“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Abraham Lincoln
This quote from Abraham Lincoln is very powerful – and it’s absolutely true. How you respond to your situation is a choice. It is your choice to make. There are so many times in life that it may be all you can do to simply get out of bed in the morning, let alone accomplish a miracle of actually finding something to be thankful for. Today is a very special day for some, and a heartbreaking day for others. People have the choice today – give thanks, or accept depression (or insert whatever “condition” a person might find themselves in instead of being thankful). Sometimes it’s easier said than done, and I get that. Ask me how I know!?
Those of you who know me personally, know much (if not all) of what I am about to say. However, for those of you who don’t, I’d like to share a little bit about the things in life I am thankful for, but the emotions and situations that played a part in the not so happy or thankful times. I have so, so very much to be thankful for – though I’ll admit, I haven’t always seen it that way.
I will use one very personal, but fitting example of this principle in action. On Thanksgiving day, five years ago, our family experienced a loss that I often find hard to put into words. On this day reserved for giving thanks, we were not doing as much of that as I’d have liked. You see, we lost a baby that day. To be honest, I had no idea if I would ever be able to be thankful again. For the record, that didn’t last long – as I gazed into the eyes of my precious two children. We had suffered a heartbreaking loss, however, we had also been blessed with such a loving and amazing family.
This experience was full of many moments where it was all about perspective. The loss of a baby is not anything I would wish on anyone. Not ever. For me, however, it gave me much time to reflect. There was nothing in this world that would bring her back, and no way possible to change this. I came to know that, while my life was forever changed by this, it would also not be the end of the world. I knew the potential was there for God’s plan. I wasn’t fond of God’s plan at that moment. I wasn’t ever really angry at God. Disappointed? Absolutely. But, I didn’t blame God. We’ll never know why this happened, or why He allowed it — but I’m pretty sure it was part of such a sweet plan He had for our family.
Much to our surprise, we found out we were pregnant with our (now four year old) baby girl. It was a shocking, but absolutely welcome surprise. She was born exactly one year, minus a day, after our loss. Thanksgiving one year was filled with heartbreak, and the following year with a newborn.
As I sit here today, five years later, I realize many things. I am blessed more than I can figure words to say. No, I’m not (and I’d imagine never will be) thankful that we lost our baby. However, I AM thankful that our precious daughter is here today. She wouldn’t be if we had not experienced what we did. God’s timing is perfect.
It’s all in perspective. I could have chosen to live a life full of grief, thus affecting every area of my life OR I could choose to see His hand in things beyond my control – realizing, that He is, and forever will be in control. He is the God of yesterday, today and forever. He’s got the whole world in His capable hands – even mine – even yours. Yes, there are times we remember, and have emotions connected with that. We don’t, however, have to live in that depressed moment.
Here is my challenge to you — take time today to give thanks for the things you are thankful for. Beyond that, though, I’d like to ask you to take it one step further. I want you to reflect on the things that you aren’t so happy about. Don’t dwell, but think about those things that you aren’t thankful for in any way, shape or form. Take that, and find something (anything) positive that has come from it. I know there are certain situations where you may feel as if nothing good could come from such a bad situation. However, think about it – come up with that one thing that has been positive as a result….and then, give thanks for that. (I’d love to know how this goes for you. Feel free to post in comments or “contact me” through this page. Looking forward to your stories!)
Someone recently asked what tops the list of things I am thankful for this holiday season. My response was short and sweet, but heartfelt in every way. My answer was simply, “The typical “my God and my family” response came to mind and holds that top spot on the list. However, also very much on my mind, is the ability to have gone (or go) through pain and emerging on the other side with the ability to share strength and hope with others as a result…that, and grateful for the friends and family I look to in similar situations.” That’s what it’s all about — finding strength and a reason to be thankful, even when there seems to be nothing worthy of giving thanks for! Have a blessed day guys, and Happy Thanksgiving!