Recently, I was asked to write a piece on gratitude and what I am grateful for in my life. It IS the week of Thanksgiving so it is only natural that we pull out our lists of all of the blessings in our lives. So my thought to this request? Piece of cake! (Cake! Don’t let me forget to add cake to my list of things I am grateful for!)I started off writing my list of all the ones I love and all of the luxuries we have in this country that we take for granted. The items easily filled a piece of paper and this task was complete in no time.
I read over my list and nothing was surprising. It’s so easy to remind ourselves of the people and things in life that make us feel good and make us happy. The challenge? The challenge is finding gratitude in places in our lives where it is dark and the shadows are lurking. The depths, the lows and the events that have hurt us in life are hard to be thankful for. But you know what? There is power in looking back to those moments, those times when all you wanted was time to pass. There is power in realizing what you lost was actually one of your biggest gains in life. Typically, it’s hard to find light when you are standing in the darkness, but when the clouds have past and you see the sun again, suddenly, you realize there is beauty in pain and hardships.
So hear me out as I take you through a bit of a different sort of “Things I am Grateful For” list.
I am grateful for the shadows. I am grateful for the pain, for the moments that I wanted to skip through and fast forward to the next. Why would I be so thankful for such things? Every moment I wanted to be over and yet I came through reminds me that I have the power, I have the strength.
I am grateful for the time my mom had cancer. No, I would NEVER wish such a thing on anyone nor was I happy my mom was sick, but the time we pushed through together as a family was the defining point of how strong we really were as a team. We held each other up. We cried together. We became vulnerable and open. Most of all, I was taught how important the moments we have with each other and that we never know how long we have so LOVE NOW.
I am grateful for the times I dealt with anxiety and depression. Without these times, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to feel true joy and happiness. Just as the yin and the yang teach us, in order to know real happiness, we must know real pain. The lowest times in my life, while they are far from anything I’d like to return to, have helped me grow and become stronger. I know that these times have made me a more compassionate person who can relate to others dealing with pain.
I am grateful for jobs not landed. I am grateful for failed relationships, for the losses and the heartaches in my life. All of these things have over time added up to this very moment exactly where I am. Without each and every setback and struggle, I would not be able to come close to grasping how good I’ve really got it. My life is so good and I am so blessed. Had I not spent time in the shadows and the darkness, the warmth of the sunshine would not feel the same. I am loved. I am blessed. Sure, my life is not perfect, but there is nothing I would change, not a thing.
~~Happy Thanksgiving to you all!~~