For my beautiful friend, Jennifer Rothschild, the words “It is well with my soul” are much more than the lyrics from a familiar hymn; they represent a foundation upon which many life lessons have been learned…in the dark. At the young age of fifteen, Jennifer was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative eye disease that would eventually steal her sight. Jennifer has taken her message of encouragement across the country speaking at national and regional gatherings and is the author of 9 books, including Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight. A humble privilege to to be sharing with Jennifer in Springfield, MO at a Fresh Grounded Faith event in November — and a joy to have her on the farm front porch today:
Iam infected. I got the infection in Ecuador.
I caught it from a nine-year-old boy named Martin.
He lives in a one room house in Quito with his two sisters. Their mother died three years ago and shortly after her death, their father left and hasn’t been seen since.
They live alone.
They are fully dependent on their sponsors from Compassion International to feed, clothe and help nurture them.
They have nothing except two beds and a table.
And, they have a syndrome rare to most Americans, something I could tell from the moment I entered their little home.
It was obvious.
I’ve experienced bouts of this syndrome during my life but, now, I have a full blown case. I pray I am infected, contagious and will never recover.
They have the syndrome of gratefulness.
I want to be chronically grateful, don’t you?
I learned many years ago, when I first became blind, that gratefulness was my best ally. It guided me through the maze of confusion and freed me from the shackles of bitterness. My friend, it truly has.
Sometimes, I still go through periods of ungratefulness. I get small-minded, short-sighted and sink to a degree of selfishness that makes everything in my soul seem dark.
But, grateful eyes truly do see grace and goodness, even in the most difficult and unattractive packages.
Martin’s situation is an unattractive package, a difficult gift to be grateful for but regardless — he was.
His sisters were too. The simplicity of that wise choice made me want to stop swimming in the shallow end of my life and dive into the deep. The deep end is where gratitude cleanses me of myself.
Don’t you want to be infected too?
Grateful eyes truly do see grace and goodness, even in the most difficult and unattractive packages.
The Gratitude Syndrome makes you desire what you already have rather than always needing to have what you think you desire.
Gratitude makes life’s horizon bright and big rather than dark and distant. It turns what you have into more than enough.
It turns resentment into acceptance and turmoil into order.
True gratefulness makes a meager meal a feast, a one room dwelling into a home and an American stranger into a friend for life . . .
Gratitude makes sense of little Martin’s past, brings him peace for today and gives him a hopeful vision for tomorrow.
And, it makes this blind woman see how very much she has.
Both ancient and modern philosophers knew the value of becoming infected with gratitude. From the Roman philosopher Cicero, who said gratitude is “not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others,” to David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, who summed it up by writing, “The root of joy is gratefulness … It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
So, I’m happy to be infected!
Let’s be carriers of the gratitude syndrome … it is the infection that keeps our souls well.
Jennifer’s most recent writing project, a DVD Bible study, Missing Pieces; Real Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, is profound and meets hearts right where they are at when life doesn’t make sense.
Jennifer Rothschild’s life is a joyful, grateful testimony to the amazing grace of God — which Jennifer shares so movingly in the story of her life in this video.
… Humbly looking forward to serving with Jennifer at Fresh Grounded Faith in Springfield in November and we would both love to meet you there… .