Gratitude in the Midst of Suffering

Image courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In my part of the world, it is Thanksgiving Day. A day when we stop and celebrate the good things that God has done. For some it means nothing more than gorging on food and planning their black Friday or even Thursday shopping. For the record, I’m not in that camp. I hate shopping in crowds. Used to work retail over the holidays and hated it. The pressure put on those employees to move fast and efficiently all while being nice to crabby people. Well, let’s just say the speed thing wasn’t my forte. That was well over  32 years ago not and I’m beyond glad to be out of it. Bless all of you who have to work today to support your families, because taking off could mean losing your job. Oh, and then there’s football. Or hunting. The day has so lost it’s original sacred meaning.

I digress though. Holidays can be emotional minefields for those in a difficult marriage. The combination of expectations with a relationship already broken and extended time in each other’s presence, can be stressful.

So how do you manage this? I’m preparing my heart as I write this. Here are my own feeble tips.

  1. If you are invited to someplace doesn’t mean you have to say ‘yes’ and go. You don’t even have to give an excuse. You do have a right to decide where and when and how you celebrate. It is a choice.
  2. Family is important so I get that sometimes we make that difficult choice to go. You are not obligated to share anything you don’t want to with anyone. It’s your right to say, “Thank you for asking, but that’s personal and I really would rather not talk about it.” In our culture we have become so invasive in the lives of others and privacy and boundaries of decency are crossed to often because we don’t feel we have the right to keep our thoughts and opinions to ourselves. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to.
  3. With those who are difficult, I refer you to this post I wrote a while back: Pigs and Pearls.
  4. If things are tense and you are able to, set a time limit or drive separately so you can leave if you feel the need to. I used to have asthma attacks due to the stress and my husband would ignore my distress or need to leave. With my own vehicle I have the freedom to do what his healthy for me. I know not everyone has that option.
  5. If you can spend time journalling your feelings and make a list of at least five things you are grateful for, it can help. How has God revealed Himself to you in your suffering? How has He grown you? What have you learned that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise? Sometimes reflecting on these blessings can give us back the sacredness that is too often lost in the stress.

Praying for you, that as you labor and toil to preserve your marriage that you can see those blessings and be grateful for them. God sees your pain and He knows your heart and He adores you beyond your wildest imagination.

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