Giving Thanks for the Pain


“I’m grateful my husband was an alcoholic. It’s taught us both about how to appreciate the normal things in life. ”

I listened to the woman beside me speak at a local Al-anon meeting. How in the world can a woman be thankful for her husband’s addiction?

I had just walked one of the most difficult years of my life and wondered if these meetings would help. I was the youngest woman there by 20 years and it seemed I didn’t have much to contribute.

As I listened to these women talk about their years of living with addicts, I felt lucky. My then-husband was getting help, I believed he would change, and I knew I would not be one of these women much longer.

But the truth I desperately wanted to believe did not come true. My ex-husband chose the addiction over our family and there was a long season in my life where I didn’t understand anything.

I felt so angry at his decisions that I wanted to hurt him like he hurt me.

The years passed and I was told by others that I would eventually be grateful for what happened. I would be free from the restraints he had put on our family and I could create a new life.

How could I give thanks for single motherhood? How could I cultivate a grateful heart when my children had no father?

While I didn’t understand how God was preparing the way for my little family, He was forming a new life for us long before I knew it. And my part didn’t include knowing how the story ends. I was supposed to trust Him to lead the way but instead I struggled with worry and deep-seated anxiety.

Despite my insecurities, God changed our situation in miraculous ways and I’m *slowly* learning to give thanks in the mess. As I look back on different seasons in my life I can easily see God’s covering and protection everywhere. When you’re too blind to notice His handiwork, you can miss out on seeing some beautiful blessings.

It’s what we do, isn’t it? This culture that seems to quickly skim over Thanksgiving and jump directly to Christmas right after Halloween. But our family refuses. We try to savor November and remember the things God has given us that money cannot buy.

Today I can say it. How I am thankful my ex-husband chose to leave our family. I am grateful he walked away, for his decision allowed me to be truly loved by a godly man and for our children to have a Dad who is present, healthy, and willing to do anything for them.

God has a way of giving us exactly what we need even when we have no idea we need it.

Deeper Still: Is there a situation in your life where you’ve struggled to feel grateful? How can you find a way to look at this season in your life differently?



9 thoughts on “Giving Thanks for the Pain

  1. This was well said. I know it sounds strange but it happens that way sometimes. I have come to the place I my life where I can say I am thankful for my abuse. Not in the sense that I am glad was abused, hurt, damaged. But in the sense that if I had not been, I would not have the relationship I do with Christ. For that, I am truly grateful. I am able to help others on this same path. God knew it would be so, he didn’t want it, but he was there with me all the way through it. He rescued me, restored me & healed me, so that I could help others. I thank Him for that. Crystal.

    • I do have an area of my life where I find it hard to understand. I learned recently that my daughter was sexually abused by my brother who was so very dear to me and has passed away before all of this was known. It has been a struggle for me to cope with it and after this came to light it brought back memories of my own childhood where I know I was sexually abused but have suppressed it all till now. I try to remember but it’s like it’s another world and I just can’t remember it all just bits and pieces. I know this is probably not have I am suppose to begin this process but I didn’t know where to start, please help!

      • Kathy,

        You are not alone! So many people deal with abuse and you are in a safe place. I recommend getting counseling and begin the process of releasing these memories and dealing with the trauma. You and your daughter can both heal. Give your pain to God, allow Him to guide your steps. Ask for wisdom and above all be kind to yourself. You’ve been through a lot.

        • Thank you Sarah, I know my daughter and I will be ok. With God as our anchor and the support of this group, we will be victorious.

      • I love you mom!!! We’re going to grow, learn, heal and overcome all of this. The beautiful thing is… we’ve finally given our hurts a voice, they are no longer holding us captives and I know, I KNOW, I BELIEVE THE LORD is going to do something so awesome, He is using our past abuse, hurts, betrayal, etc to weave a beautiful future, in FREEDOM. We have given Him access to the deepest, darkest parts of our soul… NOW, it’s HIS turn to do his wonderful work! (cuz we really sucked at it) I love you!

  2. Its hard to give thanks for the bad, but in spite of the bad I can find ways to be thankful.
    I’m thankful for all the hearts I’ve met on my healing journey without which I never would have known true unconditional love.

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