Gratitude Through Adversity

Gratitude Through Adversity

By: Elizabeth Lewis

You may have heard how important it is to live in the state of gratitude. I’ve heard this for years, and practiced this “when I remembered”…. but it wasn’t until I watched “The Secret” and borrowed one of their ideas, that I actually started TRULY practicing gratitude every day!! What do I do? I have a small rock/ stone that I’ve typed/ glued the word “gratitude.” I put it in my pocket every morning naming something for which I’m grateful. Throughout the day as I touch it, I name another thing for which I’m grateful. At day’s end, yet another. When I began, I just named things that everyone says they’re thankful (kids, family, friends, house, food, job, etc)….. BUT after a while, I started naming things I’d not say in a prayer to thank God for (i.e. dry underwear, multiple pair of shoes, running water that can get hot or cold, clean pillow case. carpet under my feet). I always try to think of things I’ve not named before. THIS is how to truly live in DAILY gratitude. Then when things go wrong in life, I’m so used to be grateful that I see the blessings in the bad things that happen to me or my loved ones.

So, this last week I got a cancer diagnosis (an eye melanoma that is treatable so I WILL live) but I’ll lose some eyesight after the 1st year. Even for someone like me who lives in daily gratitude, you wouldn’t believe how blue the sky is (the same sky I saw and was grateful for yesterday). How luscious the trees and flowers look. The air smells fresh, clean and crisp (even with the humidity). I see more people smiling when I smile at them. Skin feels softer. I see the good in everyone even though we all are not always good. You get the idea. Even though I’m not going to become totally blind or anything, how grateful I am for all my senses (esp my eyes to see). All of a sudden all the petty things of the world FALL away!! Seriously, who cares if people make judgements, talk mean, if it rains when I want the sun to shine. If I’m cold with the AC is set on frigid. If my muscles hurt from working out. If my jeans are a little snug or my wrinkles are increasing in number. I’m SO grateful for it all.

All this because I got a cancer diagnosis (and a have a great chance I’ll survive). How many people do you know that have been diagnosed with cancer? (I feel sure almost ALL of us can name at least 1 person right now– probably 5-10). Or a perhaps disease they have they didn’t plan on having at an early age? I know there are so many partly because I’m 50 so my friends are “aging” and new “diagnosis’” are being discovered. But, oh, how lucky we are with advanced technology, great doctors and more advanced treatments. So grateful!

So my thoughts for my children– EVERYTHING you put in your mouth, every behavior/choice you make now WILL show up later in life. It’ll show up in a healthy body/mind or in the form of a disease/illness. When you’re 20 and healthy, who wants to put on sunscreen? Everyone wants a “tan.” Or who wants to pass up that chocolate cake and eat fruit instead? Or floss to keep healthy gums? Or go for a check up? (Not just physical but also a therapist to keep your mind sharp so you can process life with an objective party). My plea— make better choices NOW with what you put in your mouth and the choices you make. You’ll be glad (when you’re 50) you did!

My thoughts to my friends….. we’re so stuck in the technology world (me included) that when someone posts a prayer concern (and there are so many a day of people who need them)… what do we do? We say “I’ll pray for you” on a Facebook post. Now, I’m not saying it’s bad to post– in fact, please post because we can’t pray unless we know what’s going on…. AND I know MOST of my friends really DO pray but there are so many concerns that come across Facebook, in addition to our neighbors, family and church friends…that unless we actually write them down in something like a prayer journal or on a reminder praying app (I use Prayer Notebook), there’s no way we can keep up with all the people for whom we need to pray. So what I’m suggesting is actually CALL the person who needs prayer! You know, on the telephone … and actually PRAY with the one who needs that prayer. I know the thought is, “Oh he’s too busy and I don’t want to bother him.” He might in fact be busy and let it go to voice mail, but leave the prayer there. How comforting it’d be to have a voice mail filled up with prayers with people who love this person you say you’ll pray. What if you’re uncomfortable with saying a prayer aloud? Maybe pick a Bible verse, or a copy prayer from on line. Or just let them know you’re sending positive energy their way. Or how about copy this, “Dear God. Please give ____ your healing power and peace as he/she goes through this tough time. Amen.” Boom! Done! It’s easier than you think and appreciated more than you’ll ever know. The one struggling needs to HEAR from family and friends. Needs to hear positive thoughts. Not advice or how their situation is worse than yours. (It’s not a contest- ha). I’m not saying this so everyone will call me– haha!! I’m saying this for the next person that is in need of prayer. We need to have a way to keep up with all those who really need prayer AND follow through on what we say we’re going to do!

Final thoughts — say I love you more.<3  No one ever gets tired of hearing that. You’ll more than likely get an I love you back and it feels good to hear it back. Embrace life– look for new life adventures and seize the day! Reflect on the legacy you’re going to leave when it IS your time to leave this place. We all want to leave a legacy. More actively live in the state of gratitude. Do you want a gratitude rock? I’ll give you one! (I’ve given to many of my family and friends). Make your own? It’s just a rock. 🙂 It’s what you DO with that rock that matters! It’ll help with times get tough!!

I love you. All of you. If you ask me to pray for you, I’m going to pray for you and I’m certainly going to get better about calling my friends who ask for prayer. We can all get better at something– this is how I’ll try to improve.

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13 thoughts on “Gratitude Through Adversity

  1. Dear Elizabeth,
    May you be surrounded with grace and peace as you take this part of the journey!

    I really enjoyed reading this…here’s a twist to consider: You wrote about gratitude and you wrote about what we put in our mouth…I got an image of the expressed gratitude being consciously “consumed” and becoming the food of our lives…(must be the Catholic theologian in me!) I love the image and will make it part of my ongoing prayer. Thank you!

    PS I almost picked up the phone, but then remembered that you are a couple hours behind me!!

    Shine today, my lovely friend!


  2. Elizabeth – So encouraging, from the heart, and, would you write any other way?, … upbeat! Through the recent years I find myself spending more and more of my time in reflection, gratitude, and prayer. For example, the thousands of miles I log on my bike each year used to, when I was riding solo, be occupied with music via the iPod … I now find that time most occupied in prayer. You are in my thoughts, heart, and prayers … faith, hope, and love. Mike


  3. Thanks for sharing and above all loving us all. I haven’t met you yet, but look forward to it. By the way, I love you too!!!


  4. Dear Elizabeth,

    We don’t know each other yet. I am your sister in Eye Cancer (Ocular Melanoma)

    Alison Meyer is my cousin and contacted me today. I was diagnosed in Jan 2012 and went through radioactive plaque therapy treatment with Drs.Augsberger and Correa at University of CincinnatI Hospital.

    Faith, family and friends are the only ingredients besides their world-renowned medicine that have gotten us this far.

    Thanks to Drs Augsberger and Correa, I have my eye and vision (although reduced) and continue to be cancer free, 3 years later.

    This is such a rare cancer (only 2500 diagnoses per year in the U.S.) Lets connect whenever it’s good for you. “Eye am Not Alone” was the theme of the Ocular Melanoma conference this year.

    Sending you and your family God’s light and love. Contact me day or night my friend.


    • Thank you Helen. Heck of a club to be in, huh? Appreciate your comment. Yes it’s rare although the 2nd most common eye cancer. I feel like I’m under good care through UL Physicians. “Eye” find out tomorrow if the cancer is contained in my eye. That’s my prayer. Then I can move forward with the surgery. Find me on Facebook or on my website. I could ask you questions like “Does it hurt?” and “How much sight did you lose?” I don’t want to post my number here but you can message me on either of those and I’ll send you my number.


  5. Elizabeth, I’m only just beginning to know you & am impressed by your faith in God, love of life & love for others. The other day I mentioned you were on my mind as I cycle through the countryside, that’s where I do my deepest thinking, praying & giving gratitude for the life I’ve lived.
    My prayer for you; Dear Jesus, I pray you will lay your healing hand upon Elizabeth, let the cancer be limited to her eye & guide the surgeons hand in shrinking & removing the tumor forever. I pray you keep her with us on earth for a long time as I can tell she’s been like a bright light for many. Thank you again for your sacrifice, your love & your grace. Amen


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