Okay, I’m stuck in bed in excruciating pain. The doctor said, “Take these pills for pain and take these pills to sleep. Do these exercises for back problems and you’ll be fine.” Then she handed me two prescriptions and a pamphlet with the exercises. I was unable to drive, unable to stand for more than a couple minutes and my pain level was so high that breathing sent sharp pains through my body. The pain medication did nothing for me. The sleeping pills did help me sleep. However, they caused me to wake up feeling like I was hit by a truck. I tried to do what exercises I could. How on Earth was I supposed to be thankful and believe that this is God’s will?
Since laying in bed was my number one activity there wasn’t much I could do. It was 1998/1999. I had no internet, let alone a smart phone. I did have a television in my bedroom with a VCR and I was able to read. At that time, I was a member of “One Spirit” book club. I browsed through my catalog and ordered Sarah Ban Breathnach’s, The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude in hopes of finding some guidance.
In the beginning of the journal Sarah retells a wonderful Hasidic parable about the power of gratitude to change the course of our destiny.
Once times were tough. Two men – both poor farmers – were walking down a country lane and met their rabbi. “How is it for you?” the rabbi asked the first man. “Lousy,” he grumbled, bemoaning his lot and lack. “Terrible, hard, awful. Not worth getting out of bed for. Life is lousy.”
Now God was eavesdropping on this conversation. “Lousy?” the Almighty thought. “You think your life is lousy now, you ungrateful lout? I’ll show you what lousy is.”
Then the Rabbi turned to the second man. “And you, my friend?”
“Ah, Rabbi. Life is good. God is so good, so gracious, so generous. Each morning I awaken. I’m so grateful for the gift of another day, for I know, rain or shine, it will unfold in wonder and blessings too bountiful to count. Life is so good.”
God smiled as the second man’s thanksgivings soared upward until they became one with the harmony of the heavenly hosts. Then the Almighty roared with delighted laughter. “Good?” You think your life is good now? I’ll show you what good is!”
My next step was to write at least five things that I was grateful for each day. Five? I really wanted to give this “attitude of gratitude” a chance to show me that the parable was true, but five was a difficult task. I am grateful for 1) my family 2) my dog 3) my eyesight 4) my hearing and 5) my bed. As time went on, it became easier. I found myself noticing more blessings since I was searching for things to write in my journal. Gradually, my attitude began to shift and I found myself finding it hard to limit myself to five (so I didn’t). Notice those wild flowers in the picture at the top and below? My best friend gave them to me. They were picked fresh today and boy do they smell good! Could things be better? Absolutely! Could things be worse? Of course! Life is good or bad depending on your attitude. I choose the good life in spite of my pain.
Yes, I still have times where I find it harder to keep positive and if you’re in a situation that you find yourself having a hard time being joyful and thankful in all circumstances, my favorite place to go with the help of the internet and a smart phone is Pinterest. There are millions of affirmations and positive thought quotes and images to help put you in a better mood. Everyone’s different though and maybe it would be more beneficial for you to listen to music, or watch a good comedy, or pick up the phone and call a friend… Whatever modality you choose, fill your life with so many blessings that they overflow into others lives as well.
Wishing you Faith, Hope and Love, 1 Corithians 13:13