Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Glad Game

Okay, I admit it.

I’m the one that first labeled my eldest daughter a “Pollyanna.”

Katherine’s disposition was always relentlessly optimistic, sometimes to the point of unreality. (Referring to things as “wonderful” or “amazing” that just really weren’t, for example.) Occasionally, it got annoying.

Still, the appellation was not a derogatory one.

I adored the movie when I was a little girl…as I did anything with Hayley Mills in it. (Ahhh…the beautiful simplicity of the early ‘60’s…)

We were all pretty much Pollyannas back then. It was pretty much a Pollyanna World, at least on the slick surface of things. (But a cauldron boiled beneath, which would overflow into the anger, violence, and rebellion of the late 60’s, forever changing our Cheerleader Barbie and Ken world. For better and for worse.)

Strangely enough, Pollyanna was one of the first things I thought of back in our days in the ICU. During one brief hospital break, I ran to the BestBuy across the street from UCLA and bought the DVD. Later that night, I took my laptop into Katherine’s room and snuck into bed with her. (Actually, there was nothing sneaky about it. The nurses indulged me.) It was a Houdini-esque operation, positioning myself in such a way as to avoid interference with any life-supporting equipment.

Finally, I got things set up with the laptop on Katherine’s feeding tray, her head at the right angle for viewing, and myself ensconced on about three inches of hospital bed. Kat gave me the thumbs up when I told her we were going to watch Pollyanna. But after about 15 minutes, she started giving me a thumbs down. I asked her if she was too tired and wanted to stop. Slight nod. Of course I understood. Fighting for life can really take it out of you. But she surprised me when I told her we could watch some more later. With a sad little look on her face, she shook her head in an almost imperceptible “no.”

I guess some things are too much even for Pollyanna.

Of course, she remembers absolutely none of this.

In time, her indomitable Pollyanna spirit resurrected itself from the ashes of destruction. That spirit is a vital part of Katherine’s recovery process.

I thank God all the time now that my girl’s a “Pollyanna!”


For those unfamiliar with the story, “Pollyanna” is an orphan, the child of missionaries, who comes to live with her rich, rigid, uptight, controlling Aunt Polly after the death of her parents. In spite of her own sad circumstances, Pollyanna brings a fresh breath of life and joy to all the old sourpusses she meets in her new town.

Pollyanna has a remarkable knack for seeing the bright side in every dark situation. She calls it playing “The Glad Game.” However badly something stinks, Pollyanna has a creative knack for discovering the silver lining. She knows that whatever happens, it could always be worse. And she’s so glad that it’s not!

I wish I were more like Pollyanna.

I am not by nature an extremely optimistic person. A traumatic event at an early age convinced me that the world is not a safe place. Bad things can…and frequently do…happen to “good” people.

Although often my initial response is to expect the worst, I know that I must fight against my inner fear and negativity. “Murphy’s Law” is a lie. I have to choose to receive the faith to believe that God is for me, not against me. That all things…even very, very bad things…do indeed work together for good, by the miraculous grace of His providence.

I’ve discovered that even an old curmudgeon like me can play The Glad Game.

Here goes…

1. I am glad that Katherine lived.
2. I am glad that all of my children are alive.
3. I am glad that I’ve been married to my best friend for 33 years.
4. I am glad that I have such a wonderful, patient son-in-law.
5. I am glad that our circumstances have caused me to have a much closer relationship with my grandson than would normally be the case.
6. I am glad that our extended families have gathered around to support us.
7. I am glad that I get to live in beautiful, sunny California for much of the time.
8. I am glad that I get to be a part of two wonderful churches.
9. I am glad that I have such faithful, dear, unconditionally loving friends.
10. I am glad that I have been forced to grow…emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
11. I am glad that I have hard work to do.
12. I am glad that the incredible out-pouring of love we’ve received has restored my faith in mankind.
13. I’m glad I’ve gotten to become friends with my children’s friends.
14. I am glad that adversity has enabled me to know God in a much deeper way.
15. I am glad that I haven’t been killed (yet) driving on the 405.
16. I am glad that I’ve been introduced to Red Mango.
17. I am glad that I am writing.
18. I am glad that I don’t take things for granted any more.
19. I am glad that I believe in miracles.
20. I am glad that God has never, ever given up on me.

Wow…and I’m just getting started!

I guess my husband’s been right about the Power of Positive Thinking all these years. Could have saved some money at the shrink’s office. I feel like Little Miss Optimistic now!

I’d like to challenge you to play The Glad Game yourself.


Write it down.

You may be surprised at how radically it changes things

….or you.


“…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve— a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:2-3)

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” (Psalm 5:11)

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it...” (Psalm 96:11)

"…and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Isaiah 35:10)


Kim said...

"Beauty for Ashes" Isaiah 61:3 said...

I am glad that God led me to your blog. I am glad that your honesty helps me with my own spritiual walk. I am glad Katherine lived, as well! 

Thank you!
SEPTEMBER 24, 2009 11:10 AM

(Didn't want to erase your very sweet comments when I redid the blog, so I copied and pasted! Thank you so much for your encouragement!)

Erika said...

I'm so glad Katherine lived, and that you are both sharing your stories through your blogs. I get so much strength from reading what you both write. I need to play the "Glad Game" this week- thank you for reminding me of that.

honey t said...

Oh Kim I've always been my family's Pollyanna and it makes Laura crazy. But I don't care. It's the way I survive. Anything else would be too overwhelming

max harrell said...

I love the glad game. Thank you for reminding me of how much fun it is. I am glad that I do not have to like or understand every circumstance in life to be glad. Sometimes it is just nice to wrap my arms around gladness!!! Love & blessings to you & your peeps!!!

Carol Harrell