Chalking up the 38th day of hospitalization for my son Ammon today on the homemade calendar page we have stuck on his hospital room wall so he can orient himself. Did I think I could ever endure this? No. Are there days when I am “losing it”? Yes. Oh, yes!
Life happens. That is what my friend says, and I have learned to agree with her wholeheartedly. In fact, life is what happens while we are making other plans. And the choice is pretty clean-cut. There are two paths: gratitude and despair. Whenever I start wandering off the gratitude path, despair is nipping at my heels relentlessly.
Some days, we feel hard-pressed to be thankful. Nurses are slow. Insurance isn’t going to pay. Meals are late. Friends forget you. Doctors are too busy to answer questions. Whatever. The choice is always there. We can seek out and find something to feel grateful for (and sometimes that takes quite a bit of detective work) or we can take the first step on that very slippery downhill slope of despair. I know from experience that the climb back up is very difficult.
I am not the only one with trials. I know that. I know you are dealing . . . or have dealt . . . or will be dealing . . . with circumstances and situations and emotions that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. The journey gets awfully grueling sometimes. There have been dark days when I had to trudge forward on the rocky path quite weary and all alone. We have to draw on reserves and strength that we didn’t know we had. When that is exhausted, God carries us. I know He does. I have been carried in my own extremity during this last month. I have felt the overwhelming peace that passeth all understanding. Of this I am sure!
Is your journey feeling very, very long for you? My friend, may I recommend to myself, and to you, the healing balm of gratitude. As impossible as it seems to me when the load is particularly heavy, with pondering, I can identify at least one blessing. Write it on a list and post it where you can remind yourself. Tomorrow do the same. Brainstorm. Even small things appear on my list:
- A sunny day
- Being together
- I am gaining experience and wisdom
- A skilled surgeon
- A fresh apple
- A cheery cleaning lady who smiles and tries to speak English
- A good test result
- Being alive
- My daughter reading Ammon a book out loud
- A pretty nature photograph in the hospital hallway
- A nap
Gratitude works its magic and safeguards us against discouragement and despair.
We aren’t thankful because we are happy.
We are happy because we are thankful.