Rediscovering a thankful spirit (not a Thanksgiving post)

Rediscovering a thankful spirit

 

I always try to be thankful for what I have. I say thank you when people help me, including wait staff, medical professionals, and anyone else. It’s just polite, you know?

What I feel like I’ve lost in recent months is a thankful spirit. A true thankful spirit. Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. I’ve not talked about it much on my blog, but this year has been a myriad of health challenges that have changed my life for what might be forever. They’ve certainly changed my attitude and mindset for forever.

Almost out of habit, I try to keep in mind the things in life that are going right. When I’ve gotten discouraged I try to think “well at least I am not dealing with so and so” or “at least I have so and so.” It feels robotic. It feels forced. I don’t feel truly thankful.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? I’ve tried to sort it out in my own head and heart but writing is the best way for me to sort things out, the best way for me to even pray. I share this publicly both as accountability and also in hopes that it helps someone else.

To be honest, I’m almost annoyed that this is coming around Thanksgiving time. Everyone is doing the “30 days of Thankful” posts on Facebook and part of me wants to force myself to join in. It feels like one more thing I have to manage and commit to so I thought I’d would give it a big one-time shot and try to embrace some of the ideas here.

What I feel like God is showing me is that thankfulness is a spirit, not a thought or even an action. Those thoughts and actions stem from the thankful spirit, the spirit I feel like I’m losing. The thoughts and actions are fed by the spirit but it also happens in reverse. That’s why I think it’s important to maintain the “thank yous” even when I don’t feel overjoyed with life.

I’ve been so caught up in the day-to-day of my illness including the fears, the doubts, the anger. I’m trying to be thankful that we now know answers for what I have and are treating it, but to be honest I’m not there yet. I’m still frustrated at the process and yes, even a little angry that this is happening to me. I’m not bitter, just really going through that stage of grief right now. I’m also fearful of more illness and more pain.

That said, I need to take time to recognize and yes, be thankful for, all that has happened in this storm. I’m about to go “stream of consciousness” on you … you’ve been warned! 

My husband

He has put up with so much from me since we’ve been married. He does so without complaint. John shows me every day how much he loves me simply by taking over more than his share of the household stuff, never complaining when I have days I can barely get out of bed or days when I make our home less than pleasant to live in. I am in awe of how amazing and loving the man God gave me is. It literally makes me quake.

I remember when a teacher told a group of students when I was in junior high that it would take a “special kind of man to be willing to marry Jamie.” God has taken a statement that tore into my very soul and shown me that I’m valuable enough for him to send me a man who is up to the task. I have no idea how I can ever show John how much he means to me or make this up to him.

Love from others

This includes family, friends and colleagues. I’ve had people from all over the country and even world checking in on me on a regular basis. They are sincerely interested and don’t try to sell me “cures” or tell me I should be feeling better by now. It makes me feel like I’m not alone.

My pets

I know this may sound trite, but they have truly been a comfort. Two of them, Missy and Flower, have actually helped take care of me by “supervising” me and in their own way letting John know when I’m feeling extra bad but don’t want to tell anyone. These “furkids” have soothed my spirit and helped me feel more normal. I look forward to being strong enough to walk the dogs by myself again. That gives me a goal.

Understanding clients

I’ve not lost any clients over this. In fact, I’ve been able to slowly grow my business. I’ve stuck with what I know I do well and not explored other opportunities that are on my goal list. By owning my business and being my own boss, I’ve been able to choose my schedule and work when I’m able. When I need to rest, I rest. When I can work, I work.

Realizing priorities

I used to suffer from a serious case of “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out). In my days as a reporter, I felt like I might get behind the proverbial 8 ball if I missed a meeting or missed some communication from my sources. What if a tiny nugget of information was shared and I wasn’t there? That would of course be bad. Or would it?

I’ve had to stop doing most my hobbies and even took a six-week break from this blog. I rarely attend social events and focus on spending time with my husband, pets and job. I just get overrun physically if I try to do more. I also have to take a full day each week to plan to not get much done. The new treatment I’m doing requires that I take a weekly dose of a chemotherapy drug. It drains my energy even at the lower dose that I’m on compared to cancer patients.

I will eventually add some of these activities back into my life. But this break from most activities has shown me what is truly important to me and what I’ve been doing because I feel like I should. I’ve already maintained my activities with the Captivating Heart Women’s Retreat ministry. The continual messages I get from God are that he wants me to be involved with helping women truly understand and embrace their inherent value and their personal strengths. This includes in the professional, personal, relational, and faith realms.

How do you choose to be thankful through life’s storms?

 

 

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. We used to have a postor who had diabetes. Whenever anyone would ask him, “How are you,” he would reply, “Better than I deserve.”

    That is now my new answer and has caused me to realize true thankfulness. And every time I say that answer, the person I’m talking to agrees (for himself, of course. Ha!)

    Another thing: We had a worship leader in our last church (we’ve moved 15 times…) who would often remind us, “If you are even thinking about grumbling about life, today, I challenge you to go to the nursing home and just look around. There you’ll find a whole people group that would be eager to change places with you on your WORST day.”

    That helps me, too. 🙂

  2. I understand what you mean about “practicing” gratefulness without being truly thankful. I feel like that helps in the long run though because at least I am keeping my attitude in the right place instead of spiraling into negative thoughts. If it gets you through until you feel that spirit again then I wouldn’t beat yourself up over it.

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