Finding the Rare Blessings Among the Hard Days

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by Lori Dunham |

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“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us. In my eyes, the Christmas season begins Nov. 1 and gloriously continues through the end of December.

Although I haven’t yet broken out the Christmas lights and decorations, it seems like people are decking the halls early this year. Perhaps this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the disappointments we have had to face the past two years. Or, maybe people are just looking to fill their days with a little extra joy.

However, we would be remiss to overlook Thanksgiving. For our family, this is more than a time of indulging in turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It’s a time to take stock of all the things we are thankful for in this life.

I’d venture to say that those of us living with or caring for a loved one with a rare disease have the ability to be thankful for things that others might take for granted. For instance, we no longer take for granted the ability to walk, because we see our daughter, Grace, who is living with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), fight for that ability every day. We don’t take for granted the ability to get out of bed in the morning, or to be able to run into the grocery store for a few things. We appreciate health insurance and modern medicine more than ever before. Every day, we see Grace struggle to do things others wouldn’t even think twice about.

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Learning to be joyful

Living with LEMS offers us the ability to try to find joy in the little things. Yes, this disease has the potential to steal dreams and careers, mobility and movement, but if we look purposefully and carefully, we can appreciate life and find the joy in it. We get the rare blessing of being grateful for the things that might usually be taken for granted by others. I choose to see this as a gift.

Sometimes it can be hard to see the goodness in life, to fully be appreciative of what we have. Some days are harder than others, but through it all, I do strive to keep searching for gifts when things seem bleak or hopeless. 

Following are some ways I try to see the gifts in my life, and to count my blessings.

I put pen to paper. Research suggests that writing down gifts that we are thankful for can increase our happiness. It is a habit that I incorporated into my daily schedule long before my daughter got sick. I think it’s a good idea to put them in a jar or notebook to be able to reflect on them.

I give thanks in prayer. We are a family who prays. When our prayers bubble over with thanksgiving, our joy grows exponentially. Expressing and putting to words all I recognize the Lord doing in our life fills me with joy and lets me know God is attentive to my needs.

I say “thanks” more. It is good to speak words of gratitude and thanks to those around me. A positive word is powerful and can be a great source of encouragement.

I write “thanks” more, too. I also make a point of spending a few minutes to write a note of thanks and encouragement to someone who might need a lift. I know when I can make someone’s day just a bit brighter, some of that sunshine falls back on me, too.

Today, we must choose how to spend our time. We must decide what to spend our time doing and endeavor to recognize and appreciate all we have to be thankful for. Doing so will indeed make this the most wonderful time of the year.

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Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.

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