It wasn’t long after marrying the man of my dreams – that I was a disgruntled weepy mess. The man I begged God for – the man I thought could satisfy all my emotional needs – the man—if I just had even one night a week—I’d be happy. Amazing how quickly becoming a disgruntled weepy mess can happen – and for me it was quick.
I married Tom 11 months after our first date – and moved from my beloved town of Atlanta – I think I’m the only one in the world who actually loves that town – and moved to the Midwest town of St. Louis to live with my husband and his three children. Tommy was 21, just 2 years younger than me, Parks was 17, and Sarah was 13. And after about 4 days of bliss my new husband went out of town on business for 10 days. Thirty years later I am still regretting the decision of not going with him. What was I thinking??
Could have had an extended honeymoon.
Three step children who were closer in age to me than I was to my husband.
It wasn’t long before discontentment and anger took root.
I remember times of picking Tom up at the airport and before we left the parking decks I would insist he read the letter I had written while he was away. A letter written in total anger. As I reflect – I cannot remember what I wrote, I just remember the emotion behind the writing. I was miserable. I would call my mother who lived over 500 miles away – and cry into the phone. I was a very young Christian at that time, and wanted very much to do life God’s way – but not sure what that actually looked like. And listening to my mother assure me that God would never give me more than I could handle – was not so reassuring. I was definitely not handling life well as a newlywed.
– Pause – just so you can feel my weepy, angsty self of 30 years ago.
During this time my mother sent me a book by Catherine Marshall, Something More. She sent me lots of books back then, and I read every one with anticipation and an expectation of some sort of relief. Something More was a good choice for that time. I felt I had an empathizer in Catherine. There was a section in her book about her step-daughter – and it was obvious Catherine struggled in the relationship.
Yay, for an ally.
But that wasn’t what brought me relief.
It was when Catherine wrote about giving thanks to God for the smallest of things – especially those times when you can’t think of ANYTHING to truly be thankful for. I remember her thanking God for something to do with a mailbox. Crazy stuff. Really really small stuff.
Actually, that didn’t bring me relief either. At least not in that moment of reading her.
So, I began trying this gratitude exercise.
That still didn’t bring relief – yet.
It went something like this – in my nighttime prayers while trying to drift off to sleep … Thank you God that it is quiet at 10:00 at night and Tommy is not playing his bass guitar and the neighbors aren’t complaining at this moment. Thank you God that Tom is home tonight and not traveling.
I’m pretty sure that even my gratitude had an undercurrent of ingratitude in it.
So on this particular night – drifting off to sleep in a feeble and half-hearted attempt to be thankful for something – anything …
Then it happened …
I woke up giggling in my sleep.
I don’t think I’d giggled in a couple weeks.
But here I was … giggling … and content, as if the weight of marriage with three stepchildren and two cats in the home (I hate cats) had dissolved into joy. Not just contentment but sheer giggling joy.
That night in my sleep and that day prior in my reading of Something More, has been a defining moment in my life – and a lesson that I practice every day of my life – Thanking God in all circumstances.