by Emily Conrad
On the plane, I began to feel shaky and off. I’d noticed a headache starting earlier in the flight, and had taken medicine to prevent it from getting worse, but this was something else.
I was traveling solo to see my sister in Colorado.
Though I didn’t have an appetite, I suspected eating would help. I bought food at the airport when we landed, but as I sat down with it, I wondered if I would feel up to the one-hour bus ride to my final destination.
Unwell and alone, I missed my husband. He would’ve helped me find food in the airport. He would’ve noticed the strawberries in the fruit bowl I bought, preventing me from completing the purchase, since I’m allergic. He would’ve been a shoulder to lean on, a reassuring presence beside me, someone to help me make decisions about whether or not to take the shuttle—and what to do if I missed it.
To squelch my self-pity, I reminded myself that singles (and I’m sure many marrieds) have to deal with being sick alone. This is what adults do. I wasn’t incapacitated. I could keep moving forward. I could make my way on my own.
I just really didn’t want to. I’d been spoiled, and in that moment, I finally had the perspective to recognize it.
A couple of weeks before my trip, I started a gratitude journal. Each night before bed, I jotted down a list of things I was especially grateful for, some little, some bigger.
As I wrote out my first list after my trip, my husband came in, saw what I was doing, and asked if I had put him on it.
He’d never asked before, and that’s a good thing because I don’t think I ever had before. I’d been keeping that journal for weeks! I’d thought I’d been doing a good job of putting big and little things on it, and yet I’d missed something so basic.
I’d always been grateful for him, of course, but having to go without him for a few days reminded me of just how much of a blessing he is to me.
Thankfully, my sickness on that trip was short-lived. After water and a little rest at my sister’s place, I quickly recovered. We determined I’d probably gotten dehydrated on the plane, and after that, I was more deliberate about drinking water.
But there is one way I don’t want to entirely recover. I don’t want to lose sight of the value of my blessings.
It’s easy to put the big, easily seen things on a gratitude list—the mountains we’ve climbed, the jobs we’ve landed, the house we call home.
Maybe it’s even easy to be grateful for the small things—the blooming flowers, the latte, the sight of a puppy bounding down the street with her new owner.
But I also want to see and thank God for the blessings that are so big, they become almost invisible. Not just the mountains, but the very ground I walk on every day, those who walk it beside me, the food that sustains, the quiet waters that restore a weary soul.
I’m grateful, even, for the sickness that came when I was alone, because it opened my eyes.
When we must go without something we normally can readily access—relationships, coffee, sunshine, peaceful afternoon walks, quiet times with our Bibles in our favorite spot—we get to see the true value of those blessings. We become grateful for that which we’ve taken for granted.
But let’s attempt to not wait for absence to grow fonder hearts in us.
I don’t think we’ll ever recognize all of our blessings for what they are, but perhaps we can make progress by pausing occasionally to recognize the value of what we hold so close, we rarely see it anymore. What we hold in our hands, what we lean on, what we tend, what brings a moment of peace and a swell of joy in our daily lives.
Who do you lean on when you’re sick? What routine brings you joy? What are the necessities, without which you just don’t feel like yourself?
Let us thank our God for all the good gifts He’s given.
P.S. It’s the first week of June, so I had the privilege of posting on Seriously Write on Tuesday. Check out Whataboutism: What It Is and How to Beat It here. I wrote it for writers, but I hope you’ll find the general idea applies, whatever your calling.
Graphics created on Canva.com
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