You know how some things happen and leave you feeling overwhelmingly loved? A special gift, an unexpected act of kindness, the right word at the right time, a tender touch. Well, cancer isn’t one of those things. Or is it?
When you are living with a terminal disease, it’s easy to feel unloved. It may seem God doesn’t care. Your spouse and kids are too hurt to help. Your friends can’t understand or say the right thing. You are unable to do what you love to do and what others love about you.
You may have lost that loving feeling, but love is all around, more than you might imagine.
Over the years, I’ve been reminded several times that the Greek language has several words for love. Each one refers to a different kind of love. In comparison, the English language uses one word, “love,” and applies it to everything from marriage to bananas!
Expanding our love vocabulary can help us see how the amount of love in our life can and may dramatically increase after a cancer diagnosis.
Eros is the Greek word for romantic love. Eros is about romance, passion, pleasure, and attraction.
At the time of my cancer diagnosis, Amy and I had been married for twenty years. What an anniversary gift! But in hindsight it was just that. I had been struggling for a while to be the husband God desired and Amy deserved. I had been close to giving up.
Within a matter of weeks, God used my cancer to bring me to my senses and resurrect my heart. Since then, Amy has become ever more beautiful. I’m not just attracted. I’m enchanted! Since cancer, the eros has grown, along with each of the Greek kinds of love.
Philia, as in Philadelphia, refers to friendship and brotherly love. It’s the affection we feel to those closest to us, like family and friends.
Within minutes of others hearing about my cancer diagnosis, a tsunami of love came crashing down on my life - cards, prayers, meals, offers to help, and more.
Until cancer, I had no idea how many friends I had, how many people cared for me. Their love held me up and held me together.
Philia includes mutual concern for those in our community, our church, workplace, neighborhood, and our orbit. As a result of so many people reaching out to me, I felt more motivated than ever to reach out to others, especially the cancer community.
Pragma refers to enduring love. It’s made of commitment, mutuality, understanding, acceptance, accountability, tolerance, forgiveness, and devotion to another’s long-term best interests.
Pragma enables a 20th wedding anniversary; not to mention a 75th!
Pragma also enables lasting and life-long friendships. I had neglected some of my oldest and most sacred friendships. Despite having not seen each other in many years, cancer provided the impetus for us to reconnect and recommit ourselves to our friendship.
Philautia is self-love. We aren’t talking about destructive narcissism. We're talking about being kind to yourself.
To care for others, we must first learn to care for ourselves. I knew I needed to love myself, but I hadn’t done it…for years. I worked too much and rested too little. My job often took priority over my own needs, including my physical health.
Cancer forced me to take care of me. If I didn’t, me wouldn’t be much longer! Prioritizing my self-care, whether for a few hours for an appointment with my oncologist or a few weeks of sabbatical, led to other kinds of self-care - attending to practical concerns, spending time in uplifting relationships, and doing things that sparked joy.
Agape love, last, but not least, is selfless, unconditional, undeserved love. Agape is God’s love. It is best exhibited in Jesus Christ.
For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son. (John 3:16).
Agape is Jesus freely laying down his life for you and me.
Cancer is an ungodly, awful disease, yet, throughout my cancer journey, I experienced God’s tender and strong love for me. I experienced his presence and help in unmistakable ways. Knowing God loved me, whether disabled or enabled, made me feel more loved than ever.
I also experienced agape love from many others. Despite my fears that others would think less of me and leave me, they thought more of me and held on more tightly. When I could do less, they did more. I didn’t have to earn their love either. Like God’s it was agape!
In conclusion, you are loved, even now, more than ever.
Take a moment to reflect on the ways you have been loved and how you are loving others, especially since cancer arrived or whatever challenge you are facing. Above all, thank God for his perfect love for you!
To learn more about How Cancer Cured Me and can cure you, please check out my book and my blog and sign up for my mailing list:
My blog: www.davidgira.com/blog
My mailing list: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/uVLbpLr