Nancy and I have been married 32 years today. We are celebrating in a most unusual way. It helped me focus on living with gratitude.
Looking back over your life, there are bound to be a few significant events that stand out. Decisions made which end up impacting the arch of your future. One of the most significant in my life took place on June 2, 1990. Nancy and I were fresh out of college. Graduation had been a few weeks prior. Standing with friends and family, we made a commitment to each other; we would walk life together no matter what came our way.
For thirty-two years, we have made it work. It has not always been easy. Nancy will tell you I am impulsive, constantly looking to improve things, and a bit compulsive when it comes to things being in the correct place. It is no secret that I have had the easier go of it when navigating our relationship. We have made it work. Made it work even while I (we) have been fighting cancer these last six years.
These days Nancy moves within our relationship with a boldness and confidence that is refreshing and somewhat scary. Just the other day, she looked at me, smiled, and then said, “what, are you going to leave me now? I am the one with health insurance.” It is okay; you can laugh.
The truth is that we have grown closer together over the past six years. Walking this journey has caused us to have conversations we would typically avoid. I can honestly say I love Nancy more today than the day we stood before friends and family to become husband and wife.
Our anniversary celebration
This afternoon, I will have an ERCP to clean out the bile ducts in my liver. I cannot eat anything before the procedure, so a nice breakfast celebration is out of the question. Following these procedures, I usually want nothing more than to sit quietly and let my body recover. So I am anticipating a very low-key celebration.
Be Still and Know
The other day I had one of those Spirit moments where I was granted deeper insight into life.
I was feeling pretty low. These ERCPs happen every three months. Each one is risky and disruptive. The only reason I need them is one of my treatments almost killed me and did destroy my bile ducts. I was especially down because they had scheduled this one for our anniversary. (Yes, I had tried to move the procedure, but to move it meant putting it off for weeks which was unwise.) It was one of those moments when the weight of six years of fighting cancer, all the tests, treatments, worn-down body, and being forced to disability weighed heavy.
The Spirit spoke to my soul and said, you have a choice. Everything you have spoken is the truth. So you can focus on that – OR – you can choose to focus on your blessing.
To be honest, I resisted at first. In a strange way, I was feeling good focusing on my struggles. Slowly I saw the blessings. The mere fact that I can have my bile ducts cleaned out every three months – what a gift. Previously the doctors made me wait until my body was shutting down to do the ERCP. Now, we have a plan to take action before there is a problem. This is the first time I have made it to my three-month “cleaning.” Nancy will be with me the entire day. It might not be the perfect anniversary celebration, but we will be together; that is important.
The more I focused on my blessings, the lighter my spirit became. Before I knew it, my Eeyore syndrome was gone.
Moving with Gratitude
My journey is not your journey, and your journey is not my journey. While we may be traveling different paths, my sense is that there will be seasons or times when your spirit will feel low. You will wrestle with the “why me” and “if onlys.”
In those moments, start to note all the ways in which you are blessed. Blessed even amid the chaos and disruption.
- Who have you met solely because of life’s disruption?
- How have your grown and become stronger because of the struggle?
- When and where have you been surprised by the support of friends and strangers?
- How has your struggle allowed you to help others?
- Amid the chaos, how have you seen the Spirit of God?
Later today, Nancy and I will be celebrating 32 years of marriage by driving to the hospital, sitting in a waiting room together, and then driving home.
Sounds just about right.