I used to resent the fact that I was from a broken home.
Over the years I have become grateful for my blended family and the steps my parents took to find and model happiness.
My parents were not perfect, but they both possess the gift of gratitude. Regardless of the situations, we faced over the years, that attitude of appreciation made painful conditions smoother. They held an underlying appreciation for things like health and opportunity. Their thankfulness left a unique mark on the lives of their children, grandchildren, and no doubt many generations to come. It is out of their gratitude that they give back to others. They hope others can be blessed and feel gratitude too. Having this modeled for me has left me with a longing to give also.
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35
Gratitude makes the world a better place. When appreciation is not prominent, resentment tends to take over. Our energy radiates into the lives of those we touch. It can be that of gratefulness or resentment. I am thankful to have been brought up in a home where gratitude, kindness, honesty, manners, and punctuality are revered. I never knew how valuable the principles I was raised with were until I experienced people who have grown up in an entitled, competitive, thankless environment.
Despite realizing they could not stay married, my parents have created a unique family. It is far-reaching and inclusive. The love in our homes stems from the appreciation my parents developed for one another and for the children and grandchildren they both brought into the world. Their spirit of gratefulness, rather than bitterness, has paved a road of kindness and respect towards one another, their subsequent spouses and each member of our large blended family.
Gratitude transforms resentment towards a kitchen full of dirty dishes to thankfulness for a home, food, and others in your life.
Gratitude transforms sitting for hours in traffic, from a fatality to thanking God that it isn’t you and your family who will be planning a funeral in the next couple of days.
One of the critical components of my marriage is gratitude. All we need to do is recall where we have been and where we are now. Instantly, any degree of infringement disappears. Without the perspective of gratefulness, we are likely to feel the division from entitlement, when our partner acts in a way that might seem offensive or selfish.
On Sunday mornings, we arrive at our church and remember that the ability to have breath in our lungs and be in our right mind with another chance to stand in worship, is nothing short of a gift from God. It puts into perspective all of the other things with which we struggle.
Being a stepparent has been one of the most challenging calls in my life. Talk about not what I expected. I am a woman who has been loved and adored by my children’s friends all their lives. I am so accustomed to that kind of reception from younger people. Step-parenting is not the same as being the parent of my kid’s friends.
These early years of my new marriage are giving me an opportunity to be molded, albeit painful, into the woman God wants me to be.
As a teenage girl, I was no more thankful for my stepmom than any of Bryan’s kids are to have me in their life. I am blessed to have an incredibly loving, stepmom who gave and sacrificed for her husband’s kids in tremendous ways. All I saw was that she was changing things, including how much time I spent with my previously single dad. It was far healthier for my dad to be married, but that wasn’t top of mind when I was a young woman having to share a home with a woman who did things differently than what was familiar to me.
How foolish of me to imagine my stepchildren would see it any different?
I am working hard to achieve my gratitude and let it be a source of soothing some wounds of this painful season of blending families. It is a challenge for me not to feel entitled. God has provided tremendously for his kids through me. Like my stepmother, I have contributed many things to their lives that would otherwise not exist. I have prayed for them all fervently as for the children to whom I gave birth. I have been a support system for their father, a means of directing attention to their needs via encouraging their father to tend to them, and there have been other perks as well that have only come about with my presence.
While I see all the good that has come their way with my presence, I am all too familiar with what it feels like to be replaced in a father’s life, with a woman with whom he has fallen in love.
We will get nowhere if I don’t change from feeling entitled to their gratitude instead of being grateful God has brought them into my life. This is a change that needs to be brought around by my attitude change, regardless of how justified I feel my sensitivities are.
It is challenging for children to see how a loving stepparent is an asset. Often, a stepmom initially feels like an unwelcome change in their already unstable lives. I will write more on this in the future, but for now, I am still learning and making mistakes and growing in my position. I do know for sure, however, that the only way I can get through the discomfort, is to let gratitude replace resentment and pray that one day all of our children, and their children, will be able to benefit from appreciation like I did.
Entitlement isn’t the only antonym of gratitude; complaining is right there with it. I am ashamed to admit that I heard God call me out because I was complaining about not having a daughter. He gave me four incredible sons. I was convicted in my heart for the years of complaining. I did an emotional about-face, and I have never been anything but satisfied with my four sons since.
How about you? Have you experienced a trial that still carries the emotion of resentment? Is there something that you can praise God for, even though it was not what you hoped? I know cancer was not what I meant when I prayed, “Use me,” but ultimately, I am thankful for how God used it. Most importantly I am grateful for how God refined me through the incredible trial.
It is a known scientific fact that gratitude heals the heart.
You may know I am not a statistician but here is one report for anyone who doesn’t consider life to be proof enough: http://happierhuman.com/the-science-of-gratitude/.
Be sure you are signed up for my mailing list so we can stay connected.