Having recently again picked up the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I was reminded of how blessed and how fortunate I am for so many things. While, I haven’t committed to the challenge of writing them all down, I am still overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that run through my head when I’m asked what I’m thankful for.
This year, I’ve challenged myself to think about the various ways in which I feel I’m not overly thankful. The things that I wish I hadn’t experienced; the events that took place that I wish played out differently; the relationships that caused me sorrow; or the struggles and hurdles that I felt were unfairly placed in my path that I was called to overcome. What I’ve come to realize in this personal challenge is that this list of ‘one thousand regrets’ upon further reflection could be transformed into the gifts I truly should be thankful for this year. So often at this time of year we focus solely on what has gone well in our lives, the people and things that bring us joy, or the opportunities and accomplishments we have acquired or achieved. What we fail to recognize is that the things we may regret or things that brought us hardship and sorrow in the past year provided us with far more than what meets the eye.
This year I’m thankful for a challenging and sometimes painful relationship with a family member. Not only has it caused me to appreciate the stronger, closer relationships I have with other members of my family, I am thankful for the opportunity to practice patience, forgiveness and mercy.
This year I’m thankful for the baby weight that relentlessly refuses to bid me farewell. It calls me to appreciate my child rearing body for the miracles it bestowed upon me. It shines a light on how fortunate I am to know where my next meal will be coming from and an opportunity to indulge was something we could afford.
This year I’m thankful for the stress of a single income. Our marriage has become stronger, and our family experiences more memorable because, we make every cent count. I appreciate the gift of getting to be home with L&O. It is one of the best gifts and blessings to be able to make it work on one less income.
This year I am most thankful for one of my closest and most dear friends moving away. While I could easily say it was the worst thing to transpire, losing a vital supportive friend, this personal challenge allowed me to see how thankful I am to have been gifted with such a wonderful influence on my life that impacted me so greatly in such a short time. People can bring out the best in you, improve weaknesses, and empower you to be more or feel more confident. Sometimes, not until someone cherished moves away, passes away, or parts ways in your life journey are you able to appreciate what they meant, what wisdom they passed along, or what they allowed you to learn about yourself.
This year I challenge you to ponder not what brought you joy, but what brought you heartache and regret. Remember, without the rain you would never fully appreciate the shine. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect and to remember it’s not about getting the turkey in on time, or bringing the best pumpkin pie to dinner. Make this year’s thanksgiving about more; strive to feel stuffed with gratitude than from too much mashed potatoes. Wishing all of you fellow moms a wonderful and thankful Thanksgiving!