My friend, Dave Franco, is a writer for the Rock Church in San Diego. One of the things that Dave does is write stories about people’s faith journeys for the members of the church. Once Dave found out about my story, I was honored to be selected for one of the stories he would write about. Thank you Dave for the great summary about our family and the lesson we’ve learned. Dave is a very talented writer and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to work with him on this summary. Read it below. – MichaelThis may sound very odd and off-putting, but the cancerous tumor that has grown in my brain, the one that will take my life soon, is not without its blessing. Let me just say before I begin, I do not wish to die. I have much to live for, a beautiful wife, four kids including triplets, and family and friends whom I love. What a joy they all are and how blessed I am to have them.
But I have realized that most of us modern-day people live such busy lives that almost no time is taken to linger on the truly meaningful things in life. That is certainly the trajectory of my life. I was going a hundred miles an hour at all times, pushing myself to accomplish as much as possible professionally and personally, the big job of leading the San Clemente Triton football booster club, and teaching Sunday School to 50 kids each Sunday. I’m even the kind of person that when I do get away on vacation, I often find myself thinking about my many responsibilities. I was on that path like so many others, distant from family and distracted by career and busyness. Most go on that way until the day they die or until their house, and life, are empty of the people that mean the most to them.
But for us lucky few, something slow growing like brain cancer comes along, strips everything away and sets you down in the middle of your life with nothing to do but look around and see what’s around you. And this is what’s around me—so much blessing, so many things that I have been missing.
The other day, my wife and daughter wheeled me down to the beach where they propped me up in the sun and breeze and, unable to get around on my own, I was forced to simply stop and take in everything. I lived big chunks of that day just staring at the beauty and feeling the rays on my skin and the cool ocean breeze. My wife’s smile and touch lit up my senses and my daughter, as she laughed and talked and walked along the sand was more breathtaking than I can describe. Just spending this time with them was like a dream.
To think all this, and more, had been there all along, but I just couldn’t slow down long enough to see it. It took a brain tumor—and that indeed is a shame.
But in an odd way, the thing that will take my life, has also given it. I am seeing things; things that I have been looking past for so long. Smiles. Eyes. Subtle movements. Quirks. Birds. Light. Flowers and blades of grass. The list is endless. Even time with God has become more rich, partly because it feels a little like calling a friend just before going over to his house.
Most of us live by two lists, A and B. Our A list includes everything we must do that is urgent, such as work and saying yes to everything that anyone asks of us. And our B list, which is time with God, family and slowing down long enough to enjoy the quiet, poignant moments of life. I think the most important thing in our lives is to get everything on the B list onto the A list and vice versa—before something comes along and makes you do it.
A pastor once said, “If the devil can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy.” What a thief he is. I wish you God’s blessing as you try to slow down long enough to gather up and count all that he has bestowed upon your life.
“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
Michael Coulson with Dave Franco