The answer is gratitude!
I have a story to share instead of a secret to hide. Most of my life I have spent pretending that I do not have chronic pain and that I am not sick. Sometimes my acting skills are Oscar worthy; yesterday I could no longer act.
My body demanded rest for weeks, but with performances, a private music studio to run, Christmas, and my family to care for, not to mention my daughter having a five-day high-fever, I said “no” to my health and “yes” to everything that seemed more important.
Yesterday, I went to the doctor thinking I had a sinus infection or bronchitis, but it turns out I have pneumonia in spite of having a pneumonia vaccine. Since I have asthma, scoliosis, 14 vertebrae fused in my spine, Herrington rods, chronic migraines, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia, getting pneumonia is a bit complicated.
I was devastated yesterday. I needed to take a week off from teaching just 13 days before my student recital and 2 days before the first Beauty and the Beast rehearsal. Anger and fear held onto my heart like blood-sucking leaches. How could God do this to me? I have fought through 2 years of mononucleosis, one of the most painful back surgeries ever invented, and managed to have children in spite of discouragement from my doctors. How could this happen after I had changed my diet, attitude, and lifestyle so much?
The fact remains that no matter how hard I work on my health or how well I take care of my body, aside from a miracle, I will never be completely healthy. Although, as far as I know, humans have a 100% death rate, so as my body slowly sinks to the grave, I must reach for the heavens.
But, our culture celebrates healthy people, and why shouldn’t we? Healthy people build more, make more, do more, and become more. Or do they? Although I pray to be healed daily, I understand that I have a dependence on God that most healthy people may never possess. I must depend on and therefore give glory to God when I do anything over and above what most doctors expect of me.
Perhaps doing more isn’t equal to becoming a better person or even a Godlier person. Instead of doing more, I must be grateful for what I can do and what and who I have. We reject grace when we lose our gratitude, therefore I must be grateful so that I won’t be disgraced!
Many have questioned whether I have enough faith to be healed, but sometimes not being healed takes more faith than receiving a miracle; sometimes YOU are the miracle. The most faith-strenuous exercise I can imagine is choosing to worship and love a God who has not chosen to answer my prayers to my satisfaction. But when I add gratitude to that equation, the strain doesn’t vanish, but my fear decreases and my heart is strengthened.
My heart needed strengthening when we moved to China in February 2010. Jim had was forced to work on our second day in Shanghai and I was left alone in a frigid Chinese complex with an 18-month-old baby, no internet, no phone, no cable, no friends, and only four Mandarin words in my vocabulary. I learned from a dear friend in Humboldt County to write gratitude pages when I struggle with despair. It is those gratitude pages that helped me focus on the beauty of our situation and embrace a gratifying season of our lives. By having gratitude for the grace of God I did not despair.
Yesterday, I fell into despair and for a time rejected grace. Today, I pulled out my gratitude journal and began filling the page with wonderful blessings.
Below is my first page of my 30-days of gratitude. My handwriting is shaky from albuterol and steroids, so I will type it out if you wish to read on.
If you struggle with depression, anxiety, fear, or a broken heart, please open your Bible, pray for guidance, and fill a page every morning with your blessings.
This will change your life!
Gratitude: January 10. 2017
1. Albuterol, so I may breathe
2. Hot tea
3. My dear husband who took the day off from work to help
4. This gorgeous pen from Shannon
5. Dinner provided by Vanessa
6. Julie, who took Gisselle to and from school today
7. Astrid, who picked up both of my children yesterday
8. Sam, who went to Costco for me
9. My Seester, who is sending me new vitamins
10. Prayer from my friends and family
11. Lynn, who always responds to texts, night or day and in any country
12. My students who are so understanding as I take a week off from teaching
13. Christine, who did library for me
14. Mara, who inspired me to write a gratitude list when I fall into despair
15. Mango, yumm!
16. So much time to read and write this week
17. The gift of another day
18. My Lord & Savior who is my healer
19. Giselle, who wanted to be sure I ate breakfast.
20. Jameson, who always has a “brilliant idea”
21. Anti-biotics that are helping me heal
22. Time to read with my children for longer than usual
23. A beautiful house in a free country
24. My parents, who were able to visit us
25. The sun as it casts glorious shadows and a rainbow of colors before the rain.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God: and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I pray that you let gratitude guard your heart, through Christ Jesus!
When your back looks like a pretzel, things don't work as they should.
But, there is always a reason to be grateful!
I'm loving my pink fingers on my less-than-proficient hands!