Friday, October 9, 2020

Giving Thanks When It's Hard

Can you imagine being unemployed for 25 months? Can you imagine giving thanks for that period in your life?

No way, you're thinking. I could never give thanks for unemployment. Never.

I used to think that too. But I don't think it anymore.

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In December, 2003, my husband, Gary, was six months in to what would turn out to be 25 months of unemployment. While he was able to obtain a part-time custodial job and also some part-time construction work to bring in a small income, he didn't land an "in his career field" job until July, 2005.

It was a very bleak time for our family, as we lived off our home equity and the meager income from those two part-time jobs. We were in this position because of me---because I had been so discontent that I had begged Gary to move from Idaho back across the country to Georgia. He had left a well-paying (though stressful) job to make that move, and when things didn't work out there and he couldn't find employment, we moved back to Idaho

We arrived back in Idaho in October, 2003, and job doors remained closed until July 2005; it was in that very difficult time that God put on my heart to begin giving him daily thanks for the blessings in my life.

It was Psalm 50 which spoke to my heart one morning in December of 2003 (v 23a  "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.")  As surely as I know my own name, I knew God was instructing me to start a gratitude journal. And not just a gratitude journal, but a daily gratitude journal, recording five things each day.






Really, God? You want me to give thanks? Every day? For five things? How can I do that when we are in such difficult circumstances?

"Yes, my child," came the answer, "five things every day. Even now...especially now."

Digging out an old journal that had been lying around unused for years and opening up to the first blank page, I sat for what seemed like hours. What could I possibly thank God for in the midst of those bleak, uncertain times? An eternity later, I scribbled down...
1. Thank you for the ability to see 2. Thank you for the ability to hear 3. Thank you for the ability to breathe 4. Thank you for the ability to talk 5. Thank you for the ability to walk

The next day was equally tough, but I finally managed...
6. Thank you for good health 7. Thank you for a loving husband 8. Thank you for my beautiful daughter 9. Thank you for my fun-loving son 10. Thank you for our sweet beagle, Nikki

On and on it went like this until, finally, # 105---Thank you, God, for providing for us in this difficult time.
and then #185---Thank you for a job interview for Gary. We put it in your hands and ask for you to open the door.

#404---Thank you, God, for keeping that employment door closed. We know you have something else in mind and that you will reveal it at the right time.

Okay, so here I was giving thanks in all circumstances. But could I thank God for those circumstances. In a few more weeks, I would find out.

#796---Thank you for this time of unemployment, Lord. Being in this position has enabled us to see your hand of provision in ways we never have before.

Wow, I was finally not only giving thanks in my circumstances, but I was giving thanks for them. The act of giving thanks had changed me...had given me a new perspective.
Over and over, for many more months, I would find myself giving thanks for a job interview, then giving thanks once more when that employment door didn't open. Truly, the discipline of giving thanks carried me through those days. It enabled me to look around and see all the good things in my life, instead of the things I didn't have. Even more, it helped me to trust God with our future.

And you know what...God's timing was perfect. Eventually, he provided Gary with the job that led him to the company he works for today. And Gary says that where he is now is the best job he has ever had, with the best boss he's ever had. So, had doors opened earlier, he wouldn't be where he is today.

I encourage you, my friends, to start your own gratitude journal. Doing so will bless your socks off. It probably won't change your circumstances, but it will change you and how you look at those circumstances.  

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19 comments:

  1. This is such a wonderful testimony, Patti! Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Great advice, especially during this 2020 we are all going through!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Terri. Yes, in this crazy 2020, we must definitely look for the good that is out there!

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  2. Great advice. Thank you for sharing your personal example.

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  3. Patti, this is so true, I have likewise learned to give thanks in the hard places of life! For the last 10 years my husband has been unemployed more than he has been employed, so I know how that feels. But you know, it doesn't matter the hardship, gratitude is not the first thing we think of! Yet when we do learn to be grateful in the hard places, I feel like God's blessings are even sweeter. Thank you for sharing this part of your life!

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Donna, and for taking the time to leave me a comment. You're right, no matter the hardship, gratitude is not the first thing we think of when in the midst of it. And because it would be easier to focus on the negativity, I think our gratitude is even sweeter to God. He sees it as a sacrifice.

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  4. How true. I have learned that again this year. I see so many things that God has done that I am thankful for even in the midst of cancer, COVID, and chemo. God is good and we need to be thankful.

    Growing up there was a period of time when my dad didn't have a job and did handyman jobs. I didn't realize how little we had until years later in a random conversation about why my hair was long in a photo and my mom said we didn't have money for that. It impressed on me how much attitudes and how you feel things can help others.

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    1. Beth, thank you for visiting and for sharing about that time in your life when your parents didn't have money for a haircut. Obviously, they lived a life of gratitude and contentment, because if they hadn't, you would have felt the lack of money.

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  5. Patti!!!
    Hey girlfriend. It was so good to hear from you! Glad to see you're back at it again. I don't blog as often but still try to put things out there every now and again. :-)
    Loved this post. Such truth.
    HUGS!
    Kim

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    1. Miss you, my longtime blog friend! Thanks so much for stopping by. Blogging isn't what it was back in the Homestead Blogger days, but I still can't stay away from it for long.

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  6. Gratitude is amazing. I started years ago incorporating it into my daily prayers. Although, I don’t always write it down. Thank you for sharing with Grace & Truth Link-Up. In November every year I do 30 Days of gratitude with my followers. It is fun. I hope you will join us. More information next week. Thank you for sharing with Grace & Truth Link-Up.

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    1. Maree Dee, I look forward to learning more about your 30 days of gratitude. I definitely want to be part of it.

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  7. I appreciate how vulnerable you get on your blog, Patti. It helps us all relate to you and realize that we're in the same boat. I've had highs and lows in 2020, so I need to dust off my gratitude journal and get started again. Thanks for the encouragement.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Lisa. I'm about to be getting even more vulnerable on my blog. God has really been putting on my heart to focus on writing about my years of infertility. Lots of ugliness in me, but God's grace and goodness are greater!!

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  8. This is a beautiful testimony. I love seeing how you grew during this time. Thank you for sharing your journey with us

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Thank you so much for stopping by and for taking the time to leave me a comment. Your visit beautifies my day!