Stay Positive and Encourage Others

April 30, 2019
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“He comforts us whenever we suffer.  That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

 

It can be very easy to focus on all the challenges we face as a spouse to someone living with paralysis.  There are a lot of things that we could choose to complain about because the truth is, it’s hard. If your story is even remotely like mine, paralysis came after we were married, which means we didn’t “sign up” for this life…well, not in so many words anyway.  However, when I reflect on our marriage vows, I realize that we promised to love and cherish each other through all kinds of life circumstances. The one that stands out the most to me is “for better or worse”. That can mean so many things which is why it is a great promise to make to each other from the beginning.  In our marriage “worse” has been the many challenges and heartaches we have faced together, but hands down the biggest one has been living with the results of my husband’s spinal cord injury.

I can’t honestly remember the exact moment when it hit me that our lives had drastically changed forever, I think it was actually more of a gradual realization than one specific “aha moment”.  However, once I did finally come to that full understanding, I knew my faith was going to be tested like never before. I had 2 choices. I could choose to let this devastating life change make be bitter and angry towards God and life OR I could choose to allow the suffering and challenges make be better and draw me nearer to my Creator.  I chose to trust God and let Him teach me to walk in faith in a way I never would have if my hubby hadn’t been injured.

It was a choice over 7 years ago and it is a choice I still have to make every single day.  I try my best to choose to be joyful even when I don’t feel joy. I try to see the positive in my husband’s injury even when I am overwhelmed and frustrated by all the things that come along with paralysis. Does that mean I don’t have days where I want to curl up in the fetal position, stay in bed and cry while feeding my sadness one piece of See’s chocolate at a time? Absolutely not. I totally have those days and I allow myself those days because I think it is healthy to have those feelings.  There is grief that still hits some days like a ton of bricks. I might see a picture of a dad picking up his child and swinging them around or I see a couple walking hand in hand. Just last week I was at the beach and I saw an elderly couple sitting together playing cards on the beach and enjoying their retirement. Those moments can be tough because it’s easy to let my thoughts wander down the path of “I will never get to do that with my husband”. Even though those thoughts may be true, they don’t help me find joy.  I choose not to allow myself to wallow in them because they only lead to sadness and that is never a good place to end up. When those thoughts enter my mind, I choose to replace them with positive truths that are much more likely to lead to joy and contentment.

Staying positive and choosing joy is an action, which means we have to do something in order to make them happen.  Here is a short list of somethings you might do to help you find joy and choose to be positive when you are feeling sad, frustrated or at the end of your rope.

  1. Make a list of all the blessings in your life, actually write them down.  Then read them out loud to yourself. This always helps me refocus and brings a smile and sometimes even tears of joy to my eyes.
  2. Ask friends, family, support groups, local church, etc. for encouragement and prayer.  It always helps to know there are others out there thinking about you and praying for you.  Other spouses going through similar struggles as you will be able to encourage you like no one else (there are many support groups on Facebook and maybe in your local community…get plugged in!)
  3. Read an inspirational book like one of the many Joni Eareckson Tada has written. She is an amazing woman who has thrived with the paralysis cause by an SCI suffered when she was just 16 years old!!  Any of her books are encouraging but I am sharing a link to a book about her life as a married woman:
  4. If you are able, donate to a charity that helps with disabilities…there is so much joy in giving. (https://www.joniandfriends.org/)
  5. Do something for someone else!  Make someone a meal, bring them cookies, write a letter telling someone how much you love and/or appreciate them and mail it to them, really truly just do something selfless for someone else…it will bring you joy.  Sometimes just taking the focus off of our reality can be a great attitude shifter.
  6. SMILE!!  There is something about smiling that is contagious.  Next time you are having a tough day, smile at every person you see and I think you will be amazed at the joy you feel sneaking in…even better, smile and say hello to everyone you see!!  This includes our spouse. Don’t grumble or complain to them, just smile and serve them with joy. Sometimes, when I am drying my husbands’ feet, I think about Jesus washing the disciple’s feet.  If He could humbly wash dusty, smelly feet…I can take care of my husband with joy.

Now, find someone else who is struggling, maybe someone whose spouse is living with paralysis or maybe someone who is just going through a tough time in life.  Listen to them, comfort them and just be there for them. One of the greatest things we can do when we figure out how to find joy in the midst of suffering and look at the positive side of tough situations is to share that knowledge and encourage someone else.  Allow yourself to have sad days, but don’t allow yourself to stay there for too long (a day or two at the most). If you can’t seem to pull yourself out of the sadness you should seek some professional help.

Our attitude and outlook on life is 100% our choice.  We can choose to be bitter…or we can choose to be better.  I pray you will choose wisely!!

Also, I want to encourage you to check out our Free E-Books by clicking the images below:

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About the Author: Julie Davis

Julie is the wife of Bill Davis and serves as both his spouse and caregiver. Julie has learned to embrace the struggle and thrive in the midst of insurmountable circumstances with her husband Bill. She has a heart to bring hope and healing to spouses, caregivers, and paralysis survivors for the glory of God.

You can connect with Julie by joining TWP Wives of Paralysis Survivors on Facebook

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