March 8, 2016

My head felt like a fifty pound weight balancing precariously on a toothpick.  At any moment, it might snap.  It hurt to ride in a car.  It hurt to sit in a chair.  It hurt to turn my head from side to side.

My husband Doug affectionately referred to me as his “china doll”.  Fragile.  Handle with care.

The MRI would reveal a bulging disc in the neck.  Ouch.  The headaches and neck pain left me crippled.  I begged God for mercy.  After two months of intense pain, sadness was no longer knocking at the door.  It had broken in and showed no signs of leaving.

Finally, a steroid injection delivered some pain relief.  But I longed for my normal state of mind.

I needed help so went to see my wise counselor Mary.

“I have a little relief from the injection, but how do I get rid of this sadness?” I asked Mary.


It can’t be that simple.  I gave Mary a skeptical “really??” look.

“Try it out,” Mary said.  “I’m thankful for ______.”

“I’m thankful I can ride in the car for 10 minutes without my neck hurting, but I really hope sometime soon I’ll be able to go longer.”

“Try it again – this time without the “but”.”

“I’m thankful I can ride in the car for 10 minutes without my neck hurting.”

Mary was right.  It did feel different.  Removing the “but” changed the whole intent of the sentence.  It caused a focus on the present.  A focus on blessings versus issues.  She told me to try a few more.

“I’m thankful for my husband taking care of me even though I wish I could take care of myself,” I rattled off.

Mary called me on it quickly, “You’re substituting “even though” for “but”.  They are really the same.  Try again.”

“I’m thankful for my husband taking care of me.  I’m thankful for steroid injections.  I’m thankful I can drive again.”

I could feel the weight of sadness lifting – it was slowly but surely being kicked to the curb.  It would take time (and more thankfulness) to take full effect.

I’m thankful I don’t feel dizzy anymore when I walk.  I’m thankful for my friend Heather making us dinner.  I’m thankful I don’t have excruciating head pain.

If you’re wrestling with pain or sadness, remember thankfulness is the best medicine for your mind.


Categories: Growth Thankfulness Wisdom
Tags: medicine, pain, sadness, thankfulness,

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