A few years ago I was going through one of the hardest times of my life. I had been struck with a disease that left me needing to learn once again how to walk, write, and so much more. While for the most part I had a positive attitude and outlook on my rehabilitation, there were times that the guilt and self pity began to set in. Guilt that I wasn’t able to do for my family the things I felt I should. It was Christmas time, my house wasn’t decorated, presents hadn’t been bought, and and this was one of those times, I began to feel crushed by the guilt of not creating a holiday that my family was used to. Self pity began to set in.
On one particular day, after our church Christmas program, I was feeling particularly low, however I wore my mask that day, plastered with a smile, and when asked how I was doing, I would reply that I was doing wonderfully, things were looking up, but inside I was feeling crushed, heartbroken, and low in hope. Someone noticed that I would continue the conversations and tell people, that I felt horrible that I could not decorate, buy presents, or even cook the family Christmas dinner. This person came over to me and told me “stop it”. At first I was angry at their response. I felt like telling this person, that they had no idea the hardships I struggled with, that they didn’t know what was going on inside of me. But then they continued to talk, and told me how much I had to be thankful for. First I was alive, this condition took many lives, second I was not able to do many things, but look at all that I had regained. She continued to talk, about all the positive things in my life. It might sound harsh or unkind, however she was right, my pity party was not productive. It would not have accomplished anything. Everyone needs someone in their life that tells them the truth, I am very thankful for this person in my life.
I was advised that it would be good to begin to keep a gratitude journal, it has been so effective in my life that I still keep one today, years later. She suggested I start out with just one thing I was thankful and grateful for a day, then increase it to 2 or 3, and work my way up to writing 5 things in that day that I was particularly thankful for. A pity party that I had been allowing myself to get buried in did nothing to fuel my faith, nothing to feed my motivation, it just allowed me to spiral lower and lower.
Trouble comes, hardships sail your way, life can become increasingly difficult, heartbreaks are inevitable, dreams don’t always come true, but in all of it give thanks.
It sounds ridiculous to be thankful in these times, like you may have something loose in your head. What is there to be thankful for in this stage of my life. Seemingly, there may not appear to be anything tangible that you’re thankful for, but stop for a second and give thanks. Examine your circumstances, if we look it is easy to find something to be thankful for, even if it is just the fact that you have breath today.
I would like to encourage you today, that when life is hard, when things just can’t seem to get worse (and then somehow they do), raise your hands to the One who holds your life in His hands and give thanks. Thanksgiving from a place of brokenness is worth so much. To look up from the valley, and see that there is still hope, because you serve the God who is able. The scripture from 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verses 16 to 18 tells us, ” … Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This scripture does not say do all these things only if your life is perfect, but rather in all things, in every situation, rejoice evermore, pray, and give thanks. Make this your everyday lifestyle. Angie Hallam