Editor’s note: Our final post in our November mini-series on gratitude comes from Men’s Recovery Counselor Mike Sholtz, who is thankful for a medical issue that probably saved his life.
Attitude of Gratitude
By Mike Sholtz
“As a gift of God, recovery is a miracle of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing that is to be received with an attitude of gratitude for God’s grace. Grace means unmerited favor. Every day you can measure whether you’re in recovery or not by your gratefulness.” - Michael Dye, Genesis Process
When I read that statement, I am reminded about how important being thankful is to my recovery. Each day when I wake up I try to look for something to be thankful for in my life. I am able to reflect and think about my health, my family, my job and I am able to find many things for which I am grateful.
In 2014, when I went in for a follow-up appointment for a seemingly minor medical “thing” that was going on, I was informed that I was going to need open-heart surgery. Apparently one of the valves in my heart was leaking enough to cause some concern.
From the time I was 12, I had known about this “leaky valve” but had not paid much attention to it. It was not affecting my way of life. I was still able to walk and talk with little effort (for the most part) and I was doing OK.
But one morning I woke up with a “fog” in my vision. It was like I was seeing the world through a mist just in my left eye. When it didn’t clear up, I went to the urgent care, which sent me to an eye doctor.
“It seems as though your retina has had a stroke,” the doctor told me after some tests. This meant that a blood clot had been released from somewhere in my body that got stuck in my retina. They encouraged me to make an appointment to find out where that blood clot came from.
After a few more tests and an EEG (electroencephalogram), which is basically an ultrasound of the heart, they discovered the valve problem. Now, notice I did not say “the problem,” because apparently the defective valve had nothing to do with the clot that ended up in my eye.
If the clot had not happened, I may not have gone to the doctor at all.
Can you be thankful for a medical issue? I am, because without that clot I would possibly not have discovered the seriousness of the heart issue.
That happened in April 2014; in July 2014, I had surgery to replace that valve. My recovery has been without incident, and as far as I know that valve is working as it should.
Why do I tell that story? Every day, I have the opportunity to be thankful for my health. I get to share that story as part of my recovery, because it is part of who I am and part of the journey I have been on over the last 28 years of recovery from addiction.
People touring our facility often walk through the Recovery Center, where my office is. As I was writing this, a group of people came by with one of our staff members. Because I like to keep my door open when I am not meeting with clients, I was able to tell them a little bit about our program.
Each time I get to talk about what I do, I get this feeling of mixed excitement and gratitude. I get pretty enthusiastic when I talk about what I do, because most of the time I love what I do here. As I was talking just for a few minutes to that group, I was feeling grateful that I have the opportunity to see lives transformed by God.
Each day I get to watch God work. I don’t create areas for God to work in our residents; I just discover the areas where God is already working, and I get to be a part of the change God is bringing about. To me that’s a pretty good deal!
This job is a part of my own recovery journey. Each day I get to be in a place that gives me a thousand reasons to be grateful. This helps me to stay in healthy recovery.
So I agree with Michael Dye: My recovery is a miracle. The best part for me is that I have the opportunity to relive that miracle every single day. And for that I am grateful.
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