“There is no joy without gratitude.”– Brene’ Brown
My journey to motherhood was uphill. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and it was ten months before I conceived again. Then, when I was ten weeks pregnant, my husband told me he wanted a divorce. My pregnancy was filled with upheaval. It was a very painful time in my life.
My labor and delivery were also hard, enduring a 24-hour labor that ended with an emergency c-section. My new, beautiful baby boy was born perfect. I should have been filled with joy. But I was a terrified, first-time mom going through a divorce. My heart was full of pain, anger, resentment and bitterness.
Being a mom to my son was much harder than I anticipated. He was the baby who never slept and who wanted to nurse every hour. I started motherhood depleted and my baby quickly exhausted me mentally, emotionally and physically. I felt like a zombie, going through the motions of daily life while wrapping up my divorce and trying to figure out what to do next with my own life, while sharing my son’s life with my ex.
I was a mess on the inside. My heart was deeply hurt and broken. I struggled to pick up the pieces and wondered how I could manage moving forward with my life after such a devastating experience. I limped through the days.
A Special Necklace
Nearing my second mother’s day, I was shopping online on Etsy for gifts for my mom and my sister. I decided to get them each a unique hand-stamped necklace. I stopped my browsing when my eyes landed on the necklace pictured here. Grateful Heart, it reads. I put the item in my cart, planning to wear it around my own neck.
And I’ve worn that necklace hundreds of days over the last decade. Every time I feel it around my neck, it reminds me that my joy is found in counting my blessings. Practicing gratitude brings joy into my life.
We talk about gratefulness a lot around this time of year. Our kiddos make lists at school telling us what they are thankful for. Maybe everyone around your Thanksgiving table will share something they are thankful for. Keeping our many blessings in mind is important. Without it, our lives will lack the joy we are all desperate for.
But what about being thankful when life is not going well? Where does gratefulness live on the hard days? I know that I can get caught up in the list of bad things going on in my life sometimes. And when I start thinking about one bad thing, I think of another. And before I know it, I’ve started to dwell on the negatives, and it drags me down into a pit of bitterness and my joy evaporates.
Because of my hard times, I learned to practice being grateful on a regular basis. It is not a natural way of thinking for me; I have to be intentional and practice. Unsurprisingly, I can think of things I am grateful for every single day. Even in the midst of my divorce, even in the midst of extreme sleep deprivation, even in the midst of the hardest days being a mom, there is always always always something to be grateful for.
I encourage you to take a moment right now and think of something you’re grateful for. Name it. Say it out loud. Write it down. Tell a friend. Tomorrow, think of two more things you are grateful for. Start a list. It is these blessings that we can return to when we face difficult times. Being grateful generates joy within our hearts. And who doesn’t need more joy.
What are you grateful for today?