Thankful Thursday 4 – Silver Linings Edition

W-23We finally arrived in Utah after our long road trip. We had a great time, and I’ve got a few more posts coming about that in the next few days. However, it’s Thursday, so it’s time to talk about gratitude. There have obviously been a lot of challenges this month, but I’ve been surprised at how many things have worked out well. For every bad thing, there are a lot of reasons why it was the best possible time for that bad thing.

Bonnie was talking to her Mom yesterday about how well so many things have worked out. For instance, Clark and Wayne were already planning a road trip through Cleveland, so we were able to meet up with them and spend some time in Kirtland and Nauvoo.

Most people expected Laura to go on a French-speaking mission, since she’s studied it a lot. Instead, she got called to Taiwan, which means that she spent twelve weeks in the MTC instead of eight. In addition, she put in her papers in December, but didn’t leave until April. All of these things meant that the timing of her mission coincided with Bonnie getting sick. Because of that, she can take a break for a transfer to see Bonnie without the massive inconvenience of travelling from Taiwan to Utah.

A particularly noticeable bad/good thing happened last night: our car failed catastrophically. Go 2014! Obviously that’s bad, but the timing of the failure couldn’t be better. We drove that thing almost 3000 miles in the last two weeks. Then when we got here, we drove it back to Provo and then up to Pleasant Grove. It did (relatively) fine for all of that.

Last night, however, we drove it a distance of maybe two miles to see Gran. When we pulled into the parking lot, I heard a sort of hissing/fizzing sound. We looked under the car and green fluid was spraying everywhere, while smoke leaked out from under the hood. I’m not sure what’s wrong yet, but it couldn’t have happened in a better place. Gran has a van that she doesn’t use a lot, so we were able to move all the stuff from our car to hers and make it back home.

Like I said, this is the silver linings edition of Thankful Thursday. Just moment ago I typed out this sentence, “Of course, I would be happier if all these things hadn’t happened.”

As soon as I typed it out, I stopped. In reality, I don’t know that that’s true. I’m not glad that Bonnie is sick, and I’m not glad that our car broke down, but I feel like these little things illustrate what seems to be a common theme for Bonnie and me these last two years: even when things go wrong, they still work out. You can still be happy in the middle of all of that. I’m not even sure if the happiness comes in spite of or because of the challenges.

Think about it for a second. What really makes you happy?

  • Feeling connected to others
  • Sensing God in your life
  • Feeling like you matter
  • Family
  • Friends
  • A purpose
  • Security

You can probably add a few things of your own to the list, but the truth is that a major catastrophe like an illness in the family can improve most of those things (with the exception of security). I’m not saying that Bonnie getting sick is some awesome thing that has made me much happier, but it hasn’t destroyed my happiness like you might expect. More than anything it’s given me perspective on life and what I want to do with it. I’m grateful for that most of all.

12 thoughts on “Thankful Thursday 4 – Silver Linings Edition

  1. What a beautiful picture of you and Bonnie. Your perspective and gratitude is truly amazing. I’m so glad you are seeing the silver lining, and noticing the things that are working out. Your post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about gratitude.

    “Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.” (Sarah Ban Breathnach, in John Cook, comp., The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd ed. (2007), 342.)

    Although health may not be on your current list, you have mentioned many of the others. And you and Bonnie are definitely tending your secret garden of abundance. Thank you for your examples. We love you.

    • That’s a fantastic quote, Kristine. I like metaphor of gratitude as tending a garden. With regular care it will yield fruits and flowers, but with neglect you’ll only get weeds and thorns.

  2. My name is Marilyn Olson. I have been reading your website and the tears just started to seep out. I don’t normally post on people’s blogs, but your website touched me. My brother has cancer too. He is 31. Your faith and words are inspiring to me. I believe your hope and happiness are true. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Marilyn, Thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. 31 is way too young to have cancer. I hope your brother’s situation works out well. We’ll be praying for him.

  3. Wow, Adam, I really appreciate you taking the time to write down your thoughts here. I was amazed with the insight that difficult things can have the effect of improving our lives in the most essential ways. Your list of things that make life better really laid it out so clearly. Those things really can improve significantly when we experience major upheavals in life. Thank you.

    • Well, I’m slow at replying to comments because we’ve been travelling. I’ll have to talk to you about a better comment management system than I currently have. Is there a wordpress app or something? Anyway I’ve been thinking about this type of thing a lot because Bonnie and I have been reading “David and Goliath.” It talks a lot about how hard things can be either beneficial or destructive. I’ll do some posts about it next week or something.

  4. “…even when things go wrong, they still work out. You can still be happy in the middle of all of that. I’m not even sure if the happiness comes in spite of or because of the challenges.”
    This right here shows so much of your and Bonnie’s personalities and amazing attitudes. I’m so grateful for your faithful example of optimism and seeking joy in the journey.

    • Thanks Janelle. I have always loved the quote from Hamlet, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” A positive attitude isn’t everything, but it sure counts for a whole lot in life.

  5. What a great message. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Perhaps your happiness through these trials will be purer (because of your perspective) than what many of the rest of us might experience as we’re often bogged down in the fog of life’s useless cares. I love the line from the great pioneer hymn “Tis better far for us to strive, our useless cares from us to drive.” Struggle and trial are great tools for picking away the useless cares in our lives.

    • Thanks for your comment Peter. I agree that trials help us get rid of useless cares. I like the image used in the scriptures of a two-edged sword. Usually it describes the word of God, but I think that it could be applied equally well to trials. They cut us deeply, but they also serve to cut out unnecessary things from our lives.

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