The Choice of Gratitude in Difficult Times

The Choice of Gratitude in Difficult Times

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This week, I am 35 weeks pregnant with Ben and I’s third child. This also happens to be my sixth pregnancy. I try not to let the fear and remembrance of the losses we’ve endured impact these last few weeks of what will likely be our very last pregnancy, but I admit, it has been extremely difficult. I also try not to let the fact bother me that we have medical debt stacked up higher than we can see – mostly because of me, too. I try not to let it paralyze me when I remember that we’re unsure how we’re going to pay our bills for this pregnancy, either – other than something like ten dollars a week toward the looming debt… which is about all we can manage right now.

I could very easily choose to be bitter at our financial situation. 

I could choose to let it overwhelm me with despair, and to be honest, sometimes it does come crashing down on me in my most vulnerable moments, and I crumble under the weight.

It’s hard not to compare, too, when I see friends from college going on weeks-long trips to foreign countries for their “babymoons” – when for our “babymoon”, Ben and I went to Lake Michigan three hours away, stayed in the cheapest motel we could find, all on money borrowed from my parents and what Ben had made by donating plasma. We almost didn’t get to go at the last minute, too, and I admit I cried for over an hour, despairing that our planned-for overnight trip was not going to happen because of our finances.

But you know what? We did go on that trip, and we enjoyed ourselves at the beach. For that I am choosing to be grateful, knowing full well how privileged we are to even be able to go on a “babymoon”… and then remembering that a “babymoon” also means we have a baby on the way, something that through my last miscarriages I wasn’t sure would ever happen again for us.

That is how I make it through these trying times – that is how I am okay in our mess – simply by choosing to be grateful.

The Choice to be Grateful 

It has to be a choice, too, because my natural inclination is to despair.

I could despair when I see my other pregnant friends decorating their nurseries for their new babies with new beautiful, expensive furniture, when we are using all old, used furniture, and planning to house all three of our children in the same room once the baby is old enough to move out of our bedroom.

Or I could choose that we own a home with a big enough bedroom to hold all three of them, and that they are all content to share a room together.

I could despair over that medical debt – or I could choose to look at it as a bill we can eventually take care of bite by bite, even if it will take years. And I can remember that we do have good insurance that has prevented it from being even higher, and that it represents good medical care that has allowed our family to remain in better health.

I could despair when we use our WIC card at the grocery store to purchase food, knowing that if we made more, we wouldn’t need to be on any kind of government assistance. But then I remember one summer day when we had nothing in our bank account, how we were able to go to a farmer’s market and use WIC checks – how happy the peaches and blueberries we were able to purchase made the kids. And then I can choose to be grateful for how much WIC has fed us and how much we have been able to save on groceries because of it.

Eternally Grateful

Recently, I stood before our church’s congregation and was confirmed in the Episcopal church, our rector’s hand on my shoulder, the bishop’s hands on my head, making the sign of the cross on my forehead. Later, I took the bread and the wine, was fed with “spiritual food”, and watched as people from all walks of life headed to the front of the church to share from the same table.

In all this, I was reminded of God’s abundance. I was reminded of when Jesus commanded us not to worry, that God always provides for us. I remember one sunny afternoon last spring, when Ben and I were driving home on our last fumes of gas, and I was once again ready to cry and despair at our situation, when I looked out and saw a bright red cardinal in a flowering tree. Instantly, I remembered: God clothes the birds of the air and the flowers of the field… so how much more will he clothe me?

I was then reminded that God has surrounded us with people that will not let us sink. We have a family and community around us that cares deeply for us, and these people will not let us go under. And for this I again choose to be grateful, because I know that they are one more gift from God, one more way he is taking care of us.

Just Enough

I remember now a verse from Proverbs 30 that I read to Ben on our way to Michigan this summer:

“…give me neither poverty nor riches. Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.” 

I know now that we don’t need to be rich. No one really needs to be rich. All we really need is just enough.

And so we pray for just enough, and we pray that we may be generous with any overabundance we have.

…and that we may be grateful for every bit of it. 

We’d love for you to join us in this bumpy ride – and share with us about your own journey, too. We’re creating things like our Fruit of the Spirit printables, available now for subscribers, and more resources are coming soon that we’d love to share with you. Next up is our Scripture, Saints, and Hymns printables and coloring book… and something special is coming for All Saints Day, too. Subscribe here– and let’s do this thing together. 


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