Some of the hardest lessons we learn in life come from how we respond to tragedies and disasters. We can feel overwhelmed, we may collapse into grief, or we may rail at heaven for allowing us to suffer this way. Each response is legitimate while the pain is still raw. But at some point we have to move forward. And one of the best ways to hold on and regain our strength is by regaining our sense of gratitude.
Now it may feel impossible to be grateful when life seems to be falling apart. But in some deep part of our consciousness, we know that it is what we need. We learned to walk by standing up and falling over, we learned how to play through skinned knees and maybe a black eye or two. We learned how to love even as our hearts were broken.
At every tough point in our lives, we have had the chance to give up, or pick ourselves up and start again. Gratitude comes when we recognize that picking ourselves up makes us stronger than if we had never fallen down in the first place.
St. Paul wrote “In all things give thanks.” We don’t have to try and give thanks FOR all things. That may just beyond us. But we can give thanks IN all things, in spite of, within, and during all things.
What are some things we can be thankful for? If nothing else, there is the opportunity to be grateful that the crisis is over. The aftermath may be devastating, but at least we have made it to the point when we can begin to rebuild.
It can help to take a good look around and give thanks for every good thing we see: our loved ones and friends, our community, people who reach out to us. Then there is the simple fact that life goes on, and that every day we can gain more strength to move forward.
It is an old cliché that “it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” We could say that about so many things in life. It is better to have tried and failed, it is better to have felt pain than felt nothing at all. If we can find gratitude for all those things we tried, and be happy about the experience, then we can use some of that gratitude to help us through the toughest times.
It’s okay to put gratitude on hold, just not for too long. When things are just too hard, you may be unable to see beyond the pain you are feeling. But you can still hang on to the idea that you will make it through, knowing that each day you will be stronger, and more grateful than you were the day before. Someday, looking back, it still may never be a happy time. But you will have come through it, and that will be a day to truly be thankful for.
Has gratitude helped you become stronger? Use the comments below to tell us about it. We’d enjoy hearing from you.