Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

One of the disadvantages of suffering from a chronic disease, aside from the on-again, off-again symptoms and the whole lack of a cure issue, is that it is all too easy to grow weary and discouraged. While in the U.S. working, I found comfort in the friendship of my co-workers, and also in the words of Joel Osteen. Just like most Swedes, I’ve never been very religious, if religious at all. However, faced with adversity and repeated weeks in the hospital has a way of changing that, at least to a degree. Though I wouldn’t call myself a Christian just yet, I have a newfound respect and understanding of those who do.

One of the things Joel says, and that I really like, is that God wants good things for us. He avoids talking of sin and suffering and how guilty we are. As he says, we already know our own faults and flaws better than anyone, and we don’t need someone new rubbing it in up there in the pulpit. There are enough people who do that. Rather, he says, we need people who speak faith into our lives, who tell us that we are special, and that there is hope. One of his themes is that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done wrong in the past, but rather what you’re willing to do right in the present.

When I was diagnosed with my illness, it felt like my life came crashing down around my ears. A lot of my plans ended up having to change, some short term, some long term. Joel spoke of how sometimes hardships are God’s way of shaking things up, of prodding us in new directions when we are unwilling to go there on our own. Oddly enough, despite all the pain and suffering I’ve gone through, I find that in virtually all ways my life is better now than it was before I became severely ill.

My personal relationships are better, and I’ve grown closer to those who matter to me. I’ve had new career opportunities open up after showing myself able to handle hardship. I ended up moving, which was a very positive move. Finally, I’ve come to empathize more with people who are ill and going through hard times, as well as becoming more tolerant of those who are religious. I will admit that prior to my trip to the US and my illness, I was one of those militant atheist, Richard Dawkins types. Thankfully, I’ve evolved and become more open-minded.

What I’m most grateful of all for, however, is my newfound ability to appreciate the small things in life I previously thought of as a natural right. Going out to a restaurant with friends and laughing over a glass of wine, or spending an evening at home with the love of my life, playing a match of tennis, or eating a Sunday dinner with my parents all seem so much more important now that I don’t take the activities for granted.

There is sunshine to be found, if one is just willing to endure the rainy weather, and then look up when the sky clears.

tree-in-sunlight

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~ by Escaping Perdition on March 4, 2009.

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