Counting My Blessings

Posted on: August 24, 2011

Hello Friends!

I’ve been chatting with a friend who’s been experiencing chronic pain for the past couple of years. It’s hard to know how to encourage her because other than breaking my toes on a fairly consistent basis as I dash about the house barefoot, I don’t have any pain.

But, I feel my friend’s pain in my heart, and thought I would share with you some of the things I shared with her today.

Many blessings, Mardy


l be almost entirely arm-chair quarterbacking in this department, but here goes.  When we lived without air conditioning for 13 years, and our van was completely dead for 8 months, and we had no AC in the van for a couple of years, it was hard. I didn’t handle it as well as you’re handling your pain right now. Eventually though, I started counting my blessings – literally counting them each day, journaling them, forcing myself to keep them to the forefront of my mind. It didn’t change my circumstances and I still had to go through everything I was going through, but it helped so much.

Here’s my story. One day, when I was leaving a nursing home where the kids and I had just made a visit, I got into the van after loading everyone up. Florida in the summer is unbearably hot, and inside a van that has been parked in the sun for 2 hours is hot, hot, hot. And we had no AC at the time. Plus, the power steering had been broken for months. It was the end of a long day of running errands, and I still had a big meal to cook when we finally got home – in a hot, hot, hot kitchen.

I started to back out of the parking space, realizing I would have to do it in back-and-forth spurts w/no power steering, using all my weight to pull the steering wheel as far as I could in one direction, then inch the van backward, then use all of my weight in the other direction, then inch forward, then block traffic in the lot, and do it again.

I started to feel exasperated and the old why-me pity demon showed up, my old friend (my enemy really, but I had entertained him as a friend for so long…). And self-righteous thoughts popped up like “Why me? And when I am trying to lay my life down and do so much for others, and why can’t we ever get a break, etc.?”

Then I remembered a lady we had just visited who had been hit by a drunk driver and become a paraplegic at 29. She was now in her 60’s and had been in a nursing home all those years.  She had such a sweet, accepting, mature, loving attitude.  She had just reminded us to count our blessings each day.

So I turned – that moment – and said out loud to the kids, “Well, at least I have 2 arms to turn this van.” Thirty minutes later I was in a long grocery line w/tired kids waiting to get checked out, feeling impatient w/the people in front of me and the sloooow cashier, and self-pity tried to slither its way back to my side, so I said, “At least I have 2 legs to walk into this grocery store with!”

And on it went. That day was kind of a turning point for me that has helped me to face some pretty difficult trials. I have been grumpy and ungrateful plenty of times since, but it has been a slipping rather than a way of life.

I know that breaking my toes is not the same as the chronic pain you’re facing each day, but I keep breaking them! Twice last year, and the pain is bad. And then I am stuck with my foot elevated, having to be waited on, and watching things slip out of my control. Things like, “Why don’t my kids put the mayo back after they make lunch?” and, “Yikes, I can’t bear to look at the way they did this or that!” I lose control over my kitchen, my house, part of my life when I am incapacitated and forced to focus on my healing. I have to force myself, with MUCH effort, to focus on the blessings I do have, and not the way I want things done. It is not fun, and I have to keep choosing the relationship (w/God and people) over what I want. I think you may already be doing that, and I’m proud of you.

More recently, and not as dramatic, I woke up to find sugar ants on the kitchen counter after working so hard to get rid of them for weeks. I had just had success (I thought) when a certain child, who will remain nameless, put the sugar canister back in the old place (that I had said not to) and then spilled sugar again and didn’t clean it up. When I first saw the familiar trail creeping across my counter, I felt the same ol’, same ol’ feelings of discouragement, frustration, etc. – that strangling feeling of, “Not again!” But, I remembered that this negative feeling was going to lead me down a path that would end up with me in an emotional prison again. So, I looked up and said to God, “Sugar ants? This is the biggest trial I’m facing right now? Well, I’ll take ’em! Thank you that this is it, and bring ’em on!” (And then I killed them all with great pleasure!)

I hope this is a little encouraging to you, and wish I could be of more help. I will pray for you today. Love always, Mardy

1 Response to "Counting My Blessings"

Hi Mardy,

Thank you for this post. I have learned to “count my blessings.” It’s not always easy, but it becomes a spiritual discipline we must fight for. For some, it’s broken toes (ouch!), for others it’s chronic pain, and for others (like me)- it’s emotional pain beyond what one could stand…But it’s pain nonetheless that leads us to practice being thankful for ALL that we do have. I can’t wait for our little time together! Love you!

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