Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cure for Despair

Life does bad stuff to us sometimes.

I was thinking about my husband's mysterious illness last year in the spring, exactly at this time. He was hospitalized off and on over the period of a couple of months, while the doctors were baffled as to what was causing his extreme symptoms. At one point, assuming he had bacterial meningitis, they told me he would not live through the night. There were times of fear and times of frustration as they performed yet another blood test, MRI, or spinal tap, getting frightening test results, but without being able to isolate the cause of illness. I often couldn't sleep, often couldn't eat, and wondered if my family could survive such upheaval. Prayer becomes your constant activity, no matter if you are alone in an elevator, or crouching in a closet. And despair is hard to hold off.

After awhile, I discovered an antidote to fear and despair. I know it is so obvious, but it wasn't to me in that circumstance. I discovered almost accidentally, that I could keep my spirits up by focusing on what was right, and mentally counting up all I could think of: 1) I have good supportive children, 2) the sun is shining, 3) a friend came to visit in the hospital and brought oranges which gave me something to eat for breakfast, 4) I can see a blossoming tree out of the hospital room window, 5) I got a good parking spot in the hospital parking lot that morning . . .


After several weeks, my husband was transferred to a specialized hospital, an hour away in a big city. I had not seen all my children for days and he was worsening significantly. I had to stretch very hard to find something to be grateful for. I left my husband for a moment to go to the cafeteria and had to walk through the children's ward of the hospital on my way there. I was flooded with gratitude that my children are healthy!

It was miraculous to me to experience the relief that comes from counting my blessings! And it works whether we are in life threatening circumstances, or just having trouble facing last night's dinner dishes.

Concentrating on the good helps our minds be relieved of all that is not right. Sometimes motherhood can be overwhelming. If you have many children, each one may have needs or issues that seem more than you can handle. There are days when housework, or even just laundry, can swallow you up. The economy and financial difficulties can make the future frighteningly uncertain. A sure relief is to count what is good, what is right, and all the small ways you are blessed. It is so refreshing to the spirit, and helps get the focus off everything that is wrong.

Count your blessings.
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings—see what God has done!

P.S. My husband was finally diagnosed with Handel's Syndrome--a rare and self-limited disorder in which a virus enters the spinal column and brain and wrecks havoc neurologically, until the body's immune system overtakes it. It has been nearly a year now, and he is totally healed and well, and we are so very grateful for that miracle!

And I am so thankful to have learned so many lessons from that grueling experience, including remembering that the cure for despair lies in being grateful.

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11 Comments:

  • At April 22, 2009 at 5:38 AM , Blogger Renee said...

    Diane, I normally read your posts in the email feed, but I had to come and just say Amen! This is something I have to constantly remind myself of. I came from a family who generally looked for, and found, the worst in things. It takes tremendous effort to overcome that mindset and think positively. Gratitude is most certainly the key. This winter it seemed death and despair were all around us, and what kept me going was remembering all the wonderful gifts from God, and knowing that death and despair are not from him. I'm so glad your husband is well again, and thankful for his strong wife, who gives encouragement to so many people!

     
  • At April 22, 2009 at 6:55 AM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Thanks so much for the encouragement! Every time I write a blog, I have a twinge of "is this good enough to share, or weird?" and it helped so much to read your comment!

    It's easy to see the negative. I don't know why. Maybe we live in a world of critics. Maybe because I am a writer and look with an eagle eye for errors, misspellings, etc., it is easy to transfer that trait of looking for what is wrong over into the rest of life. I think many of us battle to keep a gratitude mindset. But I do know that focusing on what is wrong is the way to despair!

    Thanks so much for your comment! Have a happy day!

     
  • At April 22, 2009 at 8:57 AM , Blogger bfarish1800 said...

    Oh Diane, I don't usually comment because of the "is it good enough" thing myself, but I just had to say thank you for sharing. I look forward to your comments. Your posts are from the depths of your experiences and not just cerebral contemplations. This post is so spot on. I was told to journal some negative health symptoms I was having and it was really making me focus on all the negative until I had the idea to make a joy journal at the same time. Focusing on the positive is the answer. We have so many little things to be thankful for that we could overlook unless we're LOOKING for them. Thanks!

     
  • At April 22, 2009 at 5:09 PM , Blogger Toni said...

    wow, what a rough time to go through. and it is hard to stay positive your right, and stoppign to see the little gifts god sends us to help us thorugh is a wonderful thing. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Hey don;t ever wonder if your blog entry is good enough to read, what ismost imprtant is it comes from you heart

     
  • At April 24, 2009 at 12:27 PM , Blogger Cindy said...

    I don't normally comment, but wanted to say a big thank you for this post. I have noticed recently that in many different areas, I am not very far from despair. The economy, the environment, my difficult 13 year old, my chronically ill 20 year old--each situation causes me despair if I think about it too much. I have been trying to figure out ways to combat these feelings, and I had not thought of anything so simple or profound as counting my blessings. Thank you!

    I am glad your husband is doing well. Medical nightmares are no fun!

     
  • At April 26, 2009 at 7:06 AM , Blogger T said...

    What a perfect post for this day and age. As we face the uncertain future, uncertain job front, housing front, unknown illnesses and so forth. With the outbreak of the Swine flu it is yet another negative "thing" that gets me worried. Do I have my years supply ready? Am I forsaking the world and fortifying my spirit more fully to combat Satan's attack on me and my family? Can I really take that step of pulling my children out of public schools and teaching them myself? Can I find time to give 100% to my callings in church when I am trying to get my house in order and my family safe? Yes! I can! It is all about attitude! Satan uses discouragement to tear us down and thanks to you I will use gratitude to build myself up again. This is a post that will be posted again on the fridge and carefully tucked into the pages of my journal for what I am sure will be many future readings! You are awesome, thank you for your many examples of righteous living in the last days! You are a modern day pioneer!

     
  • At May 2, 2009 at 10:04 AM , Blogger Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage said...

    Diane,
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am having a good deal of trouble sitting here typing because of extreme back pain. I thank you for giving me another means to cope. I know that God will heal me.

    I thank God that He's healed your husband.

    Blessings,
    Laura Lane
    Carthage MO

     
  • At May 9, 2009 at 11:08 AM , Blogger connor simper said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At May 17, 2009 at 5:22 PM , Blogger Rachel said...

    We've just had a week of "despair". My dear mother - only 61 years old and heavily involved in all of her children's, grandchildrens, and friends lives - fell suddenly ill on Saturday and went to heaven the next day - Mother's Day.

    The funeral was so beautiful. It was a real celebration, not just of her life, but of her new life. We'll miss her. But it is comforting to know that she is in heaven and we'll see her again.

    Rachel
    http://weshallmountupwithwings.blogspot.com

     
  • At August 3, 2009 at 9:14 PM , Blogger Elisha Jones said...

    Last night I came across your blog and have just loved it. It is a breath of fresh air. I am glad to hear that your husband is doing well. I was so grateful to read this entry. I know how looking for the blessings in our lives truly helps us through the adversity. I lost my baby son in March and at the moment thought I would never be happy again, but I chose to turn to the Lord and look for all the blessings out of the experience and what I needed to learn. He had definately prepared me in advance though I didn't know it at the time. I am continually seeing the blessings that have come through that hard trial and have grown stronger. Instead of being bitter, I am at peace.

     
  • At August 3, 2009 at 10:37 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    What a sweet post--I am so glad you wrote it and let your wonderful attitude bless us too. It is so hard to go through things, I can't imagine how you endured. But the Lord can turn everything to our good, no matter how devastating, if we trust in Him. Thanks for sharing!

     

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