Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Practicing Gratitude

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. --1 Thes. 5:16-18 

In yoga, there are certain observances taught that are called niyamas.  One of the niyamas is samtosha or contentment.  Contained in samtosha is the idea of practicing gratitude for things as they are.  As a Christian yoga practitioner, I see the parallel between this niyama and Paul's exhortation to the Thessalonians to "rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances."  Now, this habit is a difficult one to keep, even during the best of times.  And that's why we practice spiritual disciplines that we can learn to adhere to our principles in good times and hard times.

Over the last week and a half, life has tested my commitment to samtosha and to practicing gratitude in all circumstances.

Thirteen days ago, my lively seven-year-old came down with a fever.  She spent a couple listless days on the sofa.  The fever trended upwards.  I took her to the pediatrician.  Diagnosis: pneumonia.  We were sent home with a bottle of pink goo, sure to have her feeling better in 48 hours.  Forty-some hours later, the fever continued to climb.  Shots in the butt.  Heavier duty antibiotics.  This will surely patch her right up.  Thirty-six hours later, after fever spikes and what I can only describe as my internal Mommy alarm going off, we were in the ER getting an IV (it took them twice to get a line in) for electrolyte imbalance and another chest x-ray that showed the pneumonia was progressing, not abating.

Dear Jesus.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, my three-year-old son starts with a fever and coughing.  I take him in to the pediatrician.  Diagnosis: Virus.  Wait it out.  Fever continues to trend upward.  Give Tylenol for fever.  Child promptly vomits Tylenol and contents of stomach all over me.  Child breaks out in hives all over body.  Call Pediatrician.  Rinse and repeat...THREE TIMES.  At some point, the doctors decided to prescribe heavy duty antibiotics for my son, reasoning after the course of his sister's illness, there's no reason to play it cool. 

These things are happening simultaneously.  LORD have mercy.

Over the last week, especially, I've been really challenged.  In my faith, in my yoga practice, in my physical and emotional strength.  I've cried a few times and experienced moments of terror (is this a life-threatening situation?), I've thrown a few pity parties, and I've been angry.  I've yelled at my husband and my middle child, who told me I "never take care of her anymore."  I could not believe the lack of empathy from a five-year-old!  I've prayed angry prayers to God.

Yet, through all of it, I've felt the whispers of the Holy Spirit...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you...  I've remembered the gift of yoga that God has given me, and remembered that what I learn on the mat is useless if it doesn't translate into my life off the mat.

And so, I'm choosing to practice gratitude.

Thank you, God, for being the healer.  Through whatever means you choose.  At whatever pace you deem best.
Thank you, God, for wise doctors who care about our children.
Thank you, God, for friends who pray and trust and go to their knees on our behalf.
Thank you, God, for friends who bring care packages and meals and flowers and chocolate and wine.
Thank you, God, for pastors who come and pray and anoint with oil in the spirit of James 5:17.
Thank you, God, for health insurance.
Thank you, God, for my husband's flexibility to work from home.
Thank you, God, for my step-mom, a nurse and ER veteran, who doesn't mind staying up in the hospital until 3 am with us.
Thank you, God, for fellow yoga teachers who were willing to sub my classes on short notice.
Thank you, God, for pastors who bring coffee.  Especially, God, thank you for that.
Thank you, God, for Facebook and for the way it meant that an army of people have been praying for our kids and giving me emotional support and encouragement.
Thank you, God, for Instgram so I can take fun pictures of my sweet ones, even in the middle of this nightmare.
Thank you, God, for a wonderful therapist who has taught me how to be present in the moment, so I haven't been caught up in anxiety attacks in the middle of this.
Thank you, God, for letting this happen in the summer, so that it didn't cause my girl to miss two weeks of school.

And, thank you, God, that it seems like today, they are both doing a tiny bit better.

It really does feel better to count your blessings rather than your sorrows.  Life is hard.  But it is also beautiful.  What are YOU thankful for today?

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. --1 Thes. 5:16-18


  1. A wonderful blog post and a wonderful reminder of what it means to give thanks in everything. Love you all and still praying for you as well.

  2. Oh Sarah... this so so good... I mean realy good. Yes. You get it. This is exactly what God means, that in the midst of hard times you are reminded to reflect upward and give thanks for hard times. This is when the roller coaster dives downward and you hang on for dear life and pray... and it doesn't matter if your house is a mess and you are feeding your kids popcorn for dinner. God just hungers for our attention. THat is living out the Gospel.

  3. Love the honesty in your post - with both the gratitude/thankfulness as well as frustration, fear and exhaustion. I pray your sweet children are well very soon.

  4. You must be the most beautiful person I know. Under those circumstances, I'd have had more than just a few pity parties. So glad all are well and that we'll see you all soon!