Give Thanks Till It Hurts

Today is Thanksgiving. We’re with The Grandmas. We’ll have way too much food. We’ll say a prayer filled with Thanks.

It’s easy. The hardest part of the day will be remembering to stop eating when I’m full and finding space in the fridge for all the leftovers. Well, that and keeping Little Sir from dismantling Grandma’s house.

But I’ve been intrigued the last couple of weeks with the idea of when thankfulness isn’t easy.

When gratitude hurts.

I in no way want to promote the idea of martyrdom. Pained faces mumbling gratitude for their suffering. Ick.

It’s more recognizing that pain can be transformed. That if you’re alive, your story isn’t over yet and there’s still time for the hard things to turn out okay. Well, maybe not okay, but to turn into something else. Something that isn’t hard.

It’s easy to be thankful for too much food, loving Grandmas and adorable children.

But what about when it’s not easy?

What about when being thankful hurts?

I’m thankful for an imperfect family. Because I have been able to reach out to children and they knew that I knew. They knew I got it. Because I had been there.

I’m thankful I knew adults failed me as a child because it has made me a strong advocate for children in my work and family  life.

And when I have failed at that advocacy, I have learned just how hard it was for those adults that failed me to always know exactly what the right thing was. My failure has helped me forgive those who failed me.

I’m thankful for the friends who are no longer my friends. Their absence allows me to be clear who I can turn to and who I can’t. And the void they left allows me to better love those who remain.

I’m thankful for the heartbreaks. Each one has taken me to a new place that I never expected,  but yet so appreciate. I’m not quite there after this most recent one, but I have faith I will get there eventually because I have done it before.

I’m not some PollyAnna, I’m too sarcastic for that much optimism.

It’s not about optimism.

It’s about honesty.

Because, honestly? I am not  grateful for any of those things.

They were horrible.

What I am really grateful for is God’s mysterious intricacy that can  help me recover and move forward in spite of the detours and dysfunction (mine and others). That from those things comes a ceasing of the pain and a new skill. A new understanding. A new way to think. A new way to love. A something that becomes a foothold, a handhold, a boost forward.

Forward to help others. Forward to love others. Forward to be the best version of the me he intended.

For that I am grateful. Even when it hurts.