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When You're Thankful for the Lessons Learned but Not the Disease

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‘Tis the season. It is the time of year that we take time to be thankful and remember all of the blessings we have. But this year, there is one thing I am not thankful for, and I am not sure I ever will be. I must admit, I am just not thankful for Parkinson’s.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

I know, it’s kind of ironic that a post during this time of year would start off with something I am not thankful for. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots to be thankful for: a wonderful, loving wife, two amazing children, a supportive and amazing family, a home, job, funds to pay bills, a great job and ministry, and so much more. This list is just the tip of the iceberg. I could fill a page with hundreds of things I could be thankful for, but I just cannot bring myself to be thankful for Parkinson’s or my other chronic illnesses.

How can you be thankful for something that causes so much pain, so much discouragement, so much frustration and so much uncertainty for the future. I have had to make awful decisions in the face of this disease, and I have watched my family walk through pain and discouragement, and I am unable to fix it for them. How in the world could I be thankful for this?

As hard as this year has been, and as unthankful as I am for Parkinson’s, I do have many things from this past year I can be thankful for. I am thankful that this last year, I have begun once again to see what is truly important. So often we get so caught up in insignificant things that we lose sight of what is most important, and this year I have been reminded of what really is important in life.

This last year, I have let go of many frustrations and aggravations, and realized they are not worth my time and energy. Some things that used to upset me and frustrate me just are not worth getting worked up over. Over the past several months, I have realized how unintentional I can sometimes be in life. I have not taken time for the things I should, and not been intentional in how I lived and interacted with others. I have not made time for what is most important, and I am seeing this type of attitude cannot continue.

I have also seen that in some ways my focus is not where it should have been. It is easy to lose focus or focus on the less important things and miss what is truly important and what needs our attention. I have been reminded this year that I have limited time to impact others. I have had to ask myself, what I am doing with this most recent life circumstance? This thought has helped me re-evaluate and refocus on what I really need to spend time on.

This year has reminded me how important family and friends really are. The love, care, and support we give to one another cannot be understated. It is something that many times we take for granted, and something we often let small things get in the way of, but showing each other this love and support is so very important.

I also have been reminded how petty and small so many offenses are. We get worked up over things that really are not important, and instead of forgiveness, we carry anger, hurt and even bitterness, and we allow it to separate us from those we love. With such limited time on earth, we really do not have time for this.

This list represents just some of the things I have learned this year, and as hard as it is to admit this, I am not sure I would have seen them without my most recent health challenge. This diagnosis has shown or reminded me of things I needed to see. Don’t get me wrong, I hate this disease, but some things in me have changed as a result of this illness.

I am not, and probably will not ever be, thankful for Parkinson’s disease. But I am thankful for what it has shown me and reminded me of. For through these reminders, I am once again seeing what truly is important.

As I said above, I am not thankful for Parkinson’s, but I am thankful for the things I have been reminded of this year, and I am thankful for the new perspective it has given me in so many areas. I pray that each of us can find things to give thanks for.

Follow this journey at Day by Day

Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

Originally published: December 31, 2019
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