Sometimes, blessings come in strange little boxes.
It was March of 2008 and I was busy preparing for the release of my first novel in June. As is the case with any writer who has spent months, even years, finishing a novel, “shopping it” to agents and editors, dealing with rejections and self-doubt and a steadily declining will-power, these were exciting days, a regular dream-turned-reality.
But there was something else going on too. I had been having some rectal bleeding, a nuisance more than anything that had hung around for the better part of three weeks. Finally, at the urging of my wife, I saw a doctor. A colonoscopy followed and on March 17th I was given the grim news—“I’m very sorry, but you have colon cancer.”
At thirty-five with a wife and three daughters and a hopefully budding career as a novelist I had to ask, “Lord, in my head I know you’re in control, but my heart is wondering what’s going on here. You sure you know what you’re doing?”
A whirlwind of a month later I went in for surgery to remove the tumor and eighteen inches of my colon. A month after that (and just weeks before the big release) I started on a six-month chemotherapy regimen.
As you can imagine, all this was cause for a little reflection on life and living. I started evaluating my priorities, separating the wheat from the chaff, if you will, drawing a line between the things that really matter and those things that only seem to matter. Eventually, the microscope found my writing, and I took a good hard look at what I was writing and why I was writing it.
Now, what we write and our motives for writing is a highly personal affair for authors and each of us needs to wrestle with it sooner or later. After much reflection, much searching, and much wrestling, and in the words of the Preacher of Ecclesiastes, here is the conclusion of the matter: I want my writing to matter; I want it to move, to convict, to change. I want my words to be more than mere stories; I want them to be reflections of life, reflections of the heart, reflections of issues that matter.
So what does all this look like? Where is the point at which idea and practicality intersect? Well, for me, being a Christian author, it begins at the feet of my Savior, placing my writing before Him and saying, “Take it Jesus, it’s all yours. I surrender it to you.” And it fleshes itself out by approaching everything I write with an eternal perspective. Does my writing bleed with issues of eternal weight? Is it meant for more than smiles and temporal fuzzies? Do my stories house themes that are truly life-changing and perspective-altering?
I sure hope so. I sure hope what I write–the stories, the characters, the themes–are worth more than fleeting sentiments and momentary feelings. I hope readers walk away from my stories truly impacted and provoked to really think. In my book, that’s success as an author. That’s writing what really matters.
This is just one of the many blessings this strange little box has produced, but it is oh so important. Life is too short and too much is at stake to be spending time producing words that only seem to matter. At the end of my life, no matter how short or long it may be, I want to look back and be satisfied that I got it and in getting it I wrote stories that mattered. Really mattered.
Cancer. What a strange little box, indeed.
I’m available to speak on a variety of topics including surviving trials, finding your purpose, intentional living, numbering your days, and lessons learned from cancer.
Some of my more populare topics are . . .
The Blessings of Cancer . . . Our first thoughts of cancer is that it’s a curse. And it is, but there are blessings to be found there as well. In this session we’ll look at cancer from a totally different perspective and see it in a new light.
5 Ways to Cope with Cancer . . . We’ll discuss the five non-negotiables for navigating through that valley of Cancer.
5 Things Suffering Reminds Us Of . . . For most, cancer is a game-changer, a life-altering experience. Perspectives and priorities change in an instant. In this session we’ll discuss the important truths suffering allows us to focus on.
Things I’ve Learned From Those Who Suffer . . . I talk with those who suffer every day. Some of them have a proper perspective, some don’t. Here we’ll discuss the life lessons I’ve learned from those who have suffered the most.
The 3 Things That Matter the Most . . . When you strip life of everything that glitters and flashes, when you take away all the extras and luxuries, only three things really matter. What are they?
The Virtues of an Irritant . . . Suffering can be used for good. It sounds strange, I know, but we should never let a journey in the valley go to waste. Here we’ll look at how to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
To discuss booking, contact me at michael_dellosso(at)yahoo.com.
I have been reading your blog, and I can say, I am awed and inspired. God has held your hand through the most difficult times and has made you come out with an amazing testimony. I cannot wait to get one of your books, and I am sure I will enjoy it.
I am an aspiring author myself, and sometimes, I wonder.. will it ever happen? Just got the 8th rejection… but I hold on to He who will never leave nor forsake me.
You have a fan
I just came across your blog today. I had my first novel published in two months ago. I agree wholeheartedly with you that what Christian write needs to matter. The process is not worth the effort if we don’t produce works that point our readers to Jesus. If people just enjoy my story, I haven’t done anything long-lasting. I pray that everything I write honor God and builds the kingdom. Although suspense is not a genre I usually read, I do plan on checking out your books and buying them for my sons. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.
Susan, first, congrats on the book! That’s wonderful. I’m glad you see your writing as ministry and want to use it to glorify God and reach others with it. Keep up the great work!
Awesome testimony and blog!
I look forward to attending the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference this year.
Wonderful! Only the Power of God can cause us to look at suffering and affliction and see the good and blessing in it! Only through Christ can we kiss the rock that struck us!
The reason why I love your books is not only for entertainment, but for the journey in which your characters embark. Real questions that real people seek answers to, questions I can relate. My dad had recently gone through colon cancer and chemotherapy, he is now cancer free. In June, it will have been 6 years since I had lost my left arm a few inches below the elbow in a work accident. I have been a christian since the age of 5, and, when I lost my arm, I had many of the same questions of some of your characters. I am still a christian and my faith grows stronger in Christ as we walk through this journey together. My point is, everybody has burdens in their lives, everybody has questions, it’s the way we live through those burdens that make a difference. God has truly blessed you through your life burdens and will continue to bless you and others through your work. The way your characters come to life, and the way situations are handled, will get readers thinking about their own lives. God has given you a great testimony and a gifted ability to reach others for Himself. May God bless you in your ministry.
Wow, Jonathan, what a story you and your family have. God is faithful, isn’t he? Thank you for sharing that with me.
Just finished scream on my kindle loved it really got me thinking….great book plan to read more of your books…..
Diana, I’m so glad you enjoyed the story. I hope you like my other ones too 🙂
Thank you for sharing your cancer story, it took me back to Father’s Day 1999 when my husband collapsed in church. He was rushed by ambulance to the hospital and later that week it was comfirmed he had testicular cancer. But God was mericiful and we found out his cancer was caught early. He had surgery and then 1 week of chemo for the next three months, and PTL he has been cancer free for 13 years now! I pray you also will have a long, long, cancer free life! I can’t wait to read your books!
So glad to hear about your dad’s good report, Teresa. Thanks for sharing! Praising God with you.
Hello – I am also a colon cancer survivor and I wrote a book about my journey — wondering if you might like to read it and possibly review it? Towdah: A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope — you can view it on Amazon.com — checkout my reviews there. Contact me thru my website: alwaysasongofhope.com — it’s always great to hear of other Christian authors who seek to write to be a blessing! I first was linked to your blog via a FB friend, “when God is Silent” — then browsed to this article which of course caught my eye.
Sheryl, it’s always an honor to meet another cancer survivor. I’ll definitely check out your book. I’m so glad your FB friend sent you my way.