I’ve been thinking a lot about thankfulness as Thanksgiving approaches, as I try to explain this concept to Andrew and Will in a way that they’ll understand. It’s made me reflective, as I think back over the rough year we’ve had and everything we’ve dealt with -- some of which I’ve talked about here, some I haven’t. It’s been the hardest year of our marriage so far, which is really saying a lot.
When I look back at myself a year ago, I can’t help but feel foolish and naïve. I thought Joe’s new job was going to solve all of our problems. I was already scouring the real estate listings, searching for a dream home I just knew was practically in our grasp. I was imagining vacations, new cars, and investment accounts.
I was overlooking what was really important.
For about three months after everything that happened, I was so bitter. Why us, universe? After all we’ve been through, why more? You know that phrase about God not giving you more than you can handle? For a long time I was sure that was a lie, because so much of the time I felt like I was thisclose to breaking into a million pieces.
But now that the dust has settled, now that this year is nearly behind us, I’m starting to understand just how much I really do have to be thankful for. Every year I recite the things I’m thankful for as if they’re a list on a page: our family, our friends, a roof over our heads, food on the table, our health, clothes, heat. I don’t think I’ve ever meant it more than I do this year. Even though there are bills that haven’t been paid this year (and still aren’t being paid), we still have our home. We still have money for food and for our heating bill. My boys had warm coats to wear and an equally warm breakfast to eat on this cold morning. Every week our bank account is empty, but our bellies are full.
And so are our hearts.
Joe and I had a long talk about all of this last night, and I found myself crying (as I’m sitting here doing right now, actually), because I’m just so thankful for this awful, hard, tough year. It has taught me so much and refocused me on the things that are really important. It’s showed me my own strength. It’s confirmed how solid my marriage is, because if Joe and I have made it through all of this, nothing is going to break us. It’s helped me enjoy the sweet innocence of my sons even more. It’s showed me that there’s no shame in admitting that you’re struggling and that you need help. It’s taught me the true value of our family and friends, who have rallied around us and supported us through it all -- from Joe’s grandpa buying a new battery for my car, to my stepmom buying me a new dress and the boys new shoes for a wedding, to Joe’s aunt providing a place for our boys to grow and learn, free of charge.
And then there are all of you, people who I have never even met, who have sent me gifts, prayers and words of encouragement all year long. I have no words to express how thankful, humbled, and overwhelmed I am by these kindnesses.
I am just so, so thankful. Now more than ever.