I began my journey of attempting to be more grateful during the middle of my Celebrate Recovery step study about a year ago. Whenever I begin to feel down about what I’ve lost, missed out on, or never had, I just think of my small group leader reminding me to turn to my Gratitude List.
This time of year is hard on me. There are a lot of special days in November to January, not just Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s my birthday, my parents’ anniversary, and my mom’s birthday. The past couple years, there was also my divorce, my mom’s death, and my grandpa’s death. So, there are a lot of ups and downs and mixed emotions for me during this season.
Last year, I hated this time. I didn’t feel like doing Thanksgiving or Christmas. I didn’t want to cook or bake, I didn’t want to buy or receive presents, and I didn’t want to be grateful. I missed mom terribly, and in the midst of that my grandpa was dying in the same manner my mom went. It was all just way too much. I had a very hard time being grateful for anything.
I have spent the last six months or so trying to rectify that. Rather than going through a list in my head, I began writing down the things in which I am grateful. Big or small, it goes on my list. I haven’t been very good at being consistent about adding to my list daily, but I do remember to read it when I’m sad or angry or hurt and need to remind myself of all the good I have in my life.
One of the most important things I’ve noticed since keeping this list, is that so many of things I am grateful for today, I wouldn’t have if I had gotten the things I thought I wanted in life. My list of things I’m grateful for has also taught me to be grateful for the things I don’t have.
My life today is much more peaceful and joyful than any other time in my adult life. I didn’t even know to ask for peace, yet it is something I am so incredibly grateful for. I begged God for years to save my marriage because I had always wanted to be married once and one day have a fifty-year anniversary. I am now grateful that He didn’t give me that. In my marriage I felt worthless and never good enough, and now I know I deserve more than what was offered to me.
I am grateful for things I have gone through and the lessons I have learned along the way. In the midst of the pain and hurt, I just wanted those times to end and have everything back like it was. Now I am thankful for learning that God will walk me through everything and that I can survive whatever is thrown at me because He has me. I have grown and become stronger because I am learning to rely on Him for everything. If God had given me what I wanted in life, I’d still be the same person I was and now I am finding who I am and who I’m meant to be.
I didn’t get what I wanted, I got more. So, may we all be grateful for both what we have and what we don’t have. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!