I found this blog post as I was reading through a friend's blog. (He also has another great post entitled "Marriage is for Losers" that I would recommend as well.... and maybe some others on his blog that I haven't read yet), but this post entitled "Death Defying Gratitude" struck me so hard.
In the post he talks about his experience with a significant health trial and related it to commonly known stages of grief.
Here's the chunk I loved:
"Acceptance is usually considered to be the final stage of grief, but I wonder if it should be gratitude.** You see, somewhere in the midst of that excruciating week, it occurred to me that, unless I could be grateful in the middle of the pain, I couldn’t really be grateful at all. What I mean is: if I can only be thankful in the midst of pristine vacations with long hours of sleep, stacks of novels to read, laughing children, and just-the-right-amount-of-salt margaritas, I am not really experiencing gratitude. Happiness maybe, but gratitude is something different. It is a defiant insistence that no matter how bad it is, no matter how eviscerating the pain, no matter how deep the agony, there is something more. Gratitude is not just the discovery of a gift, it is the determined insistence that a gift is present, that it can be found, and that it can be received, regardless of what else is happening. It is the hopeful seeking for the rest of what is going on, right here, right now.
Gratitude is what makes it possible to be bowed low by grief and pain, to be brought to one’s knees by the agony, and yet to defiantly raise our eyes, look around, and believe that the view from this angle could become a gift. Gratitude is pain’s redemption. Gratitude makes you aware of gifts that have always been there, but that you couldn’t perceive when you were strong, confident, and upright. Sometimes, for instance, pain lays you out on the sand, and gives you a different vision of life, and you become grateful for the reminder that your frantic efforts to take control, fix the world, be a man, and keep it all together are causing you to miss out on an incredible gift. In the end, you may even look back into the pain and the grief, and you will never want to do it again, but being grateful for the vision it gave, you might find it hard to imagine your life without it."
I loved his thoughts so much on the idea that no matter WHAT we go through, "there is something more." Recent experiences in my life have truly brought me to my "knees by the agony" of it all, but yet I have truly felt so much peace and gratitude as I see things from a new perspective, or a new "angle" as he calls it. I definitely can look back and see how many times over the past year I was looking at life through my rose-trimmed glasses as I was "strong, confident, and upright", but now I am seeing gifts and blessings that were all around me... yet I had failed to see.
I also love his statement that I really do NEVER want to have to feel that pain and grief again (although I know that's not realistic!), but I am so grateful for the new perspective it gave me. I am grateful for the added personal strength and courage I gained, as well as a deeper, abiding testimony of the gospel of Jesus-Christ.