The longer a trial, the deeper the transformation. First I learned empathy. Then I learned about pain and how both physical and emotional pain can teach us and direct us—that pain has a purpose. Now I have learned gratitude. If there is a secret to happiness, I think it must be this: the act of intentional gratitude.
I went to the hospital a couple weeks ago for pretty intense abdominal pain related to my endometriosis. After nine hours in the hospital and a not much of a diagnosis, I came home discouraged. But the next day when I went to bed, I knelt to pray and felt an unexpected surge of gratitude for it all. I know talking about gratitude can sound commonplace and trite, but it changed my whole perception of the experience:
-I discovered gratitude for how this pain is changing me—because even though I don’t love the experience, I love what it’s doing to me.
-I realized God bestowed upon me a bit (a lot) of extra strength to handle the days of pain. (The doctor even called me “stoic” when she pushed painfully on my belly and I didn’t freak out–and believe me, I’m a wimp.)
-I’m grateful I had insurance to cover it all, a good hospital to go to, a wonderfully kind doctor who asked all the right questions, and morphine. (Seriously, thank you God, for morphine.)
-What a blessing my job situation is. In what other possible circumstances could I have taken the time off I needed to rest and even just work from bed when necessary?
-Most of all, I am grateful for the amount of hope I feel for my future family despite having to wait longer than I’d like. Somehow, it’s all okay because of my hope in what is to come.
I see now more than ever before that we really can be okay when things are hard. Gratitude helps us stop seeing ourselves as a victim and start acknowledging God’s hand in everything that happens to us. With gratitude, our experience of an event can be quite different than without it—and not only does it change our own perceptions, but it can encourage and lift the people we love and interact with as well.
P.S. Doesn’t this sculpture just take your breath away? I came across this photo after coming home from the hospital and got to thinking… maybe our babies can take care of us before they get here. I like to think that’s true. (Talk about something to be grateful for.)