What a presumptuous title, huh? Speaking from personal experience and observation, I have found that no matter what circumstance you find yourself in currently, if you look around you, you can almost always find someone else who is going through an even more difficult circumstance.
Two Thanksgivings ago, I was not in a good place. I had just been diagnosed with cancer and had 3 major surgeries (the last being an emergency life-saving surgery) to remove 16 tumors, all within a 6 week period. That Thanksgiving, I was home, but I couldn’t walk from my bedroom to my living room because I was so weak. I had lost 50 lbs in a month’s time. I would eat 1 peanut butter cracker as my only food for an entire day. If anyone could feel down about their current circumstances, and be excused in most people’s minds, it would have been me. But one of the things that I felt was important was to focus on the needs of others during that time. It kept things in perspective for me. I wasn’t unique. I didn’t have the corner on illness or sickness. The world didn’t revolve around me and my situation.
It was frustrating because I would ask those who came to visit me about things in their life or how a mutual acquaintance of ours was doing, and more often than not, people would reply with, “Oh, well I can’t complain. I mean compared to you, my situation is nothing.” Those statements would break my heart. I wanted to help. I wanted to support others and encourage others, and by making that statement, they were robbing me of that opportunity. Just because I had something going on my life didn’t mean that I stopped caring for others around me and the things that were important in theirs.
I would walk into my oncologist’s office and I would see the people in the treatment room…it was breathtaking the first time I saw that. You could see some receiving their chemo treatments that were old and frail and just looked completely defeated as they sat in their recliner with the IV pumping into them. You’d also see kids, so innocent with their whole life ahead of them, sitting there too and going through things that none of us as parents could ever imagine happening to someone so young. You’d see some with full heads of hair that you knew were just starting down this road, and others who looked like they have been on a very journey. Then I would look at myself in the mirror and I knew that I had nothing to complain about compared to what others were enduring.
This Thanksgiving, I am cancer free. Long gone are the days of eating 1 peanut butter cracker as my only source of food for a day. I will stuff myself until I feel like I will pop with all of the food that will be available to me. I’ll have no trouble walking from one room to another, I run 5K’s now. Life is good for me, but I’ll share the table with others who are hurting, in despair, and lonely. My path will cross with people who are going through secret circumstances that I could never imagine. I am blessed. And so are you.
If you are going through a tough situation currently, let me encourage you to stay positive and focus on others during this time. It’s amazing what serving others can do for your heart, and your circumstances.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!