When a Woman Thanked Me for Smiling Through My Pain

The first time I saw the “Serenity Prayer,” I was a little girl. My grandmother had it beautifully framed and displayed on her kitchen wall. I’ve been reciting it to myself ever since.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

What those words mean to me is this: You do what you reasonably can to improve a situation and then let it go, leaving the rest in God’s hands. In other words, “It is what it is.”

That way of thinking has kept me going through some pretty tough times. And it’s why I keep smiling. After you’ve done all you can, there’s nowhere else to look but forward with hope.

But there are some people, and they always surprise me, who see through my smile and down to the struggle I fight to stay happy. It happened most recently just a few weeks ago.

You see, I’ve gotten really good at deflecting the question, “How are you?” Everyone is fighting some type of battle. Why should I complain? But I won’t say I’m fine either, because I’m not. So I say “I’m maintaining” or “happy to be here” because it’s the truth. I am maintaining – keeping my head above water. And if I fought through pain, fatigue, nausea and a host of other a symptoms to get where I needed to be that day, then I count it an accomplishment.

I responded this way one particular Sunday at my place of worship, and the response I got blew me away. I had already considered this person a friend, she’s a sweetheart and you can’t help but like her. But what she said to me that day will moved me more than she could have known.

She told me she knew I must always be in pain, and that it meant so much to her that I smiled through it. She didn’t assume that I must be feeling better since I was out and about that day. She didn’t assume that it couldn’t be that bad, otherwise how could I go on. She didn’t presume to understand either. She just thanked me for trying so hard to be positive. She told me it encouraged her to be more positive and count the blessings in her life.

To her I want to say, “Thank you too. How did you know that’s what I needed to hear that day?”

When I first got sick, I determined to not let chronic illness take away my joy. I didn’t want to cast a dark cloud over the lives of my loved ones. I wanted to maintain my hope and faith, to share that hope and faith with others. I had no idea then how hard that struggle would prove to be. Her words told me I was still on the right track, and they were an answer to what I had been praying about.

I hope one day I can return the favor and be an answer to her prayers too – filling some unspoken need in a providential way. Until then I’ll keep smiling through my pain. It’s what reminds me that I still have much to be thankful for.

Follow this journey on The Dizzy Optimist.

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Thinkstock Image By: Thomas Northcut

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