Many people don't understand others who have strong religious/spiritual beliefs. Now, I'm not talking about the ultra-conservative, right-wing nut jobs that the media would have you believe are what ALL people of faith are--I'm talking about your everyday people who live their lives according to their faith and use their faith to help them get through. Two of these people I would like to talk about.
The first man I want to tell you about, I don't REALLY know. The man is Brian Rafalski and he is a hockey player. Today, he retired from the Red Wings and had a press conference to announce it. In his speech, he gave his reasons for walking away from the $6 million he was to earn next year. Among the reasons were his health and his family. He said that this past year had been hard on him physically, mentally, and spiritually and after talking to his wife and advisers, he felt that God was leading him in a new direction. He said that his life is now about serving God, his family, and others, and that hockey is not a priority, so he is retiring. He made it clear that God was very much in his decision-making process and was very humble about it. Quite a few people were extremely bummed about his saying this. As a person of faith, everything that he does WILL involve God. He didn't stand there and try to get anyone else to believe the way he does, he just gave his reasons for what he is doing and the process involved in coming to this decision. If he would have come out and said he used voodoo dolls and a Ouija board to decide his life, I really think there would have been much less of a hullabaloo. I'm very saddened by the way some people reacted to this and the amount of intolerance, which bordered on hatred. If someone were to say they called on their earth goddess to help in all decisions, I certainly wouldn't belittle them in public. I don't know why Brian Rafalski wasn't given the same consideration and why, at the least, his remarks were considered 'eye-brow raising.'
I have known the second man for somewhere around 45 years. Pete is a shirt-tail relative of mine, but I have always considered him more of a friend. We used to talk on the phone a lot and we would go out as friends to the movies once in a while. As we got older, our lives took us on very different paths. We saw each other only a few times the last 30 years, but we seem to take up where we left our friendship the last time. Whenever we were together, we had an easiness between us that comes with being friends for many years. And, no romance between us--we're both long-time married. ;)
A few months ago, I got some very distressing news about Pete. On 22 July of last year, Pete was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia--AML. He had a sub-type that killed half of all those diagnosed with this devastating disease within 9 months. He underwent chemotherapy, but was told he needed a bone marrow transplant to ever be considered 'cured.' And so, he has been working toward that end for months and was expecting to have the transplant in the next couple of months. Pete, too, is a man of faith and through this entire ordeal, he has had the attitude that whatever happened was how it should be. He never wavered in his belief that God was in control. The other day, he was told that his chance of ALREADY being cured is in the 20-40% range and each month he has no signs of the cancer, means he is closer to being declared cured. Somehow or another--and the doctors don't know why--the chemo worked, despite the odds being extremely low, and he has had no cancer since December. As it stands right now, having a marrow transplant might be the worst thing for his condition, as the procedure isn't without risk. He will continue to take it a day at a time and see what God has planned for him. He will trust that any advice he gets will be the correct advice. He will use his faith to make the decisions he has to.
Both men have a deep faith and both men rely on it for help in making life-changing decisions. Neither one is shy when it comes to acknowledging where his strength comes from. In private and in public, both let people know Who is in charge of whatever happens to him. Neither one is obnoxious about his faith, but many would deem it inappropriate for them to say what role their faith has in their lives. Why there is so much intolerance, I don't know. It seems as if people would be so much happier and easier to accept if someone was to say that advice came from the neighbors or psychic or deli owner than they are when God is given the credit. It really is a sad state in our world when tolerance is at such an all-time low--especially when everyone 'says' how tolerant they are.