How brokenness can lead to thankfulness

I am flat on my back watching the rotation of the ceiling fan give off a low hum. Around and around and around it spins. My mind is following. I tilt a bit to my side to release the ache that is beginning to form near my spine. Blessed relief! For now.
Photo by Colin Maynard on Unsplash
I think about the dishes in the sink, and how I had to skip my workout this morning. Then there’s that pile of clean laundry on the floor beside me that promises to wrinkle if I don’t fold it soon. The bills need to be paid, counters wiped down, floors cleaned. The list grows and I wonder how long I will allow myself to lay in this pain free position before I tackle it.
It has been six weeks since I noticed the dull pain in my back. What started as an annoyance has turned into an ache that keeps me from falling asleep at night. I have tried ice and heat, chiropractic manipulation and TENS units, steroids and muscle relaxers. It still hurts, and my frustration is growing. My body can’t do what I want it to do.
I wonder if I will ever get better. I wonder what my life will feel like if I don’t. I allow my thoughts to go there for the moment. What if this is my new norm?
That old saying of absence making the heart grow fonder is ringing true. I realize how I never miss something more than when I know I can’t have it. (Think donuts on a diet. That soft dough filled with a rich, sweet cream finished off with a dusting of finely sifted powdered sugar that sticks to your lips with every savored bite.)
There are a lot of things that I take for granted, but this recent loss of mobility has me taking inventory. I look around to receive what surrounds me. What would I miss if it were taken away? This thought has been moving me from a position of expectation to a posture of thankfulness. What would I miss if it were taken away today?
My family? Obviously!
My home? Of course.
My community? Definitely.
My eyesight? Without question.
Donuts? I’m not going to answer that.
But what I will say is that my life is filled to the brim and spilling over with things that bring me joy, happiness, and contentment. And I know that I miss out on the beauty of all I have been given when I focus on what I still want. I feel ashamed at how I can so easily grumble over what I feel is missing.
I see how this leads me to the crossroads of contentment: will I focus my life on that for which I am thankful or will I focus it on what I lack?
I hope and pray that my mobility will soon return to me, and I won’t pretend that such a loss would not be devastating. But contentment is a journey; one that takes time, intention, and practice. It’s found at the end of the road that is travelled one step at a time, one day at a time.
As for today, I am walking (or more accurately, laying) thankful.
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