Every Day is a Gift
Hear a cancer survivor’s practical advice for finding hope and joy in every day.
by Wilma DeRidder
By Wilma DeRidder
Every day is a gift. This simple truth helps me find hope and joy every day. I like to refer to this as “embracing the wonder of each new day.”
If you are alive today, you also have the opportunity to experience that every day is a gift.
Since cancer, I experience an increased sensitivity to the beauty surrounding me—almost a feeling of euphoria about surviving, being more alive. If you want to read about my battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, read “Embracing the Wonder.” There were many days when my doctors did not think I would live very long. Yet I have been blessed to still be here today, more than 10 years later!
For me, life after cancer has been different. I previously saw my life as a gift, but there is something about facing your own death that wakes you up to it even more and helps you savor those blessings.
I’m not sure where you are on your journey. Perhaps you or your loved one is facing cancer, or maybe you are facing other challenges. Either way, I want to share some thoughts about experiencing every day as a gift.
1. Take time to see the beauty around you.
Each day, I intentionally try to see the wonder and beauty all around me. I take a walk, stop to enjoy the flowers, hear children’s voices, and feel the wind in my hair, and so on. There are macro wonders, like the stars in the sky, or micro wonders like plants or even something like cells. It can be easy to miss the beauty and often it requires us to slow down, take a deep breath and notice the details of life. We need to choose to see this beauty, to re-experience that childlike wonder by noticing everything around us.
2. Focus on the positive.
We need to see the glass as being half full rather than half empty. Instead of focusing on all of the problems in our life, we need to make the choice to see every day as a gift and be thankful for what we have. There are good things to enjoy and reflect on, and focusing on these will lift your spirit and help you live in hope. As it says in the biblical book of Proverbs, “A cheerful heart is good medicine (17:22).”
3. Listen to music.
There is something so amazing about how songs can lift your spirit and soul. This helps me see the wonder of every day. Turn on classical music or listen to praise and worship music if you are a spiritual person. More than just intuitive benefits, there are biological reasons for this. Studies show that when we listen to music, our brains release dopamine, which in turn makes us happy. When we are facing challenges, we need to make every effort to care for ourselves, and cheerful music is a great way.
4. Treasure your relationships.
Healthy relationships are so important, especially when you are facing cancer! They are strong motivators to help you keep going when you don’t feel like doing anything. When I was going through cancer, I never felt alone. My husband, Charlie, would encourage me to take a walk with him, or play a board game to get me out of bed. Family and friends, hospital staff, and my doctors were also very caring. One specific way you can treasure your relationships today is to make sure you tell people how much you love and appreciate them. Don’t wait because life is uncertain (with or without cancer) and you never know when it will be your last opportunity to do so.
5. Forgive people.
This also relates to treasuring relationships. Sometimes it is easy to be hurt in relationships and to hold grudges. Especially while walking through cancer, people can experience some broken relationships. But the problem with unforgiveness is that it leads to bitterness that ultimately weighs you down and steals your joy. When you see every day as a gift, it helps you to reconcile with people you are estranged with. You don’t want to die with regrets or hard feelings toward someone you could have forgiven or shown more grace and love to.
Prayer helps calm your mind and spirit when you are experiencing pain and loss. It can also help you focus on the well-being of others. Research consistently shows these benefits. But for me, prayer is much more than an abstract or feel-good exercise. As a person who has a relationship with God, prayer is an intimate conversation with the creator of the universe who loves and cares for me. He is the one who has given me hope through the highs and lows of my life. And he certainly was my best source of strength through cancer. Which leads me to the next point.
7. Look for eternal wonder.
I think one of the most crucial ways to see every day as a gift and to embrace the wonder of life is through having a relationship with God. For me, this is the most important point. For if God is the one who created all that we see, each day becomes not something we are responsible for or something that just happened randomly, but something God has given to us. And seeing his creation gives us a sense of awe and gratitude. As it says in Psalm 139:14: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Taking the next step
For those who are unfamiliar with God, I recommend reading the Bible and what it says about having a relationship with him. It’s a pretty amazing book and more accessible to read than you might think.
You can also pray and ask him to show you his wonder. As Psalm 17:7 says, “Show me the wonder of your great love.”
As this verse shows, it is appropriate to ask God to show you the majesty of who he is and what he has created. Here is a sample prayer you can pray:
“God, I am amazed by the wonder of all I see around me. The stars in the sky, the flowers of the field. It is all overwhelmingly beautiful. Will you please open my eyes and heart to your wonder? Help me to know how I can have a relationship with you and continue to experience that every day you give me is a gift. Help me to see the blessings of today. Show me the wonder of your great love. Amen.”
May you experience today and all of your days as a profound gift.
If you would like more help with prayer, see Asking God for Help.
If you would like to know more about how to begin a relationship with God, see Knowing God Personally.
Note: We are not doctors and we cannot answer your medical questions. However, we welcome your questions about finding hope and knowing God.