Real Life Mama: In everything, give thanks

“In everything give thanks,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Tis the season, right? Thanksgiving – a time to give thanks for all the amazing parts of our lives. Which, for me — and most of us, is super easy. I can name many things right off the bat that I am so very thankful for – my kiddos, my parents, my sisters – my extended family, Lee, my house, my job – you know, all the good things!

But as I was listening to my morning Bible meditation this week, which happened to be about the above Bible verse, I was reminded that it is not just the good stuff that I need to be thankful for, but in EVERYTHING, give thanks. And that got me thinking while also proving to be a bit more difficult task. However, this year has been about facing all the difficult things head on – and not avoiding them. So, I made my list.

I am thankful for the weight I have gained this year. Ugh. Even writing that out was hard to do. Twenty-five pounds I have put on in 10 months. But I am thankful for every single ounce of it – every pint of ice cream, pumpkin turned Christmas tree Reese’s cup and every sweet treat in between because I know that these things have kept my hands from reaching for a drink. And I am thankful that I have a new goal to set for next year as I embrace putting healthy food back into my body.

I am thankful for my anxiety – for every crippling moment that I have had to breathe through a worst-case scenario that my mind came up with or talk myself down from a situation I was certain I couldn’t overcome. Sounds silly, huh? To be thankful for that. But what it truly has given me is empathy and tools that I can pass along to my babies when they are feeling overwhelmed when anxiety creeps in. Without the understanding and years of knowledge of dealing with it myself, I don’t think I would have the ability, patience or grace to handle it with my girls.

I am thankful for my bills – the same amounts that creep up everything month, the times where I feel like a paycheck comes in and then a paycheck goes out, the tons of money spent weekly on groceries only to feel like we are always needing more. But the truth is, we don’t. We always have enough – and while my bank account may never be full, it also is never completely empty.

I am thankful for my challenge with alcohol – for every time I wanted to just go have a drink, and I just didn’t do it this year. And while it has been that – a challenge – without this journey, I don’t think I would have ever known just how truly strong I am.

I am thankful for the times that I have yelled at my kids – especially those heat-of-the-moment reactions where I just lose it for a second. Because of those times, I have been able to take a step back when I have been in the wrong and show my girls that it is okay to make mistakes and ask forgiveness. My girls get to witness firsthand that no one is perfect – especially not their Mama – and learn that owning mistakes and saying sorry is powerful.

I am thankful for the fights that Lee and I have had – yes, I know, I talk about these way less than I do the good times we have. But because of our disagreements, we have learned healthy communication and understanding. Things will never be perfect in any relationship and knowing how to work together toward a resolution will remain the foundation of our strong relationship.

I am thankful for the people that I have had in my life and lost – the relationships and pain – and all the lessons and love that they brought. I am thankful for sweet memories, guilt, laughs and regrets and the ability to weave all of it into part of what made me who I am today.

And I am thankful for interruptions while I am trying to write, empty PopTart boxes left in the pantry, three girls talking at once trying to get my attention and my brain going into overload. I am thankful for continuous dirty dishes in my sink and floors that always need swept. All of these things remind me that I have a house full of family and love.

So often, I have complained about all of the above things and yet still managed to give thanks for all the good. What an eye-opening experience it has been to give thanks for the things that don’t always bring me joy – for EVERYTHING. And how amazing it was to find good even in those things.

As Thanksgiving comes and goes this week, I pray that you can also find and give thanks in everything. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.