Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Healing Gratitude

Wow, has it been nearly a year? Time flies, when "things" happen.

My husband & I have been dealing with some very trying times with an aging parent and financial woes. Some days we've been able to laugh, (NO! You can't put your shoes in the microwave!!!) but most days we just feel drained by the sheer energy being pulled from us into a black hole of one-way need.

Gratitude and joy have taken a backseat to frustration and griping. The bedroom has become a place for conference-calls with the in-laws to deal with the latest problem, rather than the peaceful retreat we'd meant it to be. Our children hear things NO child should hear about ANY adult - let alone a grandparent.

Everywhere we look, people & helpful articles tell us that when things get tough, we should look back on fond memories of times past. But what if there TRULY are none? What if a parent truly NEVER showed affection, and there are no late-night snuggles or just-because trips to the park to reminisce about... and now circumstances force you to be the "parent?" And what if rather than gratitude, all you were shown for your efforts, was anger?

To say that resentment has been high, is an understatement. To say that we've dealt with our issues with grace and understanding... would be a lie.

Last November, as I have for the past several years, I began posting daily things that I was thankful for. Often they were simple things like warm fuzzy socks for cold feet, but the simple act of forcing myself to post ONE tiny thing I was thankful for in the midst of our emotional distress acted as a balm to my frazzled soul. When November ended, my thankful posts continued. Not every day, but on the most frustrating of days I've been forcing myself to find "just one thing" worthy of thankfulness. It's not a cure, but it's a terribly soothing band-aid.

This past week, as we were going through a weekly marriage-enhancer, the theme was gratitude. How truly ironic, to fall on a week of frustrating silence from the medical community, to be forced to stare thankfulness in the face. We read our assigned reading, sat back in each others arms, and just sighed.

What is there to be grateful for today?

The "assignment" for the week, was to begin a gratitude journal. A single place for us both to regularly write down things we are grateful for. I felt somewhat ambivalent about the project as I had already been doing something similar, but my husband was instantly on board.

"Let's get a special journal for this, and keep it somewhere we'll see it often - like the living room table!"

This, from a man who writes as little as possible. So I hunted up the prettiest journal I could find; one with gilt page edges, and a ribbon-marker. My thought was that perhaps it would be a nice place for me to quietly record my feelings, and perhaps someday he would open it & those feelings would brighten his day.

The book came in yesterday, and by the end of the night it had it's first entry. NOT in my tiny, elementary-teacher print, but in a loose, scrawling wobble my husband poured out his gratitude, half-filling the first page.

I've known for awhile that gratitude can have a healing effect. And I've heard several times that others have been blessed by my own thankful-posts, so I knew that the healing could be contagious. Little did I know, how truly awesome that blessing can feel... until it was visited back upon me.

I love my husband and I love that we know each other, sometimes better than we know ourselves. But it's the knowledge that he can still surprise me, that sets the butterflies fluttering after more than 22 years.

THAT is what I am grateful for, this morning.

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