Receiving with Grace: Lessons Learned with Secondary Progressive MS

Receiving with Grace: Lessons Learned with Secondary Progressive MS

Jennifer Silver LiningsIn this season of thanks and giving, I have realized the beauty of receiving. I have recognized when to ask for help and how to accept assistance graciously.

This has not been my strong suit in the past.

I am most at ease with myself when I am of service to others. I am happiest doing things for friends and family. Perhaps this is why I have always enjoyed hosting our family’s Thanksgiving. I recall when this tradition began. Our small dining room table seated four: my husband, my parents, and me. I then think about our recent Thanksgiving. Three leaves in our table comfortably sat 10 family members. By the grace of God, my parents joined my sister and nephew in addition to our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons.

So much to be thankful for.

I joke that I host Thanksgiving so that others can witness the few dishes I cook well. Suffice to say that Julia Child’s place in history is safe — although my daughter could give her a run with her homemade pies.

What does any of this have to do with the ability to receive?

When I used to race boats, I thrived in a one-person vessel, where I could be both captain and crew. When I was a crew member among many, I lost that feeling. I have difficulty relinquishing control. This is not an enviable trait, and it’s one I continue to modify. In kind, I like to be where things need doing.

As mealtime approached and ovens began beeping, I was directed to the couch. This was fortunate for me as my knee was double its normal size. After years of injury, surgery, and other issues, I am due to have a replacement next year. My body was in agony, but my desire to help was genuine. So, too, was everyone’s concern. As I crept into the kitchen to see what I could do, my daughter lovingly admonished me and sent me back to the couch. When I began to get up again my father gently yet firmly told me to sit.

So, I sat. And I admit that it felt good. With a cold wrap around my knee, I leaned back and closed my eyes. Even the controlled chaos of my bustling kitchen did not distract me. I was deep in grateful prayer. I thanked God for each sound and the people making them. I smiled at the absence of anxiety. The presence of my loving family overwhelmed my senses. Despite the physical pain, my gratitude was immeasurable.

And I received with grace and thanks.

I have long since maintained the importance of finding the “silver lining” in any cloud. Living with progressive multiple sclerosis is dark at times. Nevertheless, the bright blessings and life lessons borne of living with the disease continue to inspire me.

Learning to receive is in harmony with giving as each one has a season. I continue to thrive by giving, but I am no longer fearful of receiving. With true reciprocity there is no quid pro quo, no accountant, and no memory; just a need to do what is best at any given time.

A perfect Thanksgiving.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


  1. Marie Lippman says:

    Thank you so much for what you wrote! We’re very much alike, in faith, optimism, being a servant to others with and how good it feels! It’s hard when you’re wired one way, but with SPMS, it changes the game!

    • Jenn Powell says:

      Hi Marie!

      Thanks so much for writing. It is hard for those like us to be the recipient. But we give when allow others to see our vulnerabilities. I am still learning to ask for help and receive graciously. It is a continuum!

      Yes, the game has changed so we must change our strategy!


  2. I need to get better at receiving help graciously. I have MS but I’m a nurse oh, so it’s in my nature to nurture! I have always been willing to give of myself to help others but have struggled with how to receive help for myself. It is just one issue of many but I appreciate your story and your willingness to share. Thank you! 😊

    • Jenn Powell says:

      Hi Ann!

      Thank you for being a nurse, I truly admire all you give to patients like me. You make a difference.

      You are innately wired to give. Hence, we need to change your thought process. When you allow others to give to you I want you to begin to think of it like you are giving them a gift. Allowing others be there for us as a gift to them. Think of how you enjoy giving and imagine someone else feeling that way giving to you. We need you to be the best nurse you can. That means keeping yourself strong and healthy and asking for help when it necessary

      Baby steps!


    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Judy,

      Thanks so much for being a reader, it’s nice to know something I’ve written has proven helpful.


  3. Karen Hicks says:

    I’m finding myself being more bitter everyday. I too have SPMS but I also deal with type 1 diabetes that I have had for 40+ Years. This means my fabulous husband has to do everything. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc which he does faithfully without complaining even though his back hurts a lot most days and he’s fighting prostate cancer too. His favorite saying is “I’ll rest when I’m dead”. He has just done most of the Christmas decorating inside and will probably do all the outside decorations tomorrow. I know I’m blessed more than I deserve and am so grateful. But I feel so much like Mr Grinch. I just cant shake it.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you for being so honest about your feelings. You have a great deal on your plate so your feelings are understandable. We all have an inner grinch so please be kind to yourself. I think it’s more about managing that grinch then shaming yourself for your feelings. Similarly, MS is a daily struggle and we can only manage each day as it comes.

      You are very mindful of your blessings. Be aware that you are among them. I’m cheering you on!

      One day at a time.


  4. Radonna Lindsay says:

    Hi my name is Radonna, in 1998 I was diagnosed with MS, didn’t start feeling symptoms until 2002. Then I would put on Copaxone. I think I was on that 2 years and then we tried other thing. My Tremors were on my right side only and then once I started training my left side to do what my right side did it started to change there too. They tried me on rebif shot but for 2 weeks my body fought it off. Now 2018 they’re going to start me on ocrevus which is more promising then others. I am getting excited for this.

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