“Daddy! I’m having a nervous breakdown.”
“Lisa, you’re not having a nervous breakdown,” John Osteen replied calmly. “We can talk about it later tonight.”
“No, Daddy, you don’t understand. I’m having a nervous breakdown…right now!”
Lisa Osteen Comes laughs as she remembers how she badgered her father at work. In a way, he couldn’t blame her. A whirlwind visit to see her mother, diagnosed with terminal cancer, had gone terribly wrong. Dodie Osteen had a surprise recovery. However, Lisa’s short marriage after a fairy-tale wedding was the true casualty that Christmas. When she extended her stay, her husband surprised her with divorce papers and refused to speak to her. The entire family stood by shell shocked.
In a matter of weeks, Lisa found herself back in her childhood bedroom wondering how everything had gone so wrong. Understandably, she thought of and talked about almost nothing else. In the process, she had exhausted her sisters, her friends, and anyone who would listen.
She desperately picked up the phone that afternoon, insisting on speaking with her Dad. He listened patiently to another version of the same conversation they’d repeatedly had since Lisa received the divorce papers.
After getting nowhere, he had an idea. “Lisa, someone else is here. Will you talk with him?”
Lisa stopped ranting. He gave her the name of the pastor, a longtime family friend. She knew he would have her best interests at heart. “OK – that sounds all right.”
She was soothed by his wisdom and reassuring words. As she quieted down, he had one more question. This one might sting.
“Lisa, can I talk to you as a father?”
His tone softened. “Can I tell you why you’re so depressed?”
“You’re feeling bad…because you’re feeling sorry for yourself.”
Lisa was speechless. He just kept talking.
“Lisa, I know things are hard right now, but you have a lot to be grateful for. Yes, you’re embarrassed, but you have a great family standing behind you. Yes, you’re at home, but you’re comfortable. You have a roof over your head. Your Mom will make dinner in a few hours. You have your health. Think of other people whose marriages fall apart who don’t have a fraction of what you do.”
Their short conversation was the moment she saw her life in a different light. That year didn’t have a happy ending. Her husband divorced her. She moved back to Texas and started over. But that was just one year, and there have been many sweet years since then.
I know a lot of people who feel like 2014 has given them a nervous breakdown. But maybe it’s possible to still say Infinite Love and Gratitude. Could you be waking up to small miracles coming out of the blue? Are you appreciating people who have stood by you during wave after wave of hardship?
With Thanksgiving a week away, think of where you could be acting like Lisa and then give thanks. And give thanks again. As Neale Donald Walsch suggests, “The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.”