What could happen if we made each day a day of thanks-giving?
What if we spent time to tell God the things we are so thankful for, in equal proportion to asking Him for our needs to be met?
What would it change? What could be made possible?
When we’re asking, we’re focusing on what we ‘have not’,
When we are thanking, we’re focusing on what we ‘have’.
Just a few years after launching Avenue, I was diagnosed with debilitating, spinal compression in my neck. One neurosurgeon thought it mysterious that I was even walking, given what he saw on my MRI. It had sidelined me, making what I used to take for granted challenging or impossible. Walking, shopping, and cooking would overwhelm my injured spine and undo me. I first responded with thoughts of ‘this happens to ‘other people’.
After the shock of the reality wore off, I began to fully face my circumstances. I didn’t know what the future held; there was little else to do except surgery because of the severity of the compression. Yet spinal surgery was high risk, at its best. But doctors were not willing to say this would make it all better. My spine may not rebound; only time would tell.
My biggest concern in all of this was being able to continue to be mommy to our young daughter. Post-surgery was a slow and painful recovery. Pain that looked like it would stay put. So much so, that I had wished to be gone, except for the deep well of desire to be here for my daughter. Throughout this whole season, I knew I had to control my thoughts. It was one of the few things I could control, but more importantly, I knew it was key to my health.
From my previous battles to heal from emotional trauma, to let go of bitterness and resentment, I learned things that would be my lifesavers to heal from physical trauma. I didn’t think to pull these truths up; they bubbled forth effortlessly, helping to keep my circumstances in perspective. When I was dealt the diagnosis, soon after I got a picture in my mind that if I’d had this injury in Calcutta, India, my fate would have been no surgery, eventual paralysis, unmedicated pain, my days spent lying on the ground begging on the street. No wheelchair. Early death. Though I have given many thanks for our country, now I am beyond thankful to God that I was given the favor to live in America. This instantly uprooted any seeds tempting to sprout up a pity party over my circumstance.
I’ve had to challenge myself to do more than I felt capable of. I knew that if I gave in to my status, I would have become recliner bound, or wheelchair bound, if I did not pursue the possibilities with the optimism that gratitude generates. I have healed measurably in the ensuing years. Not everything in my body is ‘back to normal’, but it is ‘my new normal’. And I am thankful that I am able to still do many things that I love, including supporting women in need through Avenue. Here are a few of the many others that have experienced the same:
Author Chelsea Balboa wrote about her own overwhelming challenge with spinal injury. It was constant gratitude that helped her accomplish what the doctors said was not possible.
A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of PTSD.
A personal friend battling depression made progress to healing through gratitude journaling.
Staying grounded in gratefulness is good medicine for the body, soul, and spirit! May you have a Thank filled Thanksgiving!
For over 20 years, Avenue has been providing guidance for women in pain.
Avenue for Women is ready to help you make a Healing Choice.
If you need to talk with another woman who’s been there, or ask questions about our groups you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.