I used to roll my eyes at people who talk about their afflictions in a grateful tone.
“It reminds me of the divine plan.”
“It hones my focus toward all the blessings I have.”
Ugh. It sounds so fake. Then, I had a child whose autoimmune programming led us to the emergency room at least once every 4 weeks for 4 years. Constant fight or flight for four years. Imagine a perfectly RATIONAL fear for every day for four years. Every food, every particulate in the air can spell the end of your son’s life. Otherwise innocuous particles (even the medications to treat the disease) are an urgent reminder that the very next minute you could be a grieving parent. Every soap, every detergent, every snack which other parents so blithely gift to their kids was akin to sweeping a minefield. The next step? It could be fine. It could be doom. I heard people talk about their life challenges, and I was jealous. I fantasized about what life must be like when you don't have to constantly be consumed every hour of every day about nature murdering your child.
But when you persist you achieve a love affair with simple things: breathing, clean water, moments at home holding your kids. Persist I did.
Fall of 2018 and the following Winter I took on far too much, all the while thinking it was not enough. The cost was palpable exactly one year ago this past December: I had shingles. And its pain was deep. But, I’m thankful for it. It reminded me of just how defeated I once was, 2015, in the throes of our son’s health problems, incapacitated by Lyme recovery, a newborn daughter, and a surgically reattached shoulder while launching a new location. That year and the next, the building owner refused to make good on certain promises. That refusal hurt us, hurt friends, hurt colleagues. By the obvious metric, that hurt was seven figures. By another more important metric, the pain of the building owner's misrepresentation cannot carry enough zeroes to communicate the harm.
So I had shingles. So what. It killed. But it couldn’t deprive me of my resolve. It was a wonderful reminder of how good I’ve had it, and how much worse things once seemed to be. Go ahead and roll your eyes. I once did.
But if you can humor me for a moment, imagine how abundant life can feel in the good times if you are thankful for affliction in the bad times.