November is the time we celebrate Thanksgiving and no blog would be complete without a post or two on giving thanks. But for the chronically ill, being thankful can be difficult. It’s so hard to see the joy in your life when you are dealing with so much, especially when those around you are giving thanks for health, wealth, and close relationships at a big party where they are able to enjoy themselves free from the distractions and frustrations that is the life of the chronically ill.
It’s so hard to think positive when you’re struggling, but it is essential to try to do so or eventually lose all hope. Joy is found in thanksgiving but the trick is to cultivate a spirit that can give thanks. It isn’t easy, but it is possible and it may take some time. My first suggestion for you is: Start small.
The only way to start anything is to start small. Can you find just one thing in your life to be thankful for today? Just one thing. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing. Just SOMEthing. Look outside your window. What is the first thing you see that shows God’s beauty? What’s one thing you see that gives you peace?
Outside my home are beautiful purple flowers. Purple always makes me feel better. I’ve loved purple since practically before I was born. ANYthing purple reminds me of beauty and gives me peace. What is that for you? Is it a color? Flowers? A beautiful sky? Green grass?
Look around at your home? Are their reminders there that give you comfort? After going through tremendous financial issues, I can now look at my house and see security. Not that I own it or because it’s so well built or gorgeous, but simply because I’m not out on the street where I could have been at one time in my life.
If neither of those strikes you with joy or blessing, look at yourself. What could have been worse, but for the grace of God? No matter how much pain or fatigue I feel, just knowing that God could have let me die of a rare and aggressive cancer fills me with thankfulness.
Looking deeper, what issue do others with one of your diagnoses have that maybe you don’t have to deal with? For me, even though my fatigue prevents me from working a job or going out much, I count myself blessed that my pain level is so much less than what others experience with Fibro. What is that for you? Can you feel thankful for that?
Another place to find something to be thankful for is to look at your family. Do you have a spouse that tries to understand and help you? Do you have children who are precious blessings from the Lord? Is there an extended family member, neighbor, friend, online friend, who has been a blessing to you that you can count as a blessing that day?
I’m not saying this is easy because as you look at your life, Satan will redirect you to all the things that are hard in your life or even about that very thing or person you could view and something to be thankful for. But if you look for that one thing each day to be thankful for, you will find them. When you do, you can then challenge yourself to do so each and every day. Find something new or find a new reason to view that one thing as a blessing and joy in your life.
For me, this finding something new in one thing over and over again is a TV show that always makes me laugh. I love the old 50s sitcom I Love Lucy. It always makes me smile. Watching the very same episode can be a blessing over and over again.
Having chronic illness or other chronic issues isn’t fun. Almost nothing about them are even remotely fun, but even so, you can find joy, humor, beauty in the other things around you that, given time to look daily, can help you see the joy. I believe that God puts these things in our lives to help us get through the difficulties we have in this fallen world. So, look for your joys daily and build your thankfulness habit. See if that doesn’t help you find your joy.
Next week I’ll share another step to getting the Thankfulness Habit.