How Can I Be Thankful for That?

I’ll never forget Thanksgiving Day 2019.

I usually treasure family traditions—those few hours or days each year when the noisy clatter of life comes to a halt. Gathering, reflecting, and being present with those I love warms my soul.

However, everything about fall, feasting, and festive gatherings was the last thing on my mind. Two weeks earlier I had walked out of my doctor’s office with surgery papers that were life changing. An unavoidable severe cervical spine surgery was needed as soon as possible. I didn’t ask about the possible negative outcomes because I already knew them . . .

  • Death
  • Paralysis
  • Inability to swallow
  • Damage to the carotid or vertebral artery
  • Stroke
  • Development of painful pseudarthrosis
  • Damage to the spinal cord or nerve root(s) resulting in pain
  • Weakness/numbness in extremities
  • Facial paralysis
  • Loss of sensation, loss of bowel or bladder function
  • Inability to drive due to an inability to move my neck and head

In addition, my spine was so bad he said I needed to plan to be in ICU, have a tube in my throat to keep it from swelling shut, have a machine breathe for me after surgery, and plan on at least a year for recovery . . . if all went the best way possible. The surgery would put a stop to things I enjoyed, like running, gardening, and playful activities, and I would have to use assistive devices to clean and carry on the way I had lived my whole life.

Yes, I was thankful for an excellent surgeon, medical insurance, and supportive family and friends. And, having traveled to other countries, I’m consistently grateful for the abundant comforts of living in America: a home, bed, medical care, support for my son with disabilities, clean running water, food, sanitation, transportation . . . countless luxuries not available to many around the world.

The Gratitude Struggle

All this to say, there are seasons of our lives during which being grateful is almost impossible. Of course, some suffer so much more but this isn’t about suffering; it’s about knowing God has allowed an event, circumstance, or unexpected hardship that alters the course of your life.

Three days after Thanksgiving, life would be forever changed.

How do we move forward when life changes? Where is the stability when our fundamental ways of living are ripped out from under us?

These were my questions last Thanksgiving. Almost to the day, it’s been one year. A LOT of reframing has happened.  It’s been hard, angering at times, painful, and it demanded an intentional mindset. There is no formula for change—I’ve LOOKED! While everyone will encounter monumental challenges at some point, no one can outline a simple path, nor can they walk it for you.

What I can do is give you hope.  I can’t walk the path for you, but I can say that if you stay at it and choose to do some reframing work, you’ll be abundantly fulfilled. Please don’t give up; allow what I’ve learned to keep you moving forward, to believe you’ll make it, and to know the process is worth it.

My reframing process this past year has included:

  • Time for reflection: How was I spending my time, what was I focused on, where did I need to make changes? As I chose to change some habits, I became closer to my family, mindful of how vital presence is. I learned how fabulous it is to know and stand firm on God’s truth as I spent time with Him. Changes in these areas have provided stability and security I didn’t know before.
  • Time to receive help: Because recovery was so long, I had to have help.  Pride keeps us from asking or admitting this need. Pride pushes others away and gives a sense of false security. Now, asking for help lets me know others care, and they are able to use their gifts, which brings joy and bonds us to others. Getting pride out of the way has softened my heart and allowed me to be human.
  • Time to heal old wounds: Because of past relational wounds, I’ve not reached out or desired to cultivate friendships. Self-protection often leads to isolation, and isolation leads to enemy territory. I would never have cultivated the relationships I have now had I remained isolated. Safe, wise women came into my life, which has brought healing and connection. The enemy has less ground because I ask for prayer when needed, knowing God will protect and provide.
  • Time for growth: As I was healing, I pursued a life coaching certificate. I learned, grew, expanded my knowledge, and was introduced to new ways of thinking and relating. We often limit ourselves when we stay on the same path, never taking time to consider that maybe we were made to do more and to be more, so God may use us in ways never imagined. Pruning the non-essentials leads to an expansion of who we are and how the Lord wants to use us.

Friend, I don’t know what the Lord has planned for you, but I know it is good. I’ve come to see God’s providential hand in so many ways. The Lord has brought people into my life who have grown my soul in ways I will be forever thankful for. I know that if you choose to lean into what He has allowed, you will never be the same. I believe He’s planned more for you than you can imagine and is calling you to let go of things holding you back. If you want to be free and fulfilled, cling to the fact that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and God’s got you.  

Let Me Hear from You

What is He calling you to depend on Him for and how can Reframing Ministries be part of cheering you on?

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