November 23, 2007

Be Our Guest / Patti Lamb

Give glory to God each day, and make every day one of Thanksgiving

Perspective and gratitude. I think those are two of the best words to describe what this past month has given me.

I wanted to share this perspective with others in the hope that it might make you reconsider your own abundant blessings.

A week after the birth of my second child, I developed rare post-delivery complications and suddenly found myself riding in the back of an ambulance at 2 a.m., teeth chattering from fear, lights flashing, racing to the hospital.

And suddenly everything was out of my control. Everything became dependent on someone else, from the empathetic paramedic who tried to calm me down on the way to the hospital by distracting me with Beatles music trivia to the compassionate surgeon who was called to work in the middle of the night.

It is terrifying when everything is out of your control, when suddenly everything is dependent on someone else. When you await test results with clenched hands and there is nothing you can do to “fix it.” You realize that when you are sick, you have to rely solely on others.

And all the while, you should have been relying solely on God. I found myself talking to God a lot more during my time of sickness than I had in the past few months. When things are beyond your control, you are reminded that you must cling to God and not to your fear.

After the hospital stay, I was weak and ordered by the doctor to get plenty of rest. That’s a tall order with a new infant and a toddler who enjoys playing hide-and-seek with necessary household items like the car keys, baby wipes and remote control. So things continued to be out of my control.

That’s when family and friends and neighbors stepped up to help me and my husband and our children. They’ve done just everything—from taking night duty with a newborn baby to making meals to helping with laundry. And the support goes way beyond that.

It seems that when illness or tragedy strikes, people are motivated to be their best selves. They rise to the occasion and their Christ-light shines. Neighbors come over to check on you—and they even do diaper runs! Family members cook, clean and baby-sit.

They also offer their prayers for you, and those prayers really do help. When I felt helpless and guilty for having to accept so much help, one of my sisters gently reminded me, “God is giving me and others an opportunity to help, to be good stewards of our gifts. Your time will come to help someone else, but right now this is our chance to help.”

I’m embarrassed to say it, but illness and suffering were what it took for me to gain some perspective. I only wish there didn’t have to be such dramatic events to prompt me to count my blessings.

So now I have a new attitude when the car breaks down or I overcook dinner or my 3-year-old son draws on the new computer monitor with a Sharpie marker. I’ve learned to categorize these instances according to what they really are—minor inconveniences. Now I try to say to myself, “Hey, I’m here, and life is good. So very good.”

Just days after I had what I considered to be a health crisis, the St. Susanna Parish family lost a dear young friend after his struggle with a malignant brain tumor.

Joseph Mulholland III, 10, passed away after fighting a heartbreaking health battle. And I realized my health scare was just that—a scare—a brief health setback.

I can’t even imagine how young Joseph had such strength in the face of his illness. I wish God’s peace for his family, and invite you to add them to your prayers. Seeing someone you love decline and suffer is beyond difficult. It makes me think of the sorrow that Mary must have felt watching Jesus on the cross.

To make matters even more difficult for Joseph’s family, the medical bills mounted as his cancer treatments were considered “experimental” and were therefore denied by insurance.

St. Susanna Parish and the Plainfield community rallied to organize a benefit to put a considerable dent in the increasing medical bills, but the family still has much to pay. I can only imagine how frustrating this must be after the loss of a child—to keep receiving bills would only be stressful and bring back memories of the hope that came with each treatment.

This Thanksgiving, I’ve learned to be thankful beyond any amount of gratitude I’ve ever known. Each day is a gift. Each breath is a gift. I’ll never be able to thank God for all his abundant blessings that I might have otherwise taken for granted.

I hope you find yourself overwhelmed with God’s abundant blessings this Thanksgiving season. There is just so much to be thankful for. So let’s try to give glory to God with each new day. Let us make every day one of thanksgiving.

(Patti Lamb is a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield. Contributions can be made to the Joseph Mulholland Medical Account through St. Susanna Catholic Church, 1210 E. Main St., Plainfield, IN 46168.) †

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