The Healing Journey Part Four: A Gratitude List
I love birthdays. Not just my birthday (although I admit it’s one of my favorites) but everyone’s birthday. I love the idea of celebrating someone on their special day. Like any holiday, it comes with a touch of sadness for me because my parents should be celebrating with me and they aren’t. I spoke on Tuesday at a Women’s Church Supper event and one lady asked me if I had any relationship with my parents today. I don’t, and that’s ok. Well, it’s not ok, but I’ve learned to live with it. You see, after I left home, a part of me really and truly expected that my father would ask for forgiveness for years of abuse and I expected my mother to support my decision to leave such a toxic environment. I thought they would want me to be happy and clearly staying in an abusive situation where my father sexually abused me was not healthy for me. A small part of me actually believed they would come around.
But, they didn’t. Fifteen years ago today I talked to my father for the last time. He called, I guess because it was my birthday, but to my complete shock, he told me I was going to suffer eternal damnation for leaving home and that I needed to return to him. I just hung up the phone, to devastated and crying too hard to talk any more.
Right then I faced a decision point. I could carry the bitterness and pain with me for the rest of my life, souring everything else from that day on. Or, I could let it go. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. The other person might not even know or care if you forgive them but the difference it makes in your life is everything. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting but it does mean letting go of the blame and the bitterness. Holding on to those negative feelings will only hurt yourself.
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
So, I made a commitment to always have an attitude of gratitude and here is part of my gratitude list today. It’s not in any particular order because I couldn’t begin to rank one higher than the other, and it’s also not comprehensive.
I’m grateful for:
- God’s gift of Grace. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.” Enough said.
- The most wonderful husband in the world – I woke up this morning to the perfect birthday gift – words of affirmation from the person who sees me through everything, good and bad. Mack is the strength in my world and my rock and I wish everyone had the relationship with their spouse that we enjoy. Perfection isn’t about being perfect, it’s about getting better together, every day.
- Good times and memories made – This past weekend started with a dinner with my grandparents. My grandmother made a home cooked dinner and we enjoyed a meal together, with great conversation, sharing laughter and love. The next day was spent making memories with my good friend Autumn and an adventure race together, followed by cake and ice cream with my other grandparents, and my special aunt Diana. And, what a terrific feeling when your loved ones sing “Happy birthday to you!” I’ll get to enjoy a birthday lunch with a very special lady today – I’m quite certain that I have the best mother-in-law in the world! I don’t just get a birth day but a birth month filled with good times.
- Family – Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, on my side and also on my spouse’s side. They are all a blessing to me and most of all is the fact that my brother is back in my life. He and his sweet wife are precious to me. God didn’t give me a sister but I have TWO special, sweet, sister-in-laws!
- Friends – I’m so blessed to have a life with so many good people in it! I saw some of my friends from my old gym back in Auburn this week and it was so good to catch up. I do miss them, but I also realize I’m blessed to have found so many new friends! Too many to list here – You all know who you are! God puts people in our life – sometimes they lift us up and sometimes we lift them up. Look around today and see who you can lift up with a word, or a kind act or a smile.
- Opportunity to serve someone else – I treat each day like a stewardship. God has trusted me with time, talent, energy, and a purpose and opportunity to do something positive with those gifts. I try to use them wisely.
- The gift of health – I have been blessed with good health and although I realize (some mornings more than others) the body does begin to fail with age, I also realize that I’ve been fortunate to enjoy an active life with great health. As I train for marathon #4 in a few weeks, I’m incredibly grateful for the health to do so. I know i sometimes have taken for granted the ability to do little things like run up the stairs and the big things like run 26.2 miles.
Where should I stop? I could go on an on and on….but instead, let me hear from you – what are you grateful for today?