Today I am putting a different spin on my gratitude to celebrate Thanksgiving. Normally I focus on all the wonderful things in my life for which it is very easy for me to feel grateful for. Today I am focusing on the things that I have to discipline myself to say “thank you” for. The ones that through gritted teeth I say “Thank you God” when every fiber of my being is kicking, screaming and fighting and I would rather not face. The things that have brought me to tears and to my knees. The ones that have caused such pain and brokenness that seemed like it would be impossible to heal from. The things that I have wished that I never had to walk through.
But today, I am looking at all of this through a different lens. God reminded me this morning that I can be grateful even if I don’t feel it and sometimes the feelings of gratitude come at a much delayed rate. Today I am grateful for all the struggles that I have experienced in my life. Not because I like them, but because they have brought me to a life that I love (most of the time, lol). My pain and brokenness brought me to God, to really seeking and knowing Him. I turned to Him when I was desperate and had nowhere else to turn.
I couldn’t keep trying to do it on my own. Self-reliance continued to lead me to a place of darkness and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I have heard an acronym for God: Gift Of Desperation. That was definitely me. I had to be totally desperate to fully open myself to Him. Of course He knew that all along.
I have also heard that God is a gentleman. He doesn’t barge His way into our lives nor does He force us into anything. Thankfully He knows me so much better than I know myself. He loves me so much and knew that coming to a place of desperation would absolutely be a gift for me because it would lead me to Him. He continues to discipline me in a kind and gentle way and thankfully I eventually have enough sense and openness to listen (although sometimes it takes a while).
“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12
“And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said ‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.’” Hebrews 12:5-6
My anguish brought me to 12-step programs which have given me a closer relationship with God, myself and others. My sorrows and heartbreaks are excruciating at times, but without them I won’t grow. It’s not the good times that mature me, it’s the tough times. I’m either moving forward or moving backward, there is no plateau, standing still or coasting for me. I’m growing or I’m dying and it’s my choice.
My pain has brought me to places of death emotionally and spiritually. There was a period that I actually wanted to physically die. Those deep, dark holes make me appreciate and strive for growth because that means I’m alive and there is no greater gift than that!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4