Emotional resilience is a key skill to learn and practice these days. We need to teach ourselves and our children how to bounce back when life is difficult – not by refusing to feel emotions or let emotion show but by understanding that it’s much better to allow all our emotions an outlet and that it is rare that ‘happiness’ is felt on its own. As the film Inside Out so eloquently points out, joy is felt most keenly when it sits alongside sadness. One of the ways I have found the most helpful to do this is in being thankful for things even when the circumstances that surround me are not the best. Again, this is not about denying it when things are sh*t but about seeing the good in everything.
You might have seen my blog post from earlier this week about authenticity and what a photo can’t show you. Here are the same pictures with the back stories reframed around thankfulness.
This is me, 13 weeks pregnant with my number 2 son at a friend’s wedding Christmas 2008. It was a stressful weekend but I am thankful for the opportunity to celebrate with our friends and mark this important occasion with them. I am thankful for the company of a friend as we got ourselves from wedding venue to reception!
This photo is from early in 2010. I had lost a lot of weight, but was exhausted, losing my hair and in pain. Still, I am thankful to this day that the doctors and nurses caught the cancer before it got to the critical point of spreading to my lymph nodes; I am thankful for family who rallied around and looked after the boys; I am thankful for my church who provided meals with so much love; I am thankful to be here without the more extreme side effects of bowel surgery.
This is a picture of my hubby and smallest boy on the beach in the summer of 2013. I am thankful for the close friends we were at the beach with; thankful that we got to share life with them on an almost daily basis; thankful that the relationship is still strong even with 180 miles between us now; thankful that them leaving gave us an opportunity to take on a young man who became like a big brother to our two boys and taught us a lot about what it’s like to live with a teenager!
This is a picture of a baptism service at our local pool. I posted this on Facebook in September 2014 as it was our first church service with our new church. I am thankful for the grace, love and friendship given to us by these wonderful people at a time when we were really hurting; I am thankful that we took the plunge (pardon the pun!) and followed where we strongly felt God was leading us; I am thankful for the wider family of God helping us feel accepted and loved.
This is a picture of me in the middle of a bunch of young people and my boys (hubby lurking in the back of the group!) at Soul Survivor 2014. I am immensely thankful for these young people and our good friend Steph (in the front) with whom we have laughed, cried, and learned huge amounts about ourselves and others; I am thankful for the opportunity to go away with them and have a lot of fun despite the weather being rubbish and getting no sleep; I am thankful that these young people embraced my two young ones and were happy to take them along with them.
It’s so important that we are both authentic and able to reframe our experiences around being thankful. Take a look at the hashtag ‘#3goodthings’ on Twitter, this is a community of people making life better by being thankful for the small things as well as the big things, and try it out yourself. Be true but be thankful and see what happens!