Emotional Health•Healing • 6 minutes to read
Let me start by saying how grateful I am for my Pure Desire family. If you have read any of my previous blogs, you may recall some significant events in my life over the past few years. I lost my grandmother and mom in 2018-2019; and before their deaths, I watched them battle Alzheimer’s disease.
I was looking forward to 2020 as the year of rest, replenish, and renewal. Well, we all know what happened in 2020 and how it got progressively worse. The “icing on the cake” was when my husband and I tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of the year. Right from the beginning, 2021 started looking like a twin to 2020.
I live in the Dallas, Texas, area and we had been enjoying some nice mild winter weather. Then, a few weeks ago, we were caught in what I call “snowmageddon.” Our whole state had unprecedented temperatures and a lot of snow. Significant parts of Texas had no electricity, no water, busted pipes, car pile-ups and, at the same time, still in a pandemic. It was too much! I was feeling triggered, traumatized, and helpless.
With all of this, it would be so easy for me to fall into depression and, at times, I did. I learned through recovery not to ignore or dismiss the things going on inside of me—specifically my thoughts and feelings. I learned to have awareness. I know what to do in these stressful times. I need to not isolate but connect with safe people to help me process. And I need to pull out all my best tools from my recovery toolbox.
One great reminder I keep close to my heart is gratitude—an area in which I continue to grow.
What Is Gratitude?
A simple definition of gratitude suggests it is the state of being grateful: THANKFULNESS.
If we search our Bible, we’ll find quite a few scriptures on thankfulness. One that stands out for me is 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
I am reminded that God is good no matter my circumstances—He’s so good, He’s better than good.
Excuse me while I take a praise break right now! Thank you, Jesus!!!
As I was writing this, I learned that a family member had been rushed to the hospital. Genuinely, what rises in me is giving God praise, knowing that our family member is in good hands and thankful they got to the hospital on time. I am grateful.
This is growth for me. One thing I’ve come to realize is that having gratitude does not negate the reality of what’s happening. Practicing gratitude allows me to see the beauty in the ashes. As I come before God and offer up my gratitude, I can see and experience His great love for me, often in the midst of the storm.
As you can tell, in the past, it was easy for me to focus on the negative; before walking this recovery journey, it was easy for me to think and expect the worse. I realize this behavior was tied to past traumas—it was my way of staying ahead of the game and preparing myself for what was about to happen. Even now, when I look back and think of all the terrible things that could have happened, most of the time they didn’t happen to the degree I was expecting.
Now, what has grown in me is a beautiful thankful heart which is reflected in my words, behaviors, and mindset. I am so grateful for my Betrayal & Beyond groups—for the ladies in our groups who are there for each other as we walk through our betrayal trauma and life circumstances together.
What I’m Learning
One thing I’ve learned about growing in gratitude through my group experience was the importance of lamenting.
Lamenting? Isn’t this expressing grief and sorrow? Yes, it is. Part of lamenting and grieving our losses includes recognizing the trauma that has happened to us.
I know last year was a bit much for most of us, on top of everything else we had to deal with. If we don’t take the time to acknowledge what we are experiencing, it will be hard for us to press into the pain, process it correctly, and see God’s goodness on our way to healing.
Also, for me, lamenting helps me to properly process what is happening. When I look back at this time, I don’t want it to be a traumatic event that will cause me to be triggered in the future, nor do I want the stress of it to manifest physically in my body in unhealthy ways. Taking time to grieve and process the sorrow I’m feeling is healthy and equips me to better handle future stress.
The second thing we did in the group that I continue to do is list the things we were thankful for during the week. When we are working on the hardest part of our healing, it is important to intentionally find things to be thankful for.
One of the most amazing things about having an attitude of gratitude is recognizing the way it changes our brain.
When we practice gratitude, our brain produces dopamine and serotonin. They are like “happiness juice” chemicals in our brain. Did you know expressing gratitude helps us feel happy?
Practicing gratitude also helps our brain and body regulate stress hormones, thereby reducing stress and fear. As I’ve heard Heather Kolb (aka the brain lady) say, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” This helps me remember that when I practice gratitude, my brain is creating new happy connections. So when I begin to feel stressed and think something negative is about to happen, I can refocus my thoughts on the Lord through praise and thankfulness.
When applying everything I’ve learned about gratitude, here’s what I can say about last year:
- During the pandemic, when I was unemployed for two months, I lacked nothing. I am thankful God provided for all my needs.
- Although I could not travel, I am thankful I was able to complete two major certifications that will help me launch a new career.
- Even though I was exposed to COVID, I had very mild symptoms and I am so thankful my family remained safe.
- During snowmageddon, we never lost power, or water, and no pipes burst. I’m thankful my family made it safely back and forth to work driving on snow covered roads.
- In the midst of everything happening in our world, I am thankful God has given me a heart for people and an ability to recognize the suffering of others.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
Growing in gratitude not only makes me more aware of God’s goodness but it allows me to be more sensitive and empathetic to those who are hurting.
All last year—despite the pandemic, political unrest, and racial tensions—our group continued to meet and made ourselves available to families who struggled with sexual addiction and betrayal. I am thankful God made a way. We were able to go from meeting face-to-face to meeting online. And, with our new online access, we were able to accommodate those who would not have been able to come to our face-to-face groups. This was such a blessing!
I get to do what I do and help others walk out their healing journey because I’ve experienced healing. I am able to serve others in this capacity because I know what betrayal feels like; every ounce of pain, struggle, and trauma has not been in vain. I am honored to walk this journey with other women who may not yet feel hopeful or grateful where they’re at—but for now, I can carry this for them. This is another way I continue to grow in gratitude. And for this, I am thankful.
This footnote contains an Amazon Affiliate link.
Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. New York, NY: Penguin Group. 174.
The views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not reflect an official position of Pure Desire Ministries, except where expressly stated.