Does the mention of the word “thankful” make you want to run and hide? When your heart’s been broken by your beloved son or daughter the last thing you feel like doing is being thankful. If they’re incarcerated, have AIDS, are slowly killing themselves with alcohol or drugs (or maybe an eating disorder), suffer with a mental illness, threaten suicide repeatedly, self-injure continually but refuse help, you want the world to go away. I know. I’ve felt that way, especially when my daughter wasn’t doing well close to Thanksgiving.
But wait – there’s so much to be thankful for, EVEN when you’re in pain because of your child’s choices, behaviors and struggles. You may say, as I once did, “Shut up and don’t talk to me. It ain’t happening. How can I? There’s nothing to be thankful for! ”
I know, I know . . . it’s so easy to get stuckfocusing on all the negative, especially when there may be a lot of it! One thing that helped me get unstuck was making myself look for something to be thankful for every day, even if was as simple as the fact that the sun was shining, or that I got out of bed. (Sometimes you have to get down to the basics.) Developing this habit protected me from self-pity. It helped me not give in to depression.
We’re on the verge of Thanksgiving and then Christmas comes quickly on its heels. I find myself thinking a lot about what Jesus did for sinful humanity, and that includes me. I’m drawn to the cross and all it represents as a Christ follower. It naturally pulls me outside of myself. After all, it was his selflessness that took him there.
I’m thankful for my family – my loving, faithful, husband (of over 36 years!), three wonderful children, an incredible ‘daughter-in-love’ and ‘son-in-love’, and two precious granddaughters.
I’m thankful for awesome friends. I’m thankful for my spiritual family and a great church community.
I’m thankful for my home. I’m thankful for beautiful flowers in my yard. I’m thankful I can hear the songs of bird’s, for music that uplifts my soul, for encouraging books and for Bible verses that provide comfort. One I really like on this topic is:
“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:17).”
I’m thankful for the purpose I’ve found when I share my experiences with other hurting parents.
I’m thankful that my challenging daughter is still alive and doing so well. I’m thankful that she tells me she loves me and gives me a big hug every time I see her. I’m thankful our relationship has been reconciled and healed. I’m thankful that she wants to be with us for the holidays. I’m thankful that she’s discovered the gift of singing and song writing and jewelry making that blesses many people.
I’m thankful that in the midst of pain and uncertainty God gives His unspeakable Peace.
I’m thankful that even when I thought my daughter might not live through the night You were with me — and her.
I’m thankful that when everything was dark, chaotic and out of control, You were in control. Your light broke through.
Thank you, God, that You can bring purpose out of ALL our pain. All. of. it.
Heavenly Father, when times are hard help us choose to give thanks instead of grumbling, complaining or feeling sorry for ourselves. Help us shift our focus to gratitude. There’s always something we can be thankful for. Make us willing to find it!
In Jesus name.