I’m always encouraged when I look at how far I’ve come physically from my medical issues, and I’m discouraged when I look at how far I have to go. What I’m referring to is the debilitating illness I’ve faced for almost 3 years. I have Lyme disease, a Brain Injury, and something called P.O.T.S. (Postural, Orthostatic, Tachycardia, Syndrome). All of these have worked against each other and put me into a wheelchair. I live my life in bed since I have difficulty even sitting up. All of us are facing our own trials. Yours may be different than mine. But regardless of what we’re facing, it’s important to focus on what God HAS done in our lives, instead of what He Hasn’t.
I notice that when I look at how far I’ve come and the progress I’ve made, it brings a smile to my heart. It encourages me and it makes me grateful for what God’s done, and all the prayers He HAS answered. But when I look at how far I have to go, it steals my joy and discourages me. Soon a cloud of gloom surrounds me and I fall into self pity…. Hmm I wonder which thoughts I should try to focus on?! Should I focus on the ones that make me grateful or the ones that discourage me ;)?!
I know I talk a lot about looking at things positively-looking at the glass “half full.” But the reason I always bring this up is because it is something God is continually teaching me. It is a choice I am faced with every day, every hour, every minute. We all are faced with this decision. How are we going to look at our circumstances?? Are we going to look at what God HAS done or what He Hasn’t??? It is difficult to fight our negative “poor me” thoughts. But when we look at what we HAVE instead of what we don’t it brings joy to our souls.
Paul wrote this following verse while he was in prison:
“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
When I first wake up in the morning I’ve trained myself to take a few minutes and thank God that He saved my life and that He has given me another day here on earth. Each day is another “gift” to be grateful for. Doing this puts me off to a good start and brings refreshment to my soul… I even go on to thank God for the cup of coffee my mom brings me every morning… No joke, I think coffee is a heavenly gift 😉 lol..
The truth is that it is easiest for me to wake up in the morning and the first thing I notice is how bad my nerve pain throughout my back, legs, and hands is… It can set me into a gloomy mood…and then the rest of the day I’m thinking “How long is it going to take for my complete healing?? When will I not need my wheelchair anymore?? When will my vision be restored???!”
But an impatient attitude doesn’t help me, it just robs me of my peace. A grateful attitude brings peace, joy, comfort, and hope to us, and praise to God. This is the way I want to live my life. Every minute we have to make decisions on what thoughts we’re going to think and what attitude we’re going to have. Our attitude affects everything. So it’s important we try to have a grateful one.
“The eye is the Lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.”
Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical eyeballs here. He’s talking about the way we view our lives, the way we view people, the way we view trials. When we allow ourselves to look at our trials and go into self-pity, anger, and bitterness, we are seeing the world through “unhealthy eyes” and our “whole body will be full of darkness.” I think there are two different types of “darkness” we fall into.
- Sin and letting evil slowly come into our hearts by listening to the lies of Satan and becoming bitter and cold.
- Sadness, and despair-emotional darkness we our tormented by.
We have to FIGHT to see the world through God’s light. We have to desperately ask God to change our hearts and give us the grace to see what He IS doing, instead of being angry at what He’s NOT doing.
My sister got married last month to a great guy. She is so happy!! I was so excited for her and her fiancé when they got engaged!!! My sister and I have always been very close friends and always dreamed of the day she’d find the right guy to marry!!! But soon after she got engaged, I realized that I was so sick and impaired that I couldn’t throw her a wedding shower, her bachelorette party, or help decorate for the wedding. I wouldn’t be able to be there the morning of the wedding to help her put on her wedding dress and do her make-up. I wouldn’t be able to walk down the aisle and stand up next to her as her maid-of-honor. Sadness hit me as I realized the reality. She’s done sooo much for me in my life and I wanted to be there for her.
We had to do a lot of planning to make it so I could attend the wedding. My brain injury still makes it where I can’t handle noise and light or new environments outside of my house. When I’m around one of these factors my pain goes waaaay up throughout my body, I get migraines, I start to lose my ability to speak, and I start getting disoriented where I don’t know exactly what’s going on around me. We knew I’d be lucky to make it through the reception, but I had to have a dark quiet room to take breaks in so my brain would calm down and my pain would go down (dark and quiet are the ONLY things that help my brain injury when my brain gets “over stimulated”).
My younger brother was going to have to push me down the aisle in a wheelchair since I couldn’t walk. The problem is I could only sit up in a wheelchair for a short time before the P.O.T.S.(Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) would make me pass out. The only thing that stops me from passing out is lying down. So once I watched my beautiful sister walk down the aisle, my brother had to come pick me up out of the wheelchair and lay me down on the front aisle for the rest of the ceremony. I kept my sunglasses on for most of the day trying to block out the light and I had to lay down on a row of chairs for the reception as well.
Even taking pictures of my sister and myself together was tricky. My sister was so precious and kind. It was her wedding day but she was looking out for me and wanted to make sure we didn’t push it too much with the pictures so I’d still be able to make it to the ceremony. We got me out of the wheelchair for the pictures and I sat up next to her…. As my POTS kicked in I started falling down, and my sister just let me lean on her as our amazing photographer (Klocke Photography) worked with me and my limitations. After pictures were over, my best friend took me back to a dark quiet room. The simple pictures caused my pain to go up, my vision to blur, me to feel nauseas and dizzy, and a breathing attack. I was just hoping the breathing would calm down for the ceremony (and thank God it did).
Come the reception I was sooo out of it I couldn’t even move my arms or legs without help. We reserved a hotel room for me at the venue so I could be in the dark, and quiet to recharge. I lost the ability to speak, so I was pointing to try to communicate. We knew this would happen so we filmed my “Maid of Honor” speech ahead of time and played it at the reception. Usually at wedding receptions I’d be socializing and talking to all the people at each table, and I’d be on the dance floor until it ended. But I couldn’t do either of these things. I laid on a row of chairs on my mom’s lap and watched as much as I could before I had to be picked up and pushed back to the dark, quiet hotel room to recharge again.
During the wedding day I had two ways to look at this situation.
- What God had done,
- What He hadn’t.
The truth is that God had done so much for me. For one, I could of died in the car accident 2 1/2 years ago, but I didn’t. I realized that it was a gift that I was going to be able to attend the wedding and witness my sister’s happiness from the front row—here on earth—instead of from heaven. My sister still insisted on me being the “Maid of Honor” and I was so touched and honored by this. I was lucky to have my brother Nic (whom I call “Budster” since he’s my best buddy) walk/push me down the aisle in my wheelchair and then pick me up and carry me to the front row to lay down. He is so kind and gentle with me and I was so blessed to have him take care of me.
I was also so blessed to have my best friend Joy take care of me and help me get dressed, get in and out of the wheelchair, and stay with me in the dark quiet room while everyone else was out celebrating. I had a family who loved me so much and wanted me there so badly they figured out how to work AROUND my sickness to get me to the wedding. When I think of my AMAZING family and close friends who have got me through this trial, I sometimes think I’m one of the luckiest girls in the world.
I have so much to be grateful for. I have so much God HAS given me… why should I let my eyes look at things in a dark way and let my whole body be filled with “darkness” like that scripture says.
I heard a pastor on TV once say that the Lord taught him that the things we fix our eyes on ARE the things that grow in our lives. And the things that grow in our lives eventually become who WE ARE…. WOW, that statement hit me hard. Who do I want to be?? Do I want to be bitter, depressed, and negative?? Because if my thoughts are focused on what God HASN’T done, then that is who I will become. No, I want to be a warrior for Christ. I want to be someone who loves Him with all of my heart.. with ALL of my being. In order to be that person I have to fix my eyes on what God HAS done for me.
I need to praise Him whether He’s on my timeline or not. I need to worship Him not only for what He HAS done for me, but simply for who He is. If He never does anything again for me in my entire life, He still deserves praise. Because of WHO He is. He is amazing; He is so loving, forgiving, merciful, and full of kindness. He is faithful to us even when we aren’t faithful to Him. He sees the best in us, even when we can’t see anything good in ourselves. He deserves our worship everyday simply because—He IS God. He is the one who gave us our very existence.
After all, God, the creator of everything left heaven to come down here and be crucified so we could spend eternity with Him. If that is the ONLY good thing that ever happens to us in this life on earth, it is reason to rejoice and give thanks every day :).
I thank you all for your sweet comments, messages, and your prayers you’ve sent my way. God uses you all to encourage and inspire me. I hope that you can be encouraged and challenged to make a habit of looking at what God HAS done in your life instead of what He hasn’t. I hope that you can realize that what we fix our eyes on is what grows in our minds and hearts. And what grows becomes who we are. Who do you want to be??!