This season of practicing gratefulness has been tough. There have been days where I have really had to work hard to maintain a spirit of gratitude. This week has been especially difficult.
I started the week with my 22nd anniversary. A day that brought forth so much internal struggle. I am thankful for the good times and the children that God blessed me with but I am hurt and saddened by the failing of the marriage. When you've been with someone for half of your life, it's painful to have to say goodbye. No matter the reason why. I am thankful for coworkers who helped me through that day with lots of laughter and silliness. I am also thankful for my Bible study ladies who cover me in prayer on a daily basis but even more on the tough days.
On Tuesday I had to deal with a situation involving my daughter. A situation where she made a bad decision and had to learn a hard lesson. A situation that she and her Dad purposefully kept from me. I am thankful that she reached out for guidance before making the wrong choice but I am so angry that she was not given counsel that told her not to do it. I am so proud of her for being honest about her involvement when she was asked. She did what was right in that moment even when she knew that her friends would be upset with her.
I am also thankful for friends who allowed me to vent to them and process some of my emotions before my daughter and I discussed the situation. I can't even imagine the pain that she deals with on a daily basis as a teenager whose parents are going through a divorce. And then on top of that she has to deal with her Dad seeking her approval for the new woman in his life. I have to find a balance between firmness and gentleness as well as grace and consequences when parenting her.
By Wednesday I was emotionally drained and exhausted. But WHAM!!! I was hit again. This time it was an email from my attorney. After over a month with no communication, we finally had received a response from my husband's attorney. It was mostly good news about the changes we were proposing to the agreements.
But then it ended with this, "Recently your client has been disparaging mine on Facebook with regard to child support. Considering the fact that we are working towards a resolution of this matter, and that my client has generally been in agreement with all of her requests, this behavior is particularly disturbing and unacceptable. Disparaging each other in a manner viewable by the children is inappropriate, please discuss this matter with your client."
I was early into my shift at work when I read that. I felt like I had been sucker punched in the gut. My chest felt heavy and I got this terrible nauseous feeling come over me. I just wanted to crumble into a mess of tears. But I couldn't.
I am so thankful that I was working with my all time favorite co-worker that day. She has walked this journey on a much harder level than I am. And through everything that she has been through, she is still one of the kindest, sweetest, most generous fun-loving people you will ever meet. She has shared so much wisdom and "been there, heard that" counsel with me throughout this whole process. Her and Jesus are the only reasons I could make it through that day with a smile on my face. It was smiling through tears at times, but I made it.
Thursday started with the early shift and a yummy meal with my coworkers. Then it was off to start a new tradition of sharing a Thanksgiving meal with the newly weds and her parents. There was lots of laughter and great conversation. The boys continued the tradition of some turkey day football. We ended the day watching one of my favorite Christmas movies, Elf!! And Friday, I began Christmas decorating.
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, because it's God's will for us. It's not always easy to be thankful. especially when our circumstances are painful and ugly. But if we look to Jesus we can see how we can turn our pain into joy.
It's called "Eucharisteo". "It's how Jesus at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things - take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. This, is the hard eucharisteo. Lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty." ~ Ann Voskamp
No matter how difficult and painful my circumstances may be, there is always something to be thankful for. It can be a hug from a friend, a smile from a stranger, an encouraging text, God's grace, a good night's sleep or a silly movie that makes you laugh. There are days when you have to lean into the ugly and be thankful in it to experience the joy from it.