Maintaining Gratitude Through a Spirit of Thanks-living

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by Joe MacDonald |

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Let’s face it. This year contains one struggle after another.

We continue to ask the same questions: “How do we beat this virus? Will I continue to be insured during layoffs? How will I afford quality care for my loved one in the middle of political, medical, and economic turmoil?”

These are tough questions. How do we maintain a state of peace with so many enormous things to distract us? We need a sense of balance more than ever.

Many of us know what it is like to feel as if someone has pulled the rug out from under us. My wife and I felt that way when a medical team came into my 3-day-old son’s hospital room to tell us he had severe factor VIII hemophilia A.

We began a frantic search to learn all we could about the rare bleeding disorder. Early on, we looked for ways to cope with something that seemed impossible. I wanted to be a dad, but I felt hopelessly unprepared to care for someone with a chronic disorder.

In the middle of my fears and struggles, something started gnawing at the very pit of my stomach. It was a realization born out of faith and a willingness to look at the life around me. Little by little, I saw things for which I could be thankful.

I have an excellent life partner (anyone who meets my wife would agree), and together we could handle anything life had to offer. I saw my son not as a boy affected by a bleeding disorder but as someone who proved, and still proves, fearless in the way he attacked each joy, each concern, and each event in his life. To borrow a line from Psalms 139:14, he is “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Soon, the process of finding thanks in all circumstances became less frantic and more of a way of life. When my youngest son suffered through countless bleeds and faced hospitalizations over several years, I remember feeling sad that he would not be able to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. At that moment of sadness, the entire special pediatric unit turned into a ghoulish fun fest, coming to his bedside and allowing him to share in the joy of the season.

Again, I gave thanks for the fantastic workers who not only did their jobs but loved the children in their care fiercely, reminding them that normalcy comes in all shapes and sizes. I had the opportunity to stand there and give thanks for the chance to see the love in action, all of it directed at the kiddos on floor six of the University of New Mexico Hospital.

Through my journey, as I transitioned into the idea of maintaining a life of “thanks-living,” I began to notice not only the big things for which we had to be grateful, but the smallest things that contributed to our joy and contentment.

I gave thanks for the opportunity to build Lego sets with my son. While we worked together, he shared his ideas about life and his hopes for his future. I thought about how many of these moments would not occur if he was not hospitalized. While it proved a drag not to celebrate at home, the amount of quality time we shared was priceless.

To appreciate everything, I had to change my way of thinking about the world. I could stress about the due report, the incomplete sermon, and even visiting everyone who was ill. These things are essential in my line of work, but with patience, I knew everything would resolve itself. My task was to find comfort at that moment.

Enter a spirit of thanks-living. Gone are the times I fret over the things not completed. Looking at life with gratitude allows me to match the struggles of day-to-day living with hope for the future. Not only will we get through this crazy year of battle, but we will thrive through it, equipped to be our best selves. And so, I say to you, “Happy Thanks-living!”


Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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