How Gratitude Helped Me Cope with Divorce
I learned about the power of gratitude in my mid-twenties. I was a newly single mother of two young boys going through an emotionally painful divorce.
After months of unbelievable stress, too many tears and heartache, I was well on my way to becoming a bitter person who was aging at what seemed to be hyper-speed.
But then my prayer for relief was answered when the book Prison to Praise by Merlin R. Carothers, found its way into my hands.
The lesson of the book was radical and quite simple. Regardless of circumstances or our perception of them, be thankful for everything.
Now I have to confess. I didn't feel thankful at all. And I had to read the book more than once to even accept the idea that thankfulness for everything was God's will and in my best interest.
The whole idea of offering words of gratitude for being abandoned by the husband I adored and having to raise two very young boys on my own seemed ridiculous. Why would I say "thank you" for that! But what did I have to lose?
Yet the words of the book kept urging me on. I decided to do it. So one afternoon I took a leap of faith and began expressing gratitude for all that happened and the loss we felt. I don't remember being at all reverent. But I was sincere and believed that thankfulness was for the best.
And then a very strange thing happened. Even before the last words left my mouth, I began laughing until tears ran down my face. The most incredible feeling of peace filled my entire being. That feeling of deep peace and well-being lasted for weeks.
It became very clear to me that all was well even though nothing outwardly changed. But I changed. My perceptions changed.
That experience was the beginning of my sometimes challenging, but always rewarding "attitude of gratitude".
I learned that being grateful for only the things I perceived as 'good', was a sure path to misery. No matter how deep my sorrow, or how difficult a circumstance may be, I have learned to offer words of gratitude for it, just as it is.
Again I confess that sometimes expressing gratitude for a particular circumstance is primarily a conscious act of will. I don't want to do it or feel thankful at all. Yet I do it anyway because I know it is my best chance to see through to the light.
I have never quite had an experience like that again. Still, a measure of peace always follows on the feet of my gratitude prayer.