Thursday, July 17, 2008

Being a Bitch

I'll be out of the country for three weeks and my first sermon on my return will the Cannanite woman. You recall, the woman that Jesus tells to go back home, that he has not come to feed the dogs the food that belongs to the children. And she, responding turns Jesus' words against him (as Jesus often turned his opponents words against them) and causes Jesus' to rethink his call. Basically, Jesus calls her a bitch and she acts in a way that our society might call a bitch. She is not submissive. She is not sweet. She fights for what she needs.

I have a basic non-understanding of the term "cancer survivor". I have no idea what a cancer survivor is that deserves a park (there is a new cancer survivor park in Memphis). Why cancer and not stroke survivor, or heart attack survivor or automobile accident survivor? I don't get it.

So, I've been thinking about this cancer thing. It is a matter of luck, of the randomness of the universe. (No, I don't believe God had something for me to learn, unless God wanted to reinforce my innate bitchiness and my distaste for those swarmy sweet cancer stories.) I've also been thinking about attitude. I have a woman in my congregation. Now, granted she has survived three cancers (and the death of her adult daughter) and she loves to remind me how important it is for me to have a positive attitude. She thinks a positive attitude is crucial to surviving cancer. Of all the things that influence survival in cancer, I think a positive attitude is probably the least important. As far as I can tell the only thing a positive attitude helps is how other people feel.

But, I do think attitude is important. But, I think the important attitude is bitchiness, aggressiveness in getting treatment, the willingness to know that what the docs are telling you is bullshit. The tenacity to keep after a diagnosis when the docs say "Oh, what's wrong with your stomach will get better when you get your thyroid fixed." The contrast is that poor woman who was told for years she needed to lose weight, wasn't believed when she said she was trying and couldn't, and then went to a new doc who found a 140 pound tumor.

So, if God sent me cancer to make me a sweet person, this ploy has utterly failed. I really like the Cannanite woman. She's my kind of sister. You go girl! (Of course, she is wiser and much more cunning than I am--taking what Jesus said and using it against him. )