Lee Whitlock

As we begin Week 3, Major Transitions in Life please read Chapters 4 (“The Major Transitions of Life and Sick Religion”) and 6 (“Forgiveness and Unforgiveness” in Dr. Oates’ book, When Religion Get’s Sick. I was especially struck by this passage on pages 125 & 126 of my copy: “Therefore, my hypothesis in this chapter is that religion becomes sick when a person is unwilling and/or unable to appropriate the forgiveness of God and his fellowman or is unwilling and/or unable to forgive those whom he is estranged. He erects a wall of unforgiveness around himself that isolates him from his “significant others,,” with whom he must live.

As I have noted in previous posts, I am going through a struggle with cancer in the form of Multiple Myeloma. I am amazed at the damage this disease causes the body and relationships. My daughters (2) are both strong willed women of 43 and 40. My youngest is a nurse. Right now we are having difficulties in our relationship. Both of them band together to tell me what I should be doing and what my course of recovery should look like. I agree with them 95% of the time, but on rare occasions, I must make my own decisions based on my own data. It would take too long to go into the most recent example. In short, a neurologist in Baptist Hospital decided that I had “atrial fibrillation.” My nurse daughter heard him say this and heard him prescribe a new medication. When I got out of Baptist, I made my required visit to my family physician. Looking at the same data and my 30 year history with him, he said I did not have atrial fib and told me not to take the medication. My daughters banded together and said that I should follow the advice of the neurologist. I chose to follow the advice of my family physician. For some reason, this small difference in opinion has led to a major rift in family relationships. For about a year now, I have only heard from my daughters only spasmodically, and I have not heard from them at all for the past 2-3 months. It seems that they cannot forgive me for not taking their advice. I have tried to talk with my nurse daughter, but they are still angry that I did not take their advice. Each time I visit my family physician, I ask him if atrial fib is still a possibility, and he says no. Cancer, I am discovering, causes not only physical damage but it also causes spiritual and relationship damage as well.

I’d be interested in knowing if any of you have encountered anything similar in your patient relationships or in your own families.