This weekend I was given the gift of going back to Pennsylvania to see my aunt, who has been diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw her and frankly was thinking it might be very difficult to see someone that I had loved and looked up to in such a weakened state. Imagine my surprise when she gave me that same mischievous smile that has always warmed my heart. She still is cracking jokes and laughing even though she cannot do anything for herself. She was always so independent, and I couldn’t imagine how she would be coping with her condition, but as I watched her this weekend it became clear that it was her strength and stubbornness that was really helping her to cope with this latest turn of events.
My two cousins, her daughters, moved me with their compassion and willingness to care for her and still enjoy who she is. They have faced each obstacle with a creativity and tenacity that I could only dream of having in their circumstances. Thinking about facing a situation like this has always frightened me and I’ve always avoided talking or thinking about it. It reminded me that God can work through each and every circumstance in our lives should we choose to allow it. As I pondered this situation a verse in Isaiah came to mind. Isaiah 61:3 “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.” It reminded me that true joy isn’t about life’s circumstances lining up the way we think they should, but about us receiving our joy from our heavenly father so that no matter what is happening around us we can rejoice in Him. This joy is not a pretense, but is about finding the things we can be grateful for no matter what is happening in our lives. Every day is a precious gift no matter what is happening around us. We get to choose how we react to every event in our life. We choose whether to make the best out of every situation or to sit on our “pity pot” and waste precious time until we decide that we are going to enjoy our life and learn each lesson as it comes our way.
So many of us spend too much of our lives living for “someday” without realizing that today is our someday! Our lives will begin to change drastically when we truly have had enough of feeling sorry for ourselves and decide to appreciate each and every moment we are given. This may seem harsh to some, but it is certainly what I needed to shake myself out of years of self-pity and the idea that I was somehow cheated of the good life. I will be forever grateful for those God surrounded me with who refused to allow me to wallow in my self-pity and helped me learn how to walk in gratitude every day!
What are you grateful for today?