As I tucked my girls into bed, I had a smile on my face. I was more aware of this smile because, as I have shared with you in the past, bedtime can be stressful for me. So when I noticed the smile on my face, I was super excited! I also knew the reason it was there. This smile was there because of an amazing discovery I made in a recent counseling session.
As I thought about how life-changing that particular session was, I thought about where I would be today if I hadn't made my own wellness a priority…if I hadn't gone to therapy. As I thought about this, I realized that without a major crisis in my life, I might have never gone.
That thought hit me like a ton of bricks.
Therapy has been a key factor in my working through and processing the pain in my life. Without it, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't be the mom I am today. I wouldn't be the friend I am today. I wouldn't be the me I am today.
But this blog isn't about therapy. And although I LOVE my therapy sessions, this blog is about what got me to go.
The Gift I will Never Say “Thank You” For.
A few months ago I spent a week doing an intensive counseling program where I walked through over 50 hours of therapy in 5 days. It was an intense week! During one particular session I was meeting with the owner of the counseling center. He was challenging me to consider how I had grown as a result of my own story. As I thought about his question, I realized that there were some amazing ways God had grown me and changed me as the result of some difficult challenges in my life. When I shared these with him, he said, “These are the gifts you don't say ‘thank you' for.”
I had never heard that idea before, and it stuck with me. He wasn't referring to these as gifts we don't say “thank you” to God for…but instead gifts we don't say “thank you” to the humans who gave them to us. Viewing these trials as “gifts” is a mental shift that allows you to move from a victim posture to an openness to learn from these challenges.
Here are three truths I've discovered in my own life in regards to this new theory.
1. Just like you, I have chapters I wished I wouldn't have had to walk through.
We all have chapters that, when they are happening, we can't believe are happening to US! The chapters we wish we could have avoided. The chapters that we didn't know if we would survive. We ALL have these chapters. Right this minute you are probably in one of three places in your life:
- walking through one of these chapters right now,
- you just got out of a difficult chapter,
- or you are about to enter one.
These chapters come and go in our lives. As difficult as these chapters are, they also provide us with some amazing opportunities! Why? Keep reading!
2. ThEse chapters or “gifts” transform our lives more than almost anything else in life.
As you walk through your own “gift” you have the opportunity to be transformed. These chapters are defining moments in your life, not because of the pain, but because of the growth that happens. Often you will experience growing pains in these difficult chapters, but God can use these chapters to refine you into the woman He created you to be. He can use these chapters to chip away at your flesh and transform you more into the image of Jesus!
I remember where I was sitting when I was challenged to let my most difficult chapter shape me more into the image of Christ. I remember wanting to throw my book across the room as the author encouraged me to look at this chapter as an opportunity to grow deeper in my relationship with God, to be transformed more into His image, and to live out my purpose with deeper meaning and more passion. As much as I hated the pain I was in and the idea of letting it change me for the better, a part of my heart found hope in the idea that there could be a bigger purpose to my pain. And on that summer night three years ago, I accepted the challenge not to waste this gift. There have been many moments since then when the pain has been so deep, I didn't know if I would survive. But in those deepest moments, I continued to pray, “God don't waste this.” Over the past three years I have seen God refine me and transform me more than any other time in my life. The same opportunity is available for you.
3. The gifts from walking through thEse chapters are priceless, but I'll never say “thank you” for them.
As I look back and examine how God has transformed us through these chapters, I celebrate what God has done. I am excited about the patience I have developed, or the compassion I now display. I love to see the doors God has opened as a result of some the most difficult moments in my life. I love celebrating the wins no matter how big or how small. Wins like being able to find joy in tucking my girls in at night rather than it stressing me out. Wins like finding out just how strong I was. Or wins like the freedom I found when I discovered the truth that no man had to choose me for me to be chosen! I don't know that I would have ever had any of these gifts without the difficult chapters.
But no matter how amazing the gift, the pain of the trials I faced cut so deep I will never say “thank you” to the person who caused the pain.
God is amazing. He can take a shattered heart, pick up the pieces, and create a beautiful mosaic. He is more than able to make something beautiful out of the pieces of your heart. He is the business of transforming lives. He longs to use the parts of your story that you are most ashamed of to glorify Himself.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I am asking you to reconsider the unexpected chapters in your life. Is there a part of your story that is overwhelming you? Is it time take a new look at that chapter? Are you ready to move from victim to overcomer?
If you are struggling with finding the purpose in your pain, I personally invite you to join us in the Loving? My Life study. This is a four-week online study that will move you from surviving your story to overcoming it in Jesus Christ! You can register and learn more here: Loving? My Life
I would love to hear from you! I would love to hear one gift that God has given to you as a result of a difficult season in life?