More Beautiful Than Before

I have some wonderful, caring, beautiful friends in my life.  I’m grateful for their love and support.

Recently I was fortunate to spend some quality and fun time with a girlfriend who came to our winter oasis in California for a week. During her time with us, she presented me with a little book that speaks volumes to me.

The book is called “MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN BEFORE – How suffering transforms us” by Steve Leder, senior Rabbi of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles.  It is a small but very powerful book full of wisdom and meaning for those of us dealing with illness, grief, divorce or any painful situation.

It is a great book for me.  Kind of like a refresher course in finding the blessings in my hardships.  As written in the introduction to this book one sentence resonates with me.  “Not to come out of hell emptyhanded.  There is real profound power in the pain we endure if we transform our suffering into a more authentic and meaningful life.”

I’ve touched on the topic of finding the blessings in my illness in some of my past posts.  It’s always good to revisit this topic as it refreshes my spirit and reboots my positive attitude.

Every person in this world is suffering or has suffered through something and that suffering may or may not be obvious.  In my case my MS is very obvious.  I run into many strangers in my travels whether it be in a store or the hair salon, the gym etc.  Many of these people, seeing me with my walker or on my scooter, come right out and ask me if I was in a car accident or had recent surgery.  They never suspect me as having an illness because I look healthy in every other way.  I’m obviously disabled and they are curious as to why.  I’m okay with these questions.  I answer truthfully and quite often we get into a dialogue about my positive attitude or bright spirit despite my disability.  That is what strikes most people when they meet me.  They cannot believe how cheerful I can be even though I’m losing my physical abilities.  I contribute my positive attitude and cheerful disposition to reading books like this little book from my girlfriend.

The more I dive into these spiritual books, the more I’m aware of the blessings in my life.  These blessings are more profoundly realized through living with MS.  When living with limitations such as those associated with MS I have become more “in tune” with the small stuff in life.  I find I am way more grateful and get more joy out of the simplest things that most others take for granted.  I also look at the big picture from a totally different perspective now.  Of course, we all have sad days or moments when we remember what we use to have or use to be able to do but that is in the past.  We now have to move on and work with what we’ve got.

Pain and suffering is a great teacher.  I can honestly say that I have learned from my MS.

When you must, you can.”  An old expression of great wisdom.  “Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”  

A paragraph out of this book starts with “Pain is an invitation to those of us who survive the suffering to become kinder, better people.”   That sentence is so true.  I have more compassion.  When I pass by a person in a wheelchair or a walker like myself…there is always a shared smile or greeting between us.  Before I became handicapped I did not acknowledge the suffering of others.  Now it is at the forefront of my being.  I’m a kinder and better person to these people.  I understand.

One thing I know for sure is that despite my flaws and my handicap I AM ENOUGH AND I HAVE ENOUGH.

If I can offer a bit of advice… not to take your health for granted.  Look after yourself the best you can.  Your life can take a dramatic change and very quickly when you are not expecting it.  As the author of this little book says “whether it’s in our own pain or in witness to another’s suffering, life is a miracle for which we ought to be grateful every day, because it could be otherwise.”




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