Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Feeling Ungrateful on Thanksgiving

What? Not the title you were expecting from me today? Does it sound like something that should be posted on My Stormy Outlook? Well...a post on Facebook this morning prompted me to delete my intended happy, grateful, joyful Celebrate Thanksgiving post for this one.

As I sit here on the eve of Thanksgiving...I am overcome with thankfulness for the blessings God has bestowed not only on me, but many of my loved ones as well. I am ashamed to admit, however, there have been a few Thanksgivings when I couldn't feel that and I certainly couldn't say it. My life truly wasn't that bad, but it wasn't the way I wanted it at the time...and when Thanksgiving came along...even though my head knew there was plenty to be thankful for...my heart stubbornly refused to feel such things.

Trust me when I say, I am fully aware how hard it can be to be away from loved ones during the holidays. Because our little family lived far from our extended family for over twenty years, there were many many years that Thanksgiving was just Hubby, our Scientist, our Engineer, and me. Sure it was hard calling back home and hearing all of the family laughing and having a special time together. And even though I was forever grateful for my family, I was still sad we were apart. There were times I allowed sadness to rob me of the joy of at least being with Hubby and our boys.

Probably the hardest Thanksgiving was the one when Hubby was away on business and it was just the boys and me. Thankfully that year, Miss Sally lived nearby, and she asked us to join some of her family for a feast. And I was really grateful we didn't have to be alone the entire day. I doubt I would have fixed a big Thanksgiving meal for two little elementary aged boys and me.

While I was thankful for the invitation, my heart still hurt. I missed Hubby. The boys missed Daddy. I remember one of our boys turned on the football game on the TV, because Hubby always watches football on Thanksgiving. No one actually watched it that Thanksgiving, but it made us all feel a little better to have it playing. That memory is well over 10 years ago...and yet I remember vividly the pain in my heart as I went to bed that night.

Just like most families...we too have people missing from the table each Thanksgiving. Those loved ones have gone on to heaven and we are left with mournful broken hearts. It's not the same. It never again will be the same. The gloom can overtake us and ruin the time we have with those still with us.

I know first hand the raw emotional ache holidays such as Thanksgiving can bring for those who feel lonely...forgotten...and struggling to get through it. And I think Thanksgiving is particularly difficult because you are supposed to be feeling grateful....and grateful is last thing you want to feel at that moment. Then of course, that can lead to feelings of guilt for feeling ungrateful on Thanksgiving..which adds to the heartache...until all you really feel is numbness.

I truly do know. I have been there. It's not fun. It's not festive. It's not jolly or happy.

What I can say though is...the bad days don't last forever. They really don't. It might take some time. It might take much longer than you wish it would...but there is hope. You may not be ready today to grab onto that hope. And it's okay. I understand. Maybe you just need to get past Thanksgiving. Yeah, I said it. I know...I know...I heard the gasps too. But maybe for those hurting this Thanksgiving it's not about being full of thanks tomorrow.

If you are just not there right now...or you know someone who isn't...I'm suggesting you don't worry about the numbness. Don't let "ungratefulness guilt" bog you down even further. Just hang on through the next few days, and if you can....if you are up to it....pray. Ask God to get you through today. Then when He gets you through that...ask Him to get you through tomorrow. Just take it one day at a time, doing the best you can in the moment. If you truly can't pray...then rest in this promise from Romans:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.   ~Romans 8:26

If you are too weak to even pray this Thanksgiving...the Holy Spirit has you covered. And don't be afraid to ask others to pray for you as well. Email me and ask me. I will pray for you. I would love to do that for anyone struggling this Thanksgiving.

Hubby's job requires him to be away sometimes. Over the years, we have had to celebrate every single holiday apart at least once. We have done it several times with some of them - including birthdays and our anniversary. It's super difficult. Some I have handled better than others...there was that Christmas I put on 12 "sadness pounds". Ugh.

What I have learned in dealing with heartache during the holidays is that God is always faithful and truly we really are not alone when we allow Him to comfort and guide us through our sadness. Friends or family may be willing to be there for you...they just aren't always sure what to do. Sometimes people do not reach out to those hurting, because they don't want to make it worse.

If you are in need this Thanksgiving, you may need to be the one to reach out to others. Let them console you. If you feel like none of your friends understand or are there for you...it just might be because they have no idea what you need. Give them a chance.

I have also learned that times will get better. Even if this Thanksgiving is one you just want to get past...the next one is a whole year away and your life can change dramatically in a year. Have hope, next Thanksgiving may be one of the best you have ever had and your heart could be filled with thankfulness again.

But what if it's another difficult one? Well...you will be able to look back on this one and know you survived it, and you can again. I remember feeling that way on several occasions through the years. It actually helped.

This year, I am super excited that Thanksgiving week is here and I do feel like I have been Celebrating Thanksgiving all month long. Thanksgiving Break begins today for both of our college boys and I am more thankful than mere words can express that I will be getting to enjoy our Scientist and our Engineer at home for a few days.

I am grateful we will be celebrating Thursday with a feast at Mom and Dad's farm along with all of my siblings and their families. We don't get to do that every year. We all know that each time we are all together as a family, it is special. I plan to cherish it.

There have been Thanksgivings I have struggled with sadness and just wanted to get through them. I get it, I really do. If you know someone who is feeling this way this year...show some kindness and compassion, even if you honestly don't understand. If this is where you are right now...hang on...don't lose hope that the days ahead will get better and you will once again be filled with gratefulness.

Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to you. Thank you for reading. I am grateful.

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