervous, understandably, about sharing this news and how my sister and I would react.  It was with joy that I was able to tell him about the decision that Pam and I had made, that we were happy for him and that we would do all that we could to welcome her into our lives, not as our mother, but as a friend.  I am happy to say that Dad and Maggie were married just over two years ago and that myself, my sister and our families are thrilled that she has joined our family.  This is an example of how choosing to wear love as a foundation has paved the way for great relationships.  I believe that things would be much different today if my sister and I had instead chosen to be angry, bitter or unloving.


Health Update:  The past few weeks have been pretty busy with appointments at PMH.  I have had a lingering chest infection and we are working hard together to get to the bottom of it.  I am thankful that my health team was able to see me on Friday and I was quickly scheduled for a CT scan of my lungs and a Pulmonary Functions Test (breathing test).  I was also given some medication to fight the lung infection and a bronchoscopy has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 19th.  The bronchoscopy will determine the type of infection and then lead to a better way to treat it.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been coughing a lot and very short of breath.  I am thankful (continually) for the care that I receive at PMH, for returned phone calls, for sending prescriptions to my local pharmacy and for how quickly they are able to care for my needs.

On a celebratory note: Tomorrow I celebrate 17 months post transplant.  I couldn’t be more thrilled. I am very thankful to have had a stranger donate his/her bone marrow for my transplant.  That being said, I am very aware that there are other patients who are in desperate need for a donor but that there is no match for them.  I meet these people all the time at the hospital. I am very aware that this could have been me… in need of a transplant, but no donor.  For many of these patients this means that they will continue to fight cancer but die because there is not a donor available for a transplant.  I know that I’ve asked before and I will ask it again today… Would you consider adding your name to the Bone Marrow Registry?  Doing this could save a life. Literally.

Thank you for considering this.