Brother David Steindl-Rast in A Listening Heart, The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness wrote, “Any given moment confronts us with a given reality. But if it is given, it is gift. If it is gift, the appropriate response is thanksgiving. Yet, thanksgiving, where it is genuine does not primarily look at the gift and express appreciation; it looks at the giver and expresses trust.”
This idea of gift can help us with the command to give thanks in everything. (1 THES 5:18) Gifts are not always welcome at first. Give my husband an iPhone and he will balk. How can he trust that this device can be learned with practice and become a valuable asset as the computer in his pocket? He sees it as lesser than Samsung and harder to learn.
When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia the given reality seemed bleak. I was thankful that I did not have a brain tumor or others things the doctors searched for, but overall gratitude was sorely lacking. Somehow I found my way to the writings of Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist and holocaust survivor.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”Viktor Frankl
When he found himself a prisoner in a holocaust camp, he was able to understand how some prisoners survived the atrocities and how some gave up. The power in our minds can influence everything. Not that he could deliver himself from the camp, but he found means to survive using his thinking and observed others doing the same. He later wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” which inspired me.
Often when chronic illness is diagnosed we begin to think thoughts of self pity and woe that sound like “Why me?” Frankl helped me realize that I could help myself with as much of a positive mindset as I could find. I educated myself. Refused to attend support groups that were only depressing “why me?” sessions. In fact, I eventually started a support group that focused on education about fibromyalgia, research, and finding ways to cope with fibro instead of “sitting in a bathtub of self pity and asking others to wash my back.”
Brother David says “Happiness is not what makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.”
As I learned and grew and did the best I could to take care of myself and my family, I eventually began to cope better, exercise more and move along with my life past the diagnosis and life changes that brought.
I am grateful to God for guiding and directing me then and now. Without His help, I surely would have floundered for several years and would not be the happy person I am today.