A dear friend of mine and I were trekking toward Florida not long ago, talking like we always do, until we barely had spit left. One of the topics was about how the pain we survive in our lives always leads to something wonderful. Time and again.
“I never thought I’d be thankful for the opportunity to raise a child alone,” I said. “But then again, I wouldn’t know how incredibly powerful I can be in tough situations. I wouldn’t know what truly makes me tick as a woman. I wouldn’t have the strength maybe- to tap into what I thought I could not possibly do.”
Very frequently, when I have one of those, “I can’t possibly take this pain” moments, I draw from that twenty-something-year-old memory, standing in front of a place I was leaving, without a job or a car. All I had was a beautiful baby boy on my hip, who wrapped his pudgy fingers in my hair when I rocked him to sleep.
At that moment, my little boy was the only one of us who believed in us. And the road was extra darn rocky for many, many years. But guess what? If that fork in the road hadn’t happened in my life, I probably wouldn’t have spent so many years on my knees, begging for direction. The end result is a wonderful, capable young man who loves his mama- no matter what. We are a team. And he is the other half of my beating heart. Always.
My friend agreed, spilling secrets about how a broken heart led her to new skills. As she tried to medicate her pain and grow past the loss, she discovered her talents in stained glass work, photography, cooking.
The conversation made me think of a magnet I keep on my fridge. It reads simply, “Barn’s burnt down. Now I can see the moon.”
When I saw that magnet the first time a few years ago, in a store, I bawled my head off. Because it’s so very true. Sometimes you have to search hard for the good stuff after the bad. And sometimes not- you just blink and immediately see a blessing.
On Thanksgiving Day, we will do an awesome job of simply drinking in the many blessings in our lives; healthy children, happy, chunky little grandbabies, homes with heat and clean water, enough food on the table to feed the neighborhood.
But it’s harder to be thankful for the times we were so hurt by someone else that we lost our breath. It’s more difficult to be thankful for a broken relationship that made you feel- quite literally- that your face was being dragged through gravel. It’s hard to say goodbye when someone dies too young.
It’s so very difficult to close your eyes and give thanks for the moments you’ve been the most weak, the most lost.
The loss of marriages, friendships, jobs- if we look behind the pain, we always see new people who came into our lives when we needed them most and new strengths we never knew we carried around in our hearts.
This Thanksgiving Day, take yourself a few quiet moments to connect the dots in your life- “if this hadn’t happened, I would never know this or would never have done that.” The list is endless and it’s magical. Before you know it, you’ll be so incredibly happy that you survived nasty divorces or watching friends die or failing at something you absolutely believed you could do. Behind each one of those horrible moments is a deep, sweet sparkle of goodness.
Yep, it’s awesome to be thankful for the bumps in the road.
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