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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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