The woman sat in the front seat passenger side and gazed out the window at the clear blue sky. Random thoughts flowed through her mind like the leafless trees passing through her line of vision, leaving as quickly as they came. It had been a good time with family. She looked down at the soft-covered book resting on her lap. Right before she left, her aunt had given it to her. The timing of the gift was all to coincidental. Just days before, the woman had thought to herself how she needed to find a book to read that would help her gain perspective as she walked through this season of her life, something to help her deal.
She sensed a still, small voice had been trying to send her a message. The doctor's words, her father's counsel, her grandfather's story, her aunt's book—these had all happened within a weeks time and each instance built off a similar theme: attitude. This combined with her own conviction was enough to get her attention. If someone was making an effort to tell her something, she was going to make her best effort to listen.
She picked up the book admiring its newness as she flipped through the crisp pages and opened to the first chapter. A sobering emotional sting took her by surprise upon reading the chapter title: "Accepting the Truth." She stopped there. It was a loaded phrase, one that had been haunting her daily since the very beginning of this ordeal. Just when she thought she had gotten to a point of acceptance, something would happen and she'd have to do it all over again. Initially she had viewed acceptance like painting a sphere—there was one surface to cover and then it's done. But it was more like painting a polyhedron—there were multiple faces that needed painting, and each had to be done one at a time. And so it was with the woman, each aspect and each residual effect had to be accepted. Some were easier than others.
As she continued to read, it talked about expecting trials and troubles as a norm of life. That part seemed true enough to her and explained why this situation had been such a jolt to her system. The past few years had been easy; everything she had reached for, she had accomplished. She hadn't experienced any major disappointments, and while she knew she that was a blessing (for she was no stranger to hardship), she had lost sight of the inevitability of trials.
She read on: "Count it all joy when you when you fall into various trials." She stopped again. She knew those words, but knowing and doing are two very different things. She had read and heard them many times before, but never had she realized how ridiculous they sounded. Consider it a pain in the neck? Yes. Count it an emotional blow? Yes. Consider it a reason to feel angry and sorry for yourself? Yes. Count it as joy? What? Wait a minute here. Now that makes no sense. Apparently the author thought so, too, but that did not negate the advice. As the woman understood, to count suffering as joy was an act of the will, not the emotion, and it was not a senseless choice. Patience, perseverance, character, and hope were the fruits of that decision, things that she could use a little more of.
Not knowing exactly what she was doing, she decided to give it a shot. It wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't going to be a one time decision, but at least it was something to help combat her misery. That day, contrary to her feelings, she decided she would try to count her situation as joy.