Finding a Good Thing
“A grateful heart is one that searches and can always find a GOOD THING.”
Years ago, I moved to this area when my son was around eighteen months old. I fled from an abusive marriage in the middle of the night with a bag of diapers and just 19 dollars to my name. I had been the lead singer in a band with my then husband and we made our livelihood playing gigs in little smokey bars and clubs. He held all power over me, the band and the money that was earned. His addiction to drugs and alcohol-fueled the emotional, mental, and physical abuse I endured. My job was to sing the songs that made the people happy and keep my mouth shut about everything else. That April evening, I walked out of the trailer house I had worked so hard to make seem like a cozy home to the outside world, and I understood the gravity of what it felt like to “lose almost everything.” One by one, with each passing mile, it was all stripped away from me: my marriage, my dignity, my family, my home, my band, my career, my dreams, my future and my life. It was all gone. As I drove to my parent’s house in Fouke, Arkansas, I kept looking into the backseat with gratefulness for my one GOOD THING who was sleeping peacefully in his car seat.
It is hard to fully put into words what life was like in the months that followed. After showing up on my parents’ doorstep in the middle of the night, I moved in with them and began rebuilding from the ground up. It was in their kitchen I gave my life to the Lord and realized to Whom my gratefulness was due. I found a church home that welcomed me in and gave my son and me a place to feel protected. I started going to counseling, and I obtained full custody. My parents helped me tremendously by taking care of my toddler while I worked so I could save up to get back out on my own two feet. I grew closer to my family during that time and made several new friends through work and church. Day by day, I noticed that my gratefulness increased as my one GOOD THING was joined by a few more GOOD THINGS.
A year passed, and I went on a mission trip to Canada. After the trip, I came to be close friends with a man from my team and eventually we started dating. I wasn’t the easiest person to be with; I withheld of myself and was determined not to let anyone too close. He was an amazing and godly man with every quality I could have dreamt of in a spouse, but I was untrusting with my heart. I feared that if I allowed someone access to the GOOD THINGS that had been accumulating, they might all be stolen away from me again. He was tenacious, though, and never wavered in his pursuit to prove to me he wasn’t stepping into my world intending to subtract from my GOOD THINGS. He was simply offering me all of himself, with a heart set on loving me well so we could create a life together. After months of courting me, God gave me a peace that he, too, would be a GOOD THING. When the loveliest ring slipped onto my left hand at the wedding ceremony, I looked around with even more gratefulness at the family that had so carefully and skillfully been formed and at my growing collection of GOOD THINGS.
Since then, we have added two more rowdy children, a dog, and a few reptiles to our assortment of GOOD THINGS. In April of this year, my husband was finally able to officially adopt my oldest son after years of praying and waiting for that promise from God to be fulfilled. It was one of the greatest days of our entire lives. In the courtroom, when the judge decided in our favor, the tears streamed down my face as I recognized it would actually be far easier now to count the NOT-SO-GOOD-THINGS in my life because of the GOOD THINGS have become innumerable. It became glaringly obvious to me that there had been many GOOD THINGS around me all this time, and it had been my count that was off.
This morning, as I sit and drink my coffee with a sink full of dirty dishes and listen to my youngest humming a tune at the breakfast table behind me, I take a moment to tell the Lord “Thank You!” for all the GOOD THINGS He has so graciously given. And “Forgive me.” when I make mistakes in my count, overlooking the blessings in my life. Because even NOT-SO-GOOD-THINGS can be viewed as good if we change our perspective. It takes an intentional effort to see the people and things that make our lives brighter and bring us joy.
The dirty dishes in my sink and the crumbs on the kitchen tile this morning serve as my reminder that our bellies are full. The non-stop cleaning of messes and scattered toys throughout the house reminds me that my kids are happy and healthy, living in a safe home brimming with tender love and affection. The list on my phone of all the daily tasks I need to accomplish today reminds me I live a very rich life. I have the most wonderful marriage, three beautiful children, incredibly caring friends, and a great, big family that would do absolutely anything for me. I could spend every waking moment telling the Lord how thankful I am for the life He has so thoughtfully handcrafted around me, and it would still never be enough to express all my gratefulness for His goodness towards me.
Gratitude stems from a place of understanding the feeling of lack or loss. It was difficult for me to lose nearly everything, but it helped me appreciate what I still had. A grateful heart is one that searches and can always find a GOOD THING, even in the hardest of circumstances. We cultivate a spirit of gratitude in our lives when we daily train our hearts and minds to see the GOOD THINGS around us. There is always, ALWAYS a GOOD THING to be grateful for. And I would be willing to bet that if you begin the count in your own life during this month of Thanksgiving, you will find more than one GOOD THING, too.