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I Have Cancer, Do I Have to Believe in God?

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Article

I have cancer and don't believe in god, can I still be spiritual?

image of Burt Rosen

Sorry Mom, but I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God. Not only do I not believe in God, but sometimes I have trouble when other people tell me about God. I’ve left support groups that are religious, I’ve started groups that suggest they are not the place for religion and I’ve deleted social media posts where others comment on how God will help me (because they are commenting on my feeds and should be sensitive to my beliefs).

When you have cancer, God is in everything you read. “Thoughts and prayer, God will save you, I'm praying for you, God has a plan, etc. I am sorry, but I think it’s all b*******, regardless of who your God is (I am an equal opportunity God disbeliever!)

I struggle with God in cancer. For starters, I often wonder, “If God will save me, why did he give it to me in the first place?" No one seems to focus on that part.

But, with my lack of belief in God, does that mean that I can’t be spiritual? 100% NO! I can and am spiritual. Dr Maya Spencer from The Royal College of Psychiatry in the UK (everything British is smarter) defines spirituality as:

"Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature."

Notice, no mention of God, but an open enough statement that allows people to believe or not believe in a God, or to feel anyway that brings them some level of satisfaction and comfort.

I find my spirituality within myself and in the world around me. The first part of the word, spirit, in my mind, lives within me. I have a lot of spirit. It’s my belief in myself, that I am capable and can overcome anything. I take a lot of strength from that which lives within me. The second inspiration (the middle of the word is close to spirit) comes from the world around me. The happiness and appreciation I get from breathing clean air, feeling sun on my face, hearing the rustle of leaves on the trees, etc, all make me appreciative and feeling like I am just a part of a bigger world.

I take walks and listen to the wind. I take long solo drives and listen to music. I go hiking and look at the sky. All of those things remind me that I am a part of something. I take comfort in all of my experiences and am constantly thinking about the world around me.

So, my spirituality is not based on God. If yours is, I am sincerely happy for you. We should all go with whatever works for us as individuals. Mine is based on my belief in myself, my context and what I am capable of. I focus a ton on my mental health and my spirit, and THAT’S what makes me a spiritual person.

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