At about 5:30 p.m. on October 31st I was cooking supper and helping the little ones with their homework when the phone rang. It was my husband calling from school where he was still working and my oldest son was attending basketball practice.
It wasn’t unusual for my husband to call but, when he told me that James was hurt and he was probably going to have to take him to the emergency room, I was completely caught off guard.
Apparently, my son had dribbled down the court at full speed when he went up for a layup. He made the shot, but he was going so fast that he didn’t stop before hitting the padded wall.
James fell down, but he didn’t get back up. He had severe pain in his right leg, but there was no immediate swelling or bruising so no one knew what was really wrong. They just knew James was miserable.
My husband decided to stop by to see the trainer at the high school to see what he thought about James’ injury before going to the hospital.
By the time they got there his leg, near the knee, had swollen to several times its normal size. The trainer said to call an ambulance because they couldn’t get my son back into my husband’s small car.
In the meantime, amidst getting calls and texts from my husband and parents, I raced around getting supper ready, picking out clothes for the kids for the next day, packing as much of the lunches for the next day as I could, writing out instructions for the morning, making sure the kids got their baths, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, asking our church family to pray, and generally panicking because my husband said to be prepared in case our son needed surgery.
I wanted to be with James, but I also had four other kids to take care of. It was a stressful couple of hours.
Finally, around 8:00 p.m., my dad said he would stay at our house until one of us got back to relieve him (My mom, a nurse, had gone to the hospital already since she could get there quicker than I could.).
On the 25 minute drive to the hospital I kept thinking about the countless hours my son had spent preparing for the basketball season and the fact that he didn’t even make it through his first official practice of the season. It seemed that his hopes and dreams for his 8th grade season were over in the blink of an eye.
With tear-filled eyes and thoughts about how hard this was going to be on my son, I prayed that he wouldn’t need surgery.
James’ tibia ended up being broken at the growth plate. However, the PA said that she couldn’t believe that the bone wasn’t out of alignment because of the amount of swelling. She thought the break would be much worse when she looked at the x-rays.
After several hours in the emergency room, James was sent home with an immobilizing cast, pain pills, anti-inflammatory pills, and instructions to see a specialist two days later.
We were so grateful that James’ injury wasn’t as bad as everyone first thought. While we still didn’t know what was going to happen, we felt blessed to be able to take him home.
When we went to the specialist on November 2nd, he determined that James wouldn’t need surgery. The swelling had gone down significantly, and James would only need to be put under anesthesia for a short time, have the bone set, and have a full-leg cast put on.
While not everything about his recovery has gone as smoothly has we had hoped (He has a sore on his heel that was caused by the cast which is still in the process of healing, but that would just make this story longer.), I am thankful James doesn’t even need a brace at this point.
During the past few months there have been countless reasons to choose gratitude in the midst of a trying situation.
- My son’s injury wasn’t as serious as everyone first thought. The ER staff was surprised the break wasn’t more severe than it turned out to be.
- Because I didn’t get a job this year, I was able to be home with my son for over 3 weeks taking care of him because the full leg cast made even something as simple as sitting down difficult.
- My son has learned many life lessons (I would have preferred he didn’t have to learn), but he has handled everything with patience and grace. I truly believe he will be a better person for having gone through this experience.
- This experience has not only given us more chances to rely on God, but we have also realized how many blessings we truly have.
While I have to admit I didn’t feel grateful when I first found out my son was injured, shifting my focus from what was going wrong to all that we had to be thankful for made such a difference.
It isn’t always easy to choose gratitude. I think sometimes our human nature is to complain, but making the choice to be thankful can be such a blessing, not only in our own lives but in the lives of those we encounter.
Here are 3 ways to choose gratitude, even in tough circumstances.
1. Give Thanks
Giving thanks in all circumstances is a pretty tall order. Many times we would rather complain. Yet, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that is exactly what we are called to do.
On that car ride to the hospital I mentioned earlier I was focusing on all of the negatives and I was stressed out. My knuckles were turning white, I was very tense, and I was a nervous wreck.
However, when I remembered I needed to thank God for all of his blessings and provision something wonderful happened, that stress just melted away.
When I decided to choose gratitude, I found comfort and peace which was yet another reason to give thanks.
2. Look for the Good in Every Situation
In my adult life I have faced many situations that, without God’s help and a desire to focus on the positive, I don’t know where I would be.
Four miscarriages, children with asthma and behavioral issues, hurtful comments, a schedule that was too busy, feeling like I had lost my joy, and not knowing God’s plan for my life were all times when it would have been easy to focus on the negative.
However, focusing on all of the blessings in my life brought light, God’s light, into my life during some dark times.
While it may seem like you are being a Pollyanna when you try to look for the good in every situation, that choice can bring such joy to your soul.
3. Focus on What You Have Instead of What You Don’t Have
It can be easy to get caught up in thinking about what we don’t have instead of what we do have. However, the attitude of always looking for more can make us miss out on the blessings we have.
Sure, my family doesn’t have the fanciest house, the nicest cars, the latest clothes, but we have enough.
I have a loving husband, five wonderful children, a nice home, vehicles to get us where we need to go, plenty of clothes to wear, and so much more.
By choosing to be grateful for what I do have instead of thinking about what I don’t, I have such peace and happiness in my life.
There is freedom in being thankful for what you have.
So, when those negative thoughts try to take over…choose gratitude.
When you feel like giving up…choose gratitude.
When everyone around you is angry…choose gratitude.
Today, and every day, you have a choice.
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How will you choose gratitude today?
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