Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

On Being Thankful

Shortly after I started blogging, I wrote a post that addressed holiday emotions: HolidayCheer, Holiday Blues (which would later become my first published article!) At the time I wrote it, I was at a good place in life, happily single, surrounded by fabulous friends and family, and had “adopted” a group of elderly widow ladies at church.  I’ve always had a heart for people who seem lonely, and it blessed me so much to bring a tiny little ray of sunshine into the lives of these ladies simply by reminding them how special they are.  We all have friends who have lost loved ones, or who are separated by work or military obligations, etc.  The holidays, while filled with magic and wonder for many, are often difficult times of sadness for those who are lonely.  My article encouraged the reader to remember those who might be hurting or sad, and to be a blessing to someone in need.

Four years later, I find myself on the other end of the spectrum – one of those people facing an empty chair at my dinner table, a lonely spot on my sofa, and one pillow on my bed instead of two. 

Is it possible to remain thankful through heartbreak and disappointment?

Each November, lots of folks on Facebook will post every day of the month something for which they are thankful. I love reading these posts! Some are lighthearted and comical, but most are heartfelt and meaningful.  I didn’t participate this year.  Instead, I just added a silent “amen” or sometimes clicked the “like” button to the posts of others.  I read each and every one, and was surprised at how many folks sometimes commented that “nobody probably reads these”.  Yes, people read them, and perhaps like me, were reminded to be thankful for those things we often take for granted. 

Being thankful seems to comes natural to me.  I suppose it probably originated from my early years, when learning to talk to God during prayer.  I was taught to thank God for my blessings.  And to thank Him for my trials, even though I may not understand the reason for them.  (No doubt, the blessings are way easier to be thankful for than the trials.  Bleh.)

The dark days of trials are tough, and I sometimes have trouble thanking God for the bad stuff.  Even so, I can usually manage to find something for which to be thankful. Sometimes it's just being thankful to have made it through the day without a meltdown, or without stabbing someone with a fork.  I have learned (and continue to learn) many things while navigating the stormy waters of this trial.  Things about myself, things about others.  About what matters most.  And who matters most.  I don’t like the place where I am emotionally, but I am thankful that every day, another tiny, microscopic sliver of light dispels another tiny, microscopic sliver of darkness.  Today is better than 126 days ago when my world was forever changed.  For that I am thankful.  I am stronger than I ever thought I could be – and for that I am thankful - but only because I have traveled through a place where I was weaker than I ever could have imagined.   Am I a better person for the journey?  Some days I would say yes.  Some days not so much.  I still sometimes feel the need to pitch a hissy fit, and some days I can’t help throwing flaming arrows and prickly barbs at the one who hurt me.  Those are not my finest moments.  It usually doesn’t take me long to come back to earth and face the very simple reality.  It Is What It Is.  For the trip back to reality, I am thankful. 

Everybody hurts.  Everybody cries, sometimes.  (Thank you, REM, for a great song!!) I'm not alone. 

I don’t understand it.  I doubt that I ever will.   If you know me well, you know I’ve got some control freak DNA goin’ on, and there is the need to at least understand it, since I had no control over it. But I don't understand. I really hate that part!! The assault on my heart and my emotions has been devastating – but the collateral damage has been extensive as well.  My family has rallied around me in such a manner that makes me think of a mama bear protecting her cub.  I have seen their tears and sadness in my behalf, and I have listened to their words of encouragement. Family matters.  And for them I am thankful. 

Going through this experience has also reminded of a foolish decision I made long ago that inflicted the same kind of damage to another family that I love, and I am humbled by, and very thankful for, their forgiveness. 

There’s an anonymous quote that I’ve always loved:  “I believe that friends are quiet angels who sit on our shoulders and lift our wings when we forget how to fly."  When the days are dark, and the nights are lonely, sometimes it’s just not worth the effort to raise my wings, and I simply don’t care, or even try to catch the breeze any more.  I don’t know for sure if guardian angels really exist.  Regardless of whether or not they do, every day I pray and ask Jesus to send them to surround and protect my grandbabies.  I believe they do exist, and it comforts me.  One thing I know for absolute certainty.  I have my own guardian angel.  She is not an unseen heavenly being with supernatural powers to protect me from evil and harm.  She doesn’t wear a halo or wings, and she doesn’t float around on a cloud singing, or playing a harp.  She lives 5 doors down from me, and she has been my source of sanity, encouragement, and the voice of reason and hope for the past 20 years, and especially the past few months. I love my daughter, my mama, my aunts, my cousins, my girlfriends, and my awesome co-workers, and all those girls have been there for me in girl ways I can’t even begin to explain!  But there is absolutely no earthly way I would have survived this without my own guardian angel, DJ.  Sometimes, she’s right there beside me, throwing flaming arrows and prickly barbs.  Sometimes she throws gasoline on the flames....  and sometimes she douses them with water when I get a little out of hand.  But she doesn’t judge me. For that I am thankful.  She tells me when I’m wrong, and she helps me see through eyes that are not blinded by tears or self pity.  She forces me to breathe when I don’t want to, or when I forget how.  She makes me laugh.  She lets me cry.  She kicks my butt when I need it.  She hugs me close when I need it.  When I first moved back here she brought me food because she knew I wasn’t eating right.  She does her best to protect me from hurtful things – sometimes including my own self, because of  my thoughts and attitude.  She helps me see that, while the situation that brought me back to The 409 is a sad waste of a beautiful thing, now that I am here, there are good things for which to be thankful.  While I never wanted to come back alone, it is good to be back in my home. It is good to be back among my family of neighbors.  It is good to be almost within hollerin’ distance of my aging parents.  It is good that I am here to take the kids to school every day since the new drop-off schedule would mean extra child-care expense for Whitney and Dustin.  (The extra bonus to that is that I get to see the children for a few minutes every day!)  It is good that I can take an extended lunch break and go to their class functions and parties, when their mom and dad aren’t able to go because of work. Or pick them up when they are sick, or transport them to appointments.  It is good that I can have coffee time at The Huth House on Saturday mornings – something I didn’t do while living in Winterville, though I had vowed I would continue doing it. 

Never in a million years would I have traded my  husband for these things. But since my husband decided to shake things up and end our marriage, I am thankful for the blessings that were waiting for me back home at The 409.

There’s no denying that this has been one of the worst years in the history of my entire life.  Every day is a struggle through the mud and quicksand.  I am reminded of an earthquake that destroys the landscape.  The rocks and trees will someday settle back into place, the rubble will be cleared and the buildings replaced. Years down the road the untrained eye might never know of the deep chasms that once ripped open the face of the earth.  But the contour of the land is forever changed, and the scars will be deep.  Years from now, one may never know of this awful journey I’ve taken.  Life will go on, and there will be brighter, happier times.  But the scars will run deep, and the shape of my life has forever changed.  I am a different person.  Better or worse… that remains to be seen.  I hope and pray I will be a better person, a kinder person, and a more thoughtful and compassionate person.  In the meantime, the landscape is still pretty much a wreck, and there are broken boulders strewn all about – but with time and patience, God’s grace and mercy, and a little help from my guardian angel… I’ll be just fine. And I will choose to be thankful for everything I have learned.  

While it has been a crappy year, and I've pretty much made it All About Me, I do indeed have a Thankful List that has nothing to do with my personal drama.  Like most everyone else, my Thankful List includes my faith, family and friends, to live in a free nation, God's grace and forgiveness, my home, my job, those who serve and protect, etc.  With a list like that, how can I complain?

Yes, it is possible to remain thankful during heartbreak and disappointment.  Not only is it possible, it is a key element in the healing process.  I am thankful for my blessings, and I am thankful that in my trials, I am never alone. 

But above and beyond the scope of all the above things listed, for this Thanksgiving Day 2012, I am most thankful for my guardian angel… my dearest, and one of my oldest friends since even before elementary school…. Debbie Jo.  My wings flutter a little stronger every day, and soon I’ll be able to fly on my own again… because of her.  I am so blessed.

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