Thankful: feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Today, a day of Thanksgiving, I ponder the difference between the words gratitude and thankful. It surprised me to find that being thankful is a FEELING and gratitude is the EXPRESSION of that feeling!
Now you know!
I have so many things for which to be thankful. Ready food in my cabinets, a lovely place to live, a warm bed, a husband who adores me.
Recently, I heard someone say they were grateful for the alcoholic in their life. That because of the disease, they have found help and peace. I’ve heard others say they are grateful for an accident that somehow turned their life around or made a difference in someone else’s life – think MADD. Mothers’ Against Drunk Driving, started because of the loss of a child by a drunk driver. They’ve made an impact that has cut drunk driving deaths in half. Their goal is to have 0 drunk drivers on the road.
For me, it begs the question, is there anything about my husband’s accident for which to be thankful? Can I be thankful FOR the accident?
Surely life would be better if he could walk. Surely if we had to choose before or after we would choose before. But it’s not that simple.
We were married just 5 years before the accident. Not enough time to work through the many kinks of a relationship – how money is spent, how we relate to each other, what our pet peeves are and how we can accept each other, faults and all.
The accident in June, 2015 and the aftermath took first precedence for a year or so. When we came up for air, moving in together in 2016, we began to work on our relationship again, finding our way back to each other, finding our rhythm. It’s clear that some things that seemed so important before are not so important when stacked up against a life-changing event. We are both so thankful that he is alive when he could so easily have been killed in that accident.
After the accident, as if a veil were lifted from his eyes, my husband came to see things in our relationship differently. He came to see me differently. Instead of trying to change me, he now sees my strengths. The very things he wanted to change are the strengths that have allowed me to stay in this relationship and take care of him as a paraplegic.
He has become more humble and, instead of giving much of his time and energy to neighbors, friends, his church, he has learned to receive. It’s a gift to be able to both give and receive.
Our relationship today is much better. We work more as a team. We communicate more with each other; we make more decisions as a couple and fewer decisions as an individual.
When I rail against God about this accident, how it’s affected our day-to-day lives, how much has changed– how we travel, where we can stay, what events we can attend together, my spiritual friend has asks me, “Would you want the Arthur you have now, as a paraplegic who appreciates you more or the Arthur you had before the accident who could walk, but didn’t see your side of things?” It’s not an easy question to answer because it’s not black and white. Things rarely are.
Arthur does appreciate me more. He is grateful I stuck by him, even when he was crazy on drugs and calling his ex-wife 80 times. (Not kidding!) He always loved me, but the love we have for each other now is deeper and richer. We just plain enjoy each other’s company!
Which Arthur would I choose- before or after the accident? Of course I would want him to walk again. We still pray for that every day. However, the accident brought out so many blessings for Arthur including bringing all of his children to his bedside, and in the end, it brought us closer together. I am writing a book, I am working from home, I am using the accident to help others.
We are now in this paraplegic world so we have a unique perspective. If I can be a light for someone else, if together we can help others, then the accident will have served a purpose. It won’t have been in vain.
And for that, I am both thankful and grateful.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving!
The Italian Grandmama