Who in the world would ever suspect me of being grateful for green Jell-O?
What 48-year old man would get excited, downright giddy, over the appearance of green Jell-O on a hospital tray?
And yet I would peel the plastic top off the container in suspense, and then eagerly and joyfully consume it every time the hospital put it on my dinner tray.
The simple pleasures that arise when you are on a special renal diet.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately wrestling with the lack of gratitude in my life. After all, I am the one who is convinced that sarcasm and cynicism are spiritual gifts.
I’ve come to realize that most of my life can be defined or characterized by my lack of gratitude for the simple things in life.
I’m now 48-years old and I’ve personally traveled through “the valley of the shadow of death” twice in 5 years.
I’m still trying to unpack my emotions and thoughts after last month’s health scare and life-altering news of my “new normal.”
I still have things I need to unpack with God as well. There are some things He and I need to talk through to help me process the twist in the plot of my story that He is writing.
I’m troubled by the way I am wrestling with this. I’m having flashbacks of coming to terms with the “new normal” of being the father of a child with special needs seventeen years ago.
It’s the same, but different.
I told God the other day, “I still love you, but I am really ticked off at you right now.”
We took communion at church Sunday. I declined because I felt like I still had some unresolved emotions with God that need addressing before I could participate in a worthy manner.
But I know deep in my heart that God’s grace is bigger than my anger and my struggle to understand this journey. And God’s love will wait out my anger, my bitterness, and my ingratitude.
Although I am tempted to turn my back to Him, I know He will wait patiently until I am ready to turn to Him again. And He will be right there with open arms when I do.
I am already changing as a result of my recent experiences. I am beginning to change my default response.
I want my default response to everything in my life to be gratitude.
I’m thanking God every day for waking me up. Every night, my last words to my wife are “thank you for all you did for me today.”
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my friends and family who have walked beside us and helped us in countless ways. The thoughts, comments, cards, and gestures of so many people lifted me up while I was hospitalized.
If you are a nurse, I have a whole new appreciation and admiration for all you do. I received care from some amazingly giving professionals during my near-month in the hospital.
I am determined to live the rest of however long my life is in a state of gratitude.
I am realizing that in all circumstances, all situations, and all trial, that I can always find something for which I can be grateful.
I cannot begin to explain to you the difference it makes in your outlook, attitude, and ability to persevere and endure whatever you are facing. Especially if you are a special-needs parent.
I’ve died on a hospital table twice now. Both times a machine pumped air into my lungs to breath for me.
Today I woke up realizing it’s God’s air I am breathing now. It’s his air in my lungs.
It’s his breath that comes out my nostrils, not mine. I’m supposed to be dead.
For almost a month all I could think about was seeing my special-needs son again. Swinging him, feeding him, sitting next to him and singing to him. Becky would text me pictures every day of Jon Alex while I was hospitalized.
I realized I never thought or dwelled on that hardships challenges, and difficulties of our every day life as special-needs parents. All I could think of was my love for him, and getting to be reunited with him as soon as possible. I forgot all about the hard times.
My default had changed.
Every day that I am given now to be his dad is a gift. No matter how hard, long, stressful or challenging that day may be, it is a gift.
Thankful in all things, not thankful for all things.
“Thank you for giving me one more day to be Becky’s husband, and Jon Alex’s dad.”