Friday, November 20, 2009

Practical Pondering and Julie's Journal

Well it's that time of year again when most of us make endless plans for travel, eat massive amounts of food and spend countless hours with family and friends.  Yep, it's Thanksgiving Holiday!!  I want to take a minute and talk about the word gratitude.  The dictionary states that "gratitude" is: a feeling or state of being thankful.

One of the most incredible life truths I stumbled upon was when I was 24 years old.  I had just been through a very emotionally and physically difficult surgery for cancer in which about a foot of my left calf was removed, all the lymph nodes from my groin area, about a foot of my left hip was removed and about a 6 inch chunk out of my right shoulder was also removed.  My chance survival 5 years from the surgery date was pretty dismal.  I had to go to Duke Hospital in Durham for the type of cancer treatment I needed because the Charlotte hospitals did not offer such treatment at the time.  I was in my second semester of graduate school at the time and all of this shut my life down pretty much for over 6 months.

I was told over and over and over again, "You're so lucky" (well then maybe I needed to pray to be unlucky if that was luck!) and "what a blessing that you live near Duke Hospital" (Right, three hours is close by, are you kidding?)  "Boy you're lucky they found it before it killed you!" (Uhmmm, Okay, right)  These were the kind of comments I received daily and I was resentful, annoyed and frankly, I was wishing that for one day some of the well wishers could feel how it feels to be that "lucky"!!  I got to know most of the other patients pretty well, and as I returned month after month, most of the patients I had become new friends with did not.  One by one, they succumbed to the cancer that ravaged their bodies. 

It was one of the most difficult times in my life, and week after week, month after month, I began to experience a change.  I started to understand what gratitude was.  I also began to understand what all the well wishers were saying to me.  I  truly and whole-heartedly thanked the Lord for allowing me to live through this dreadful disease that was taking most of my new friends.  In fact, I became truly grateful that the Lord had allowed me to experience cancer like I had.  I met so many awesome people who were fighting cancer, so many wonderful medical folks who were in it with me and I had probably to deepest gratitude for my family and closest friends.  I also learned that out of my experience and out of my gratitude I could serve others.  This is where I learned to my core that gratitude for my experiences, especially the difficult ones, could be used to serve others in a way that changed lives.  I became more and more grateful for my difficult life experiences because I now had a platform by which I could serve others.  How powerful that is when one truly understands that concept.  Gratitude.  It is the mechanism by which we can reclaim our lives and even our pasts, so that we can feel joy in our daily lives as we serve others.  Talk about being empowered!! Boy does this translate to our journey of lifestyle change! I found a few quotes on gratitude that we can chew on as we go into a season of Thanksgiving!  Enjoy and please take some time to remember what and who you are grateful for this season. 

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Anonymous

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

"O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever."  ~Psalms 107.1

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” ~Anthony Robbins

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God."  ~ Thessalonians 5.16-18

“Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God." ~ Philippians 4.6


Frances said...

Happy Gratitude Day!

Didn't want to be the first to comment on this uplifting blog because what is burning in me puts the negative twist in the post.

I am often awed to tears by the fortunes of my life. A roof over my head and a full refrigerator are enough to send me to my knees. Yet I warp the simple gift by turning it into a SHAMEFUL feeling of not being deserving of it. Then I SABOTAGE the gift; I overdo (overeat, spend, play) rather than simply accepting and enjoying the beautiful gift that God has wrought in my life. God,take away my shame and fear so that I may feel joy in your abundance.

Janice said...

Thank you, Julie, for this beautiful post. And thank you, Frances, for your comment--great insight!
I miss all of my HOPE friends! But I am thankful for my job! :)

kindra said...

We miss you too Janice!
For me, many times this battle of shame (my overeating is a symptom of that), begins in me changing my thoughts. Gratitude is the opposite of self-pity for me. It gets me away from my "awfulizing" obsessive thoughts which lead to the pantry or refrigerator. I have to "take my thoughts captive and think on things that are lovely and true and praiseworthy" as a means to defeat the unhealthy behavior. What another great way to fight the unhealthy behaviors: stop my thoughts of consuming negativity and focus on gratitude! Awesome again, Julie! I'm grateful for HOPE!