“Life is what happens when you’re making plans.”

I first heard this statement years ago when I was a lot younger with less wisdom. With time I learned its truth while becoming a bit wiser.

The past two years haven’t done much for many of our plans. There were many funerals, weddings, and celebrations canceled, postponed, and interrupted. I’m sure you’ve experienced disruptions as well, some excruciatingly painful. We had plans, but life had others. I was planning on meeting just about all of you this year, but here we are.

My chaplaincy training in trauma, crisis events, and assisting people through them, raised several recurring themes in facilitating health and wellness. As volunteers with Meals on Wheels of the Greater Lehigh Valley, you’ve not only navigated your own life rollercoasters, but you still faithfully served others! I have great admiration for you! But recent history took a toll on all of us. I know I’ve felt it at times. We’ve been adjusting to an ever-changing context and we developed what a good friend of mine calls, Crisis Fatigue. Basically, it’s when you experience something for so long you think or say, “I’ve had enough of this! I’m done!”

What has helped me get through some of the most difficult times of my life may seem rather simple. Hopefully, you’ve actually heard this before – it’s not a big secret but it is gaining traction. Even “recent studies” in resilience, the ability or strength to withstand a life-storm and recover, have found that simply being grateful can serve as a strong foundation for getting through when our plans get toppled over and trashed.

I’m sure some of you could write a book on this. You’re master ninjas at the art and practice of being grateful. I have to be honest, for me, it took practice and intentionality. What did I do to foster this cornerstone of my emotional wellness? I made lists. Yup, I created a menu of all the things I’m grateful for. Sometimes the list was in my mind and at other times I wrote them down and reviewed them regularly. I’m grateful for heat today as it’s 19-degrees outside. I’m grateful for the electricity which powers my laptop. I’m grateful for my wife to whom I’ll be married 30 years in July. I’m grateful for the socks on my feet and gravity keeping them on the ground.

So, if you’re feeling a bit worn from the ups and downs and unexpected twists of life, may I suggest making a list of the large and even tiny things you’re grateful for? Then, think on them. Read them out loud. Doing this can make the brightness a little brighter.

“Fill your minds and meditate on things true, noble, admirable, noble, lovely, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”            – Philippians 4:8

Humbly,

Rev. Peter Keady, CC, CCISM

Chaplain, Meals on Wheels of the Greater Lehigh Valley