When I left home at 18 to go to college knowing I would get married a little more than a year later, I never expected to move back in with my parents.
I was disappointed to move in with my parents at age 42. After surviving a massive stroke in 2011 at the age of 38 and losing physical ability and identity, I never dreamed I would eventually also lose my home and family. It was something I could not have anticipated and never would have chosen.
I’d been married for 23 years, had two teenage children, and had managed my own home for more than half my life. Though I was disappointed with my living arrangements, I was also grateful that they gave me a place to live and made me welcome. After a season of neglect and abuse, being in a safe place where I was cherished, loved, protected, nurtured and challenged was far more blessing than disappointment.
Because of my parents’ exceptional love and care, my post-stroke recovery took off as I re-engaged with people around me and the world at large. I slowly emerged from a deep depression and began to think of myself as a survivor rather than a victim, taking an active interest and role in my recovery.
I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be where I am today and might not even be alive today were it not for the disappointment of moving back home when I did. While it was not my choice, it was what God knew I needed most and brought about in the midst of great heartache and disappointment.
I hope and pray that I will never forget it and that in the face of disappointments to come, it will help me to look for the blessings hidden in them. The life I have today is not one I planned or chose, but it’s the one I’ve been given and it is good.
When I focus on the blessings and the good and look for things to be thankful for, that’s what I find. What we focus on grows until it fills our sight, so let’s choose carefully and look for the things we can be thankful for until gratitude becomes our default focus.
Joanne Heim was a publicist, senior copywriter, and editor in the publishing industry for over ten years. She is the author of Living Simply: Choosing Less in a World of More and of Misplacing God. You can purchase her books on Amazon. A former frequent speaker for MOPS, she has been interviewed on numerous radio and television programs, including Focus on the Family and Moody’s Midday Connection.