When we tell our stories in an authentic and vulnerable way, they become journals with Velcro markers to which others can connect. From our shared stories come affirmations and covenants and dreams. Perhaps best of all, our stories are the one place in our lives that we do not have to compete and we always get an A!
~ Known…Finding Deep Friendships in a Shallow World by Dick and Ruth Foth
Sue Reeve’s Note: Today’s post concludes a series written by my friend Bethany (a pseudonym) in which she describes her journey of healing. (Note: To read the original stories, go to www.suereeve.com, and check archived posts, April 11-April 28, 2016, “The Little Girl Inside Our Story.”) Today, Bethany shows the power of choosing to find thankfulness.
I have shared some of the things that hurt me in my life, but there is also so much good that has come from those hurts. They have been big factors in shaping me into who I am. God promises to make beauty from ashes, and I know that’s possible because I have seen him do it in my life.
I am a stronger, more resilient person because of pain. I have learned to have a sense of humor even through hard times. My mom hurt me in many ways, but she also taught me so many good things. I am a better mother and wife, cook, housekeeper, and organizer because of things my mother taught me to do well when I was growing up.
I had to drop out of school at age 14 to work for my dad at his sawmill. I never had the chance to go back to school and have always struggled with feeling uneducated and ignorant. But, those years working for my dad were some of the happiest of my whole life. We listened to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash or the Bellamy Brothers every morning on the way to work. He bought us gas station donuts and hot chocolate. The smell of sawdust is still my very favorite scent because it reminds me of those days.
It wasn’t fun being the only one of my friends forced to drop out of school and go to work full time, but despite the disappointment, there were good things about the experience. My dad instilled in me a love for hard work. I learned to value the feeling of accomplishment when you do something well. As a result, I have always had a great work ethic.
Gradually, my mind set is changing, and I’m starting to be thankful for things I used to resent. I started to keep a thankfulness journal a couple years ago. Even though I’m not faithful to write in it every day, or, if I’m honest, even every week or month, I try to write things down when I think of them. They add up slowly, and it’s fun to go back and read over them.
Research has taught us that humans have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day, and around 80% of those thoughts are negative. I’ve come to realize being a negative person is exhausting. It’s even exhausting spending time with someone who is negative! Look for the good things.
I read a story one time about a girl who woke up and only had three hairs left on her head. She said to herself “Today, I am going to braid my hair!” So, she did, and she had a great day.
The next day, she woke and only had two hairs on her head. She said to herself, “Today, I think I will part my hair in the middle!” So, she did, and she had another great day!
The next morning there was only one hair left. She said, “Today, I’m going to wear my hair in a ponytail.” So, she did, and her day was great again.
The next morning, the girl woke up, and she had no hair at all. She said, “Awesome! Today, I don’t have to do my hair!”
I want that kind of mindset! Having the positive outlook of this girl requires being intentional. Continuing to persevere, even when it feels like you’re not making progress, teaches resilience.
If you’re doing what you know to do, no matter how small, and if you keep asking God to help you, I believe he will. You will make progress. When you feel stuck, make a list of the ways you have grown. Express thanksgiving for things that have changed for the better.
You may even be doing better than you think you are!
As I conclude my story today, I want each of you who have taken time to read about my journey know I am thankful for you!
I pray God will help you see the good parts of your story…