This week, most of us will sit in thankfulness. We will look around our dining room tables and give thanks to God for *most* of the people sitting around them. Some of us may even participate in #30daysofthankfulness posts on social media, or take turns expressing gratitude in conversations over turkey for the many blessings we experienced this year. It's easy to guess what will be on the tip of most people's tongues...family, health, friends, love, wealth, food. True to my own form though, I have to admit that I just want to shake things up a little. The truth that rings deep in my heart in my current season is that to be truly grateful and humbled at the masterpiece God made in me, I have to be thankful for all the crappy stuff I've endured too. You know - the stuff that hasn't had a pretty little bow on it. The stuff that no one really wants to talk about, but that equally is a blessing in the journey to discovering who I am in Christ.
Recently, I've been deep in the battles of a sadness and uncertainty I just can't shake. I've dabbled in calling it depression, but I'm afraid of labels. 🙈 When my second child was born five years ago, I struggled with PPD and no one knew but my husband. It was a silent battle that left me hating myself and struggling to recover. I'm now almost a year and a half out from my third child being born, and this feels eerily similar without any "good reason" this time. At first, I was extremely frustrated to find myself weak and fragile AGAIN in life. When you are a Christian, a lot of times you have "your story" and that's your platform. You're delivered from it and it's a past tense sort of gratitude that you get to praise the Lord for from a pleasant distance. I knew my "story" and my saving moment with God. I was the teenage mom, who came to know Jesus, and my life is now peachy and blissful (*praise hands*). And while some of that blissful happiness is true - I have a wonderful husband and family and a beautiful home and all the things that make one happy - I still can't shake the sadness. Here I am finding myself again at the feet of Jesus, wondering WHAT NOW?! Why is the struggle SO real? If I'm completely honest, I'm annoyed that I can't just be on the victorious side of my story. What I thought to be my defining moment in my faith walk during my teenage years, is turning out to be just a chapter in the story God has for me.
As I find myself lonely (even when surrounded by people!) and sad most days, I experience this strange peace lately with the pain. I've gotten to a place of trusting the journey, trusting the Artist. I'm enduring this weird and defining season, where I can't find my identity in my three children, where my happiness isn't sustained on my husband alone, and the circumstances around me (albeit great) aren't curating the joy I long for. As God refines me with the flames of mood swings and enough tears to drown in daily, I have to stop amidst the crappy situation and give thanks.
This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the tender heart I have that has simultaneously felt compassion and burdened lately. I'm thankful for feeling so deeply without shaming myself or labeling myself as melodramatic. I thank God for me feeling so overwhelmed that I shout and threaten my family, visibly losing my sanity, so they can see that I just can't do it all. I'm grateful for days when I crawl into bed and "ugly cry," and my husband has to pick up the slack because I'm forced to implement boundaries, so God can show me that I know myself well enough to take a break. This season ain't pretty, but it's purposeful as long as I remain thankful for it and trust God, knowing it is a brush stroke within the masterpiece He is creating within me...one season at a time.