Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Living in a spirit of gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to achieve greater peace of mind—and also one of the easiest. It isn’t hard to look around you and find others whose life is much harder than you own. Even my friend, Beth, who was paralyzed and suffered more than any person I have known, lived in a continual spirit of gratitude for the blessings she enjoyed. When she had a really bad day, she allowed herself no more than half an hour to feel sorry for herself, and then moved on!
Beth had a miserable childhood. Her mother resented her, saying Beth was the reason she had to get married. She was raped as a child by a babysitter, and when she reported the abuse to her parents, she was accused of lying. When she was a teen-ager, cancer ate through her spine and eventually destroyed the use of her legs. A certified teacher, she was not hired because of her disability, so she created beautiful art, taught children in her home, and became a world-class wife and mother. My children were some of the benefactors of her amazing talents.
Although she often developed huge bedsores that required hospitalization, struggled with terrible infections, and suffered with two bouts of cancer and other health challenges, Beth is one of the most cheerful persons I have ever known. When cancer returned, she endured the suffering and pain with courage and grace until the illness took her life.
Beth taught me to live in the present, to savor life, and to love those around us, even when they are difficult to love. She taught me to be thankful for the little things—the smile of a friend, a small act of kindness, a moment of laughter, the song of birds, and the artistry of a shadow that moves across the wall. She taught me to live in a spirit of gratitude.
I grew up without central heating, electric washers and dryers, air conditioning in homes or cars, a television, and countless other things that many consider to be necessities today, and yet I was a happy child. Because my father had survived a terrible car accident that left him disabled, he lost his career, his home, and his wealth, but he never lost His faith in God, his love for life, and his love for family and friends. He taught me to enjoy the journey, even when it’s difficult.
I lost Beth and my father to cancer many years ago but their beautiful, ebullient spirits live in my heart. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, please reflect on the simple blessings that you enjoy. If you have someone who loves you, praise the Lord. If you enjoy the necessities of life, thank God. If you recognize His love in your life, you are rich beyond measure.
With David, I rejoice: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God”(Psalm 42:5).
© Carol Brown