How to Be Thankful When You Aren’t Thankful
It was supposed to be a fun weekend with family. It was supposed to be a time where we could just relax and spend time together. But it didn’t end up that way. Back in 2014, our son Abram was born and just five weeks later we found ourselves in an all out panic. My sister was traveling into town from Virginia to see us and while we all knew she really just wanted to see her cute new nephew, we were totally fine with that. That Friday we noticed that Abram didn’t seem like himself. He was fussier than usual. As the day went on he began to develop a fever. Around the time my sister was to arrive, his fever had gotten up to 100.2 degrees. For a newborn, that was serious. As soon as my sister arrived we aggressively packed some things and left our oldest son with her. With fear and anxiety, we rushed Abram to the ER.
I remember dropping Jerrica and Abram off at the doors to the ER and then searching for a parking spot. By the time I made it into the hospital they had already taken them back. I knew at that moment that this was serious.
From there a nurse escorted me down several hallways and into a busy fluorescent lit room. As I entered, I noticed my wife was standing back in shock as a sea of doctors and nurses began to check and test Abram. There were so many of them around him that I couldn’t even see his little body.
As the tests began to come back, it was revealed that Abram had developed viral meningitis.
Jerrica and I both were broken and terrified by what we had heard in that moment.
Over the next several days, we sat back and looked upon our little baby boy connected to half a dozen wires and tubes. He looked so helpless and that’s exactly how we felt. It was hard to be thankful in that moment. It was hard to see past the tubes and find hope.
WHEN YOU AREN’T THANKFUL
I share that story because I imagine many of you have sat in that same hospital room helpless. You’ve sat in that bedroom after your husband left and you weren’t feeling much gratitude. You’re tired of seeing your friends get married while you have no one currently in your life. It’s hard to be thankful isn’t it? If you’re anything like me, it may be hard for you to have a grateful heart day in and day out especially when you’re going through trials. My challenge to us is to push through, remember the hope we have and seek a heart of thanksgiving, even when we don’t feel like it.
Find the Positive
I always have to remind myself that life is like two sides to a coin. The first side is the side I tend to spend the majority of my time in. It’s seeing things as negative. Seeing them as broken or lost. But every situation has another side. It has a positive side.
Abram lying in that hospital bed begged for me to embrace the dark side. To blame God. To become angry. But one of the fondest memories I have with Abram was in that hospital room. Throughout the day, Jerrica and I both would pick him up and hold him. While this was a real challenge with all the wires and tubes, I remember one particular time I did this and sat in a chair right beside his bed. As I held him, I felt the conviction to pray over him. My prayer then turned to song. I began singing the song, “Jesus loves me.” As I sat there holding him I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for the blessing that he is. I have this beautiful boy in my arms and God has blessed me with him even if it was only for five weeks.
I was able to see the other side of the coin. I was able to see that there is good even in a dark situation. You just have to look for it.
Lean on Others
A heart of thankfulness requires relational connection. It requires love and vulnerability.
The hardest part about that time in the hospital with Abram was seeing my wife so broken and overwhelmed. All she wanted was for her baby to get better, but she couldn’t make that happen. She had to trust and pray for God’s provision. In the meantime, it required her to lean on me and vice versa.
This can only happen if we let people in. We have to be willing to say, “I don’t know what to do,” while also being okay with their response being, “Me either.” Leaning on others doesn’t mean they can fix your problem or you theirs; it just means you have a whole new perspective and someone to help carry the load. Less weight allows for more thankfulness.
Can I let you in on a little secret? One of the biggest reasons I share stories is because I never want to forget what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown. I’m so thankful today because of the change that has happened in my life.
God blessed us and healed our little Abram. He is one of the greatest joys of our lives and you know what? I wouldn’t change what we went through because I see now how blessed I really am -- How grateful I am for a life I don’t deserve. I’m not sure I’d have that gratitude if we hadn’t have walked through that.
So let’s never forget what we’ve walked through. Let’s never forget that when things were hard there was good surrounding us too.
“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present...” - C.S. Lewis
In All Circumstances
Because the world is going to continue to have viral meningitis, divorce, loneliness, etc., we must work hard to seek a heart of gratefulness, a heart that pushes against the grain of negativity and hopelessness and a heart that seeks to love more knowing our lives are blessed. So be thankful. Be grateful. Know that your attitude and your influence matter. Change the world by being thankful in all circumstances.