Nancy L. Spoolman

The adjective definition of Taboo is “prohibited or restricted by social custom” or “designated as sacred and prohibited.” There are two subjects prevalent in our world today that are rarely discussed with others unless you know where they stand. I suppose you could call it a “safe zone” and not overstepping boundaries by not discussing politics and religion (or Faith as I like to think of).

Why are we so reluctant to discuss our Faith or take a stand when we see something our kids taught incorrectly. I could come up with the only answers: fear of offending, taboo, unsafe, risky, opinionated, and unethical. Who and when was it decided it was politically incorrect to talk about these things with co-workers? The one closest to my heart is my Faith.

It was while on the phone with one of my best friends, discussing an upcoming surgery I was to have, and which I was struggling with, that Pat said to me, “Nanc, you need to read this book by William P. Young.” I’d never heard of it, and I wondered at the time what this book had to do with my struggling with having surgery on my finger. My days were busy with work and family things, and I didn’t think much about it for some time.

I have a condition called Dupuytren’s contracture. A cord in the palm becomes thickened and pulls the finger or fingers downward. It is a genetic disease. My first surgery was in 2006. It straightened the finger to some extent, and all was well for almost 16 months. Over time I noticed the scar tissue thickening again, and when I finally went back to see the Dr. in October 2008, he gently suggested cutting the finger off. I was horrified and thought he was kidding. In December, I had surgery again, and Dr. Anderson tried to straighten the finger. I had lost some feeling in the finger because the nerves intertwined in the thickened scar tissue.

They removed the half-cast after several weeks, and I wore a finger splint for the next month and a half. By the time I saw the Dr. again at the end of February, we knew the surgery had not worked. I resolved myself to the fact that Dr. Anderson would have to amputate the finger. 

The decision when to have the surgery was difficult for me. I’m not one who likes to miss work. I always think of all these “what ifs”? I had several conversations with my husband and finally decided, No, I needed to do this now. I was tired of the finger getting in the way of everything I did. I could no longer put my hand in my pocket or slip a glove on without having to work the glove on the bent finger first. I was accustomed to typing using the ring finger, so that wasn’t a big deal. What was annoying was how often I had to unlock the caps lock  of the keyboard because the finger always hit that key. Or, when picking up a glass or cup, I would often drop it. Little things we take for granted were frustrating with the finger as it was.

For whatever reason, it was challenging to tell people I had to have my finger amputated. When I did say something to family or co-workers, their reaction was shocking. I finally quit mentioning it, and on March 10th, I had the surgery. I asked myself why I had such a difficult time telling anyone that I was having my finger amputated? Big deal. What was it about the amputation of the little finger that seemed more traumatic than when I’d had a mastectomy 18 years ago? Even the reaction from others was that of disbelief. Was it because it was so visual? I’m usually an open book, so why was this different? Nothing usually bothers me. What’s with the finger? 

That led me back to the conversation I had with my friend, Pat. I looked up the book she had recommended and decided to buy and download the audiobook. I wasn’t too sure I would like someone reading to me, but I was game to try.

As it turned out, the narrator was excellent! As I listened to the audiobook, it was as if I talked to my kids, grandkids, and husband about many things the book “said.” I have always maintained there is a reason for everything, that God made things happen, and we may never know why it happened the way it did, but God knew. This book reiterated everything I’d ever thought about God. It put into perspective my thoughts on the “Whys” of life in a more transparent format.

I had had God in my life since I was a little girl when I used to sit on my grandfather’s lap and read the King James Bible to him. Did I understand it? No! I could barely sound out the words. But I just knew He was there. Something always tugged at my heart to learn more about Jesus, and it was not until 1994 that I understood the meaning of bringing Jesus into my heart. It isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s continual spiritual growth and understanding, and what is so unique is the growing and learning never stops. Oh yes, there were many stumbling blocks and rocky roads in my life, but somehow I always knew it would turn out. Were these stumbling blocks a wake-up call from God? I didn’t know! There were many times I questioned what was going on in my life or asked, “Why me, God?” Deep within my heart, I knew there was a reason. 

While listening to this book, I heard two quotes “Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved.” That word “Trust.” Why is it that when I think of Trust, I think of trusting myself to get something done, to fix it, or trust in my husband to fix it? I always associated the word “Trust” with a physical being or thought. Why are we so skeptical of something we can’t physically touch or see? Why not Trust in God to take care of everything in my life? I profess to be a Christian; why do I let the human aspect take control of all things? The other quote that made me think was, “When all you can see is the pain, maybe that is when you lose sight of me.” I had some thinking to do.

The book summarized so much of my internal thoughts, which I had never been able to put into words. It made me realize that everything that happens in life, all the stress I live with daily, I don’t have to stress, but I choose to hang on to it. It’s all just “small stuff.” What I need to learn to do is to “let it go.” In the big picture of life, all the little things, all the “stuff,” does not matter. What I needed to do was let go of “stuff” and look up to “The One” who knows all.

We, as humans, are the ones who hang on to the negative thoughts, the control, the wants, and the “stuff.” One of the hardest things in life, I found, was letting my kids grow up. I wanted to protect them from being hurt. Unfortunately, they have to go through the same growing-up process as we did. Growing up is having those stumbling blocks that make us grow and look to God instead of ourselves. One stumbles, gets back up, learns something, and goes on. Some of seeing the big picture is letting go; it’s a never-ending cycle through life. Letting go of things at work, relationships, kids, and friends. In every aspect of our life, we have the word “control.” We think, “If only I could do this, or that, I could make it better.” What does matter is letting go, so whatever it is, God can take care of it. Not by you, but by our awesome God! God might have a different solution to an issue than you do.

It is our human culture that has decided what is taboo. Why might talking about a person’s religious beliefs or Faith offend someone? Why does NOT talking about it not offend someone? As I said previously, “Who and when was it decided it was politically incorrect to talk about these things?” I believe I can answer that now. It is the “human” aspect of our minds, our social upbringing, and our culture. How ignorant we are when the Holy Spirit is right there to help us grow in Godly ways! We have to be ready, willing, and wait for Him to guide us in His way.

I come back to the fact that there is no right or wrong way of how one perceives our country’s political direction. It comes back to, “Looking at the big picture of life, it’s all small stuff.” In the end, it does not matter. What does matter is what you do or how you react to all the “small stuff” of life. Do you hang on to your anger, stress, and insecurities everywhere you go, or do you let it go and let God take care of it? 

I know this excellent book has touched my life. The reading of it helped me overcome the feelings of inadequacy and deal with the finger issue. This book has helped me to grow spiritually and to realize I am not in control. Life is good, and God is good!

For reasons I don’t care to understand, I’ve let this year be a “tough” year. Too many “things” I let bother me. There is no doubt we are a country in trouble, but after reading this book, I have learned that there are many things I cannot control, nor do I want to manage them. All I can do is set an example and continually remind myself to let it go with God’s help. To “Trust in Him” that He will take care of everything. My Faith in God enables me to have a positive outlook, and I can get through all the “small stuff” in whatever direction God leads me.

If just one person reads this article and it touches their life, then my breaking the taboo subject barrier is worth it. I will listen to this book again, and I’m going to dig into rereading scripture. I know God wants me to reach out and help others realize He is in control at all times. Why worry when you have God?!

Submitted to SDAEOP newsletter in April 2009