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Friday, November 20, 2015

Thankful For.....the Decapitated Rat.

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is next week! Are you ready? While I am not ready for the festivities I am well aware of the many things I should be grateful for! The biggest one is probably having my family together for the holidays! My husband will actually be home AND my father will be celebrating with us too! Trust me, I know how lucky our family is to be together for the holidays. We have spent so many apart! For those of you that can't be with your family during this time, whether it be be due to deployments, separation, death, money, weather, etc..... my heart goes out to you. 

While November can be a crazy month it also known to be the time to show appreciation and gratitude for things that you have. Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) is notorious for having a "thankful" challenge that consists of posting a status update or a picture of something you are grateful for for 30 consecutive days. Sometimes these posts/pictures are of the obvious (family, home, car) and other times they are of the simpler things. Like when your husband killed the roach on the wall or that you got to sleep in for an extra 15 minutes. Reading all the posts of my friends and family helps to remind me to be thankful for those same things. Sometimes someone will point something out that I unknowingly take for granted. (Thanks for the reminder!)

Ironically, not everybody appreciates seeing all these posts. "Why only show appreciation during November? What about the other months?" Good point! However, I look at it as a welcome relief to see so many people making a conscious effort, to stop for a moment and just be grateful!

Granted, we all have periods of time when it is hard to feel appreciative of anything. Our stresses and anxieties keep us from being positive, or from seeing the good things right in front of us. It's not as easy to find the blessings when they aren't wrapped in pretty packages. Sometimes they are disguised and hidden in the midst of chaos. You might have to dig deep to find it, but often times, those are the BEST blessings of all!

Last week I heard a phrase (bible verse, actually) that pretty much summed up what I just expressed.  "Give thanks in all circumstances....."

Simple, right? Read it again....

"Give thanks in all circumstances......"

Notice anything?

When you really break down those five words, notice it doesn't say, "Give thanks FOR all circumstances" It says, "IN".

"In" versus "all".

There is a big difference!

While you don't have to be thankful FOR your car breaking down on the highway, you can still be thankful IN the circumstance. Thankful that you were able to pull over onto the shoulder. Thankful that it happened during the day. Thankful that it didn't happen when you were in a rush to get home to relieve the babysitter. Yes, it is inconvenient (and probably expensive) but you can still be thankful IN the circumstance.

Maybe you can relate to some of the situations that I have been in, where I had to consciously make an effort to be thankful IN the midst of feeling frustrated and overwhelmed:

Such as the days that I had to be both both mommy and daddy when my husband was gone for work. Sometimes he would be gone for months at a time. A couple of times it was close to a year.  Was I thankful FOR this circumstance? No. But could I be thankful IN the circumstance? Yes. I could be thankful that my husband has a full time job and provides for our family. Thankful that during that time I can stay home and take care of my girls. So while I am not thankful FOR my husband being gone, I can be thankful IN his absence. YES, it's hard, but give thanks IN all circumstances!

At times I will still find it difficult to be appreciative. When that happens I take it a step further and ask myself, "WHO would want to be in my position? Who would view my stress as a blessing? Who would want to tell me to "shut it" and quit my whining and complaining?" In the case of my husband being gone it might be a single mom, who has to work two or more jobs to provide for her kids. That same mom that only gets to see them in the morning when she wakes them up and then at night when she tucks them in. That mom who would do just about anything to spend more time with her children. That person might view my life as "lucky".

Okay. I got it. I will shut my mouth.

Another situation that we can all relate to with holiday shopping coming up: the never ending line at the check out register. Am I thankful FOR the line? Heck no. You know what you are thinking when you are standing there. "Why isn't the line moving? Why is this cashier so slow? Why aren't there more cashiers?" Seriously. What's to be grateful for in this situation? Who would want to be in this line? Well, maybe someone who barely has enough money to pay for groceries for their family. Someone who wishes they had the luxury of "extra money" to buy presents for Christmas. That's who. So while I am not thankful FOR the line, I can be thankful IN the line. Give thanks IN all circumstances!

One last situation - this year my husband forgot our 16th wedding anniversary. True story. You would think he would remember by now! While it wasn't a stressful situation, it was definitely a disappointment. Was I thankful FOR his forgetfulness? Of course not. Who would be thankful IN this situation? Oh, I don't know. Maybe someone who has lost their significant other? Someone who would give just one more day, one more moment to be with their spouse? Someone whose husband was deployed and wouldn't be home until who knows when? Yeah. Hello? Reminder to self! That was me not so long ago. How quickly I forgot and took my husband and our time together for granted. Just be happy he is home and we are together. Humble yourself. Give thanks IN all circumstances! (Note: My daughter said that I still had the right to be mad. Thanks, kiddo! HA!)

Don't get me wrong. I still do my fair share of whining and complaining! However, finding daily blessings has made me appreciate the simple things in life that I often overlook or take for granted. I didn't learn to do this overnight. It took a lot of time for me to train my brain (and my heart) to learn to think this way. Give it a try! At least once! Look for the daily blessings. Find blessing in the chaos. Dig deep if you have to! Think of who would want to trade places with you. Just remember, you don't have to be thankful FOR the circumstance, but be thankful IN it.

A Hui Hou.....

PS. I just got off the phone with my BFF. I told her there was a beautiful I'o (Hawaiian Hawk) that has been coming into our yard. She asked if it brought us any more decapitated rats. Ewwww. But it got me thinking. How can I be thankful in this situation? Well, for one, I have the awesome experience of seeing this beautiful bird. Secondly, while I am not a fan of finding a decapitated rat near my porch steps, at least it means there is one less live rat running around! (And a husband that would dispose of the carcass!)


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