I’m sure you’ve seen that list of things to be thankful for that on the surface seem like annoyances, but are indications of blessings.
Early mornings = Children to love
House to clean = Safe place to live
Laundry = Clothes to wear
Perspective is so important. It allows us to step back and see the bigger picture. It helps us to be grateful—even for life’s annoyances. More challenging is applying a different perspective to really hard things like death, infertility, and chronic illness. I can’t say I am thankful for having gone through those really hard things, but I am thankful for the new perspective I have gained by surviving them.
Things I Am Thankful For:
1) My Broken Heart
I’ve written a few times about how both my dad and my grandma died this year. It’s been a hard, hard year. I’ve been wrecked by losing two of my sources of unconditional love. My stomach still knots up when I remember that I can’t call my dad and ask him about a bird I saw. I have a hard time taking a deep breath when I think of all of the stories my grandma still had to tell, and I wasn’t able to capture them all. My tears are so close to the surface.
And yet I am so thankful for my broken heart.
My heart is broken because two wonderful people who loved me deeply and I loved without reserve are gone. How blessed am I to have experienced that kind of love? How amazing is it that I mourn the loss of relationship with dad and grandma because I miss spending time with them and hearing their wisdom, instead of mourning what could have been?
2) I Know the Pain of Infertility
Oh, how I wish getting pregnant was a lot easier for me. After two and a half years, and every fertility treatment my husband and I were comfortable with, I was barren. The month after the last unsuccessful treatment, I became pregnant without medical intervention. I am incredibly thankful for the miracle of our daughter, but I wish we hadn’t faced so many challenges to get pregnant.
There are two reasons I am thankful I went through experiencing infertility.
First, it made me much more aware of other women’s experiences with infertility. It is very common, yet not discussed much. Infertility can cut to the core of a woman’s self worth and identity. My story turned out differently than many women, but I will never stop carrying that infertile time with me. I now do my very best to be aware of others’ struggles, to include women in all their walks, to be sensitive to those whose hearts painfully constrict with another pregnancy announcement.
Second, the timing of my daughter was perfect. She turned one year old when my dad first entered hospice. So, she was old enough to laugh and smile and entertain us with her antics, but too young to be pulled into the sadness. She was pure joy when we all needed it most. My unconditional love for her allowed me to understand how much my dad loved me. What a gift to know in my bones how much I am loved.
3) To Know the Loss of Control Debilitating Migraines Bring
I have suffered from migraines since I was five years old. They are terrible. I get them all to often. They leave me curled up in a ball praying for sleep so I can escape the pain, the nausea, the sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and touch. There is a lot I would trade to avoid having another one.
But they have been so good for helping me to give up control.
Being a perfectionist and not being in control of when I get migraines don’t play well together. I thrive on being reliable and competent. Migraines make me a flake, grasping for words. I do my best to make plans with friends, but they are familiar with the one word text “Migraine” that means I’ll be a no show. My family isn’t surprised when I leave a gathering early because the pain is too much. I’ve had to learn to be okay with failing to bring the quiche to brunch, missing out on events, taking forever to accomplish goals—all because of migraines.
They have also made me much more sympathetic with others who suffer from chronic conditions, whether visible or invisible.
A Grateful Heart
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of using a lacquer dusted with gold, or other precious metal, to repair broken pottery. The brokenness of the pottery is made beautiful through the repair. I see gratefulness as being a kintsugi repair on my heart. Hard times have left their mark, but my life is more beautiful and rich for having experienced them.
What hard lessons are you thankful for?