Health & Spirit

Spiritual Life: A 'have to' in life doesn't become a 'get to' without God's mercy

Janet Griffin, Tri-City Herald on

Published in Religious News

Last year I wrote a Tri-City Herald column about how to turn a burden into a blessing.

It's a "one word wonder," I wrote ... changing "I have to" to "I get to." The idea is to see the blessings in what we have the opportunity to do, instead of just seeing the burdens of what we feel we must do.

I believed what I wrote then, and I believe it now. And, I have recently been faced with a huge test of this idea and often I fail. Completely.

In that column I mentioned my sister's health challenges.

"I have to call her" (depressing and scary for me) changed to "I get to call her," showing love and concern so she would be less depressed and scared.

Then four months ago, my sister had a stroke, and I'm still dealing with her needs.


Suddenly everything about her life became an urgent, confusing, expensive part of my life. I had to make health care decisions; I had to pick out a nursing home; I had to wade through the financial crisis. I had to sell her house, and I had to clear out decades of possessions and clutter. I had to file Power of Attorney papers constantly.

Notice I didn't use "get to" about any of these tasks. It felt -- and often still feels -- like a burden, taking up hours almost daily for months.

"Had to" couldn't morph into "get to" while I was so angry with her for not downsizing years ago; for not having a person living on her side of the country to handle her affairs; for hanging on to so much stuff; for sticking me with this mess!

People said I was a blessing to her, to do all this. Then why did it feel like such a burden to me?


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