Updated: May 12
Reflecting back on when this global pandemic first reached these United States, I was hoping that it passes quickly, or not stop at all. However, as time progressed my emotional meter started to move from cautiously optimistic to pessimistically petulant, and waves of cabin fever started to wash over me. More than once my family and I had to have a sit down and reassess how we were dealing with each other as a byproduct of the pandemic. We committed (and re-committed) to becoming a more emotionally healthy family, and a part of that was for us to recognize when we were getting short with each other.
As the pandemic lingers and the phases for reopening come all too slowly, I feel myself getting agitated. When I consider the inundation of information on the news about the virus I want to yell. At times it feels like I am hearing more about what will not happen, than I am hearing anything that would put a silver lining on this dark cloud. My ability to exercise, expend some energy, and exert my frustrations are also hampered by the closing of gyms and other spots of recreation.
I am not exactly sure when the shift began to take place. I have had a change of heart that has prompted me to be thankful for the things I do have, and look at the benefits of the pandemic in my life. Sounds crazy, right? So here are a few things that I would like to share that makes me thankful during a pandemic.
First, my eldest daughter attends boarding school. With her being gone, we only got together as a family once a month when she returned home for her scheduled break. With the emergence of the pandemic she came home and was unable to return to school. So, we had her home for a few months longer than we would have had, were it not for the pandemic. Having all of the family together under one roof has afforded us the opportunity to be tighten our family bonds (although it has not been easy), and grow spiritually and emotionally. We also collectively have had the opportunity grow in gratitude to God for the ways in which he provided for us, and used us to help others as a family.
Second, my youngest daughter is FULL of energy. Out of all my children, she has been the one that we had to keep an eye on the most – the girl is super busy! Consequently, sheltering in place with an active and extremely verbal kindergartener would be immensely more difficult if my eldest daughter were not here. Between my daughter and my wife - and my son to some extent, having them here helped quarantining with a family of five in one house to be more doable, particularly for me. My youngest still did, however, manage to make cameos in some of my classes and meetings, because why not? So, I am thankful for my team.
Third, I am thankful for employment and the residuals that come with it. As I full-time student I am currently unemployed, but my wife – a military member, continues to be employed and has been working from home for the past few months. I am thankful to God that her employment affords us the opportunity to have food, shelter and clothing. I think in these times where employment, shelter, or a regular meal is no longer guaranteed for more than a few, to have these things is a blessing. Not only is it opportunities to be grateful, but it also made us more aware of our responsibility to reach out and help others. God has not blessed us so we can simply say we are blessed, but so that we can be a conduit of His blessing to others – especially in times like these.
Fourth, I am thankful for health. As a disabled veteran, I have aches and pains where some days are great, others so-so, and some bad. Staying in shape for me has become more of a necessity for good health, than a luxury of something to do. Although I have not been able to get out and exercise like I want to, I am thankful that our family has been and continues to be healthy. We have gotten reports of friends and family that have been afflicted by the virus, and how the journey for some was rough. So, I do not take it for granted that our family is healthy and thriving. Another reason to be grateful.
Fifth, I am thankful to God for life. Over this past year I have lost several former classmates, friends and acquaintances due to varied reasons. I recognize that it is not a given that I and my family wake up every day, or that we make it through each day. Life is precious and I value the life of my family including extended family members, those of my friends, and my own. When I consider the fact that my family and I are still alive, I am very thankful.
I feel I could go on and on about the things I am grateful for during this pandemic period. The purpose for me sharing the things that I am grateful to God for is not so that I could rub it in the face of whoever reads this, but rather to encourage a paradigm shift in thinking. Sure, I could definitely have written about the problems I have faced and am facing during this pandemic. I could complain how life is unfair, and I was almost there; but I made a choice on how I would see my glass, and what I would do with the lemons given to me at this time.
So here is my challenge: I know you are or will be facing challenges in the near future, and probably for the long-term in some cases. My challenge is that while you work on changing your current situation, consider what or who it is that you could be or are thankful for. Do not try to look beyond today, but find one thing that you are truly grateful for in spite of what’s going on around you. When you have found at least one thing you can be thankful for, share it with someone else. The next day, rinse and repeat.
In spite of what is going on around me, my glass is full.