How do you define tragedy? For some it is a major incident like losing money or losing a job or some other life-altering loss. For others, it can be as minor as a change in a routine. Now, imagine you are at a crossroads. For you, a minor change can be devastating and today you are faced with the prospect of a life-altering change. How do you survive?
You learn to find the positive in every situation.
I recently learned that my children’s father has become ill and is in hospital. While I might not like him very much most days, he is still the father of my children, and therefore, half of who they are. It is my job as the mom to show that people deserve respect even when we don’t agree with them. So, I had to help my son understand what was going on while also keeping him calm and reassuring him that for now he and his father are where they need to be. In case you were unaware, my son is on the autism spectrum. Isaiah is higher functioning and has learned quite a bit, as he has matured, about navigating the world. I’m proud of his ability to cope and ask questions when he needs guidance. He is also able to articulate his thoughts and feelings after he has had time alone to process.
I was challenged this week to find the good in every situation – chase the silver lining as it were. And I did. In the most critical days of my ex-husband’s hospital stay, the prognosis was not good. He was not breathing on his own, and he had developed an additional infection. During those days, I was most worried about Isaiah’s mental state as we faced the possibility that his dad might not make it out of hospital, but I soon realized that I needn’t have worried so much about Isaiah. As we were driving home from a visit with his dad, Isaiah said, “I just hope that God doesn’t take him too soon.” I was amazed that Isaiah had taken such a mature attitude – not that Isaiah was contemplating the possibility of never seeing his dad again, but his ability to calmly articulate what was weighing on him.
I responded the only way I knew – with honesty. I told Isaiah that when you pray for healing there are two outcomes 1.) God will heal the person enough to send them home to you or 2.) God will heal them by taking them home with Him, so they don’t hurt anymore. Isaiah melted my heart when he answered, “I know, Mom. I just hope that if it’s the latter that I’m prepared.” Let me just give you a minute to absorb what happened in the conversation. My autism baby (who is 15 actually) was facing the possibility of losing his father, and instead of melting down, he articulated his fear, confronted it, and accepted it as real. That is optimism in the midst of tragedy. He was hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.
Although that is the silver lining that I love most about this situation, there have been many others this week. Isaiah’s dad is doing much better. He still has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but he will eventually be able to resume many of the activities he enjoyed before his illness. Isaiah even states that his dad is more humble now. Last but not least, Isaiah gave me more hugs than he ever has. We spent more time together as a family playing games and talking to each other.
There is always something good to be found in every tragedy. It might take us some time to see it, and we might have to train ourselves to look for it, but it’s there. Play your own version of “The Glad Game” like Pollyanna. It doesn’t have to be a big thing to be glad about. Sometimes it might just be that your socks matched or your hair was combed or you remembered to eat. Whatever it is, find it. Not just in the midst of tragedy but in your everyday life find a little bit of something to bring some optimism to your day.