We’ve all heard the old song. Or maybe we haven’t, since old hymns seem to be a dying breed.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
*Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
[*And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.]
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—*money cannot buy [*wealth can never buy]
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end
Or there is the more contemporary song, Blessings, sung so beautifully by Laura Story. It’s the same beautiful message in a 21st century form.
Whatever version you prefer, the message is ringing so true with me this week. You see, I could be very negative right now if I chose. I am overloaded. I am exhausted. I’m stressed out. And yet, underneath it all is that “peace that surpasses all understanding”.
You see, for a long time I was dealing with really terrible, debilitating depression and anxiety. I was a train wreck. Every little thing sent me over the edge, and I was miserable to live with. At one point there were actually people coming to check on me periodically to make sure I didn’t hurt myself or my kids. I was that crazy. I am so thankful that I had the support of wonderful people to get me through it, people to whom I could vent safely. What I didn’t realize was how draining it can be to have a constant barrage of negativity. No matter how bad I had it or how much my support system loved me and wanted to be there for me my constant Debbie Downer was taking its toll on them. I about sent my husband and best friend over the edge during that dark time. I had no idea that this was happening until one day my best friend told me that while she loved me and wanted to be there for me, I was draining the life out of her because she never heard anything but complaining. I hadn’t stopped to think about how my depression was affecting others. I needed that tough love to remind me that my speech – both internal and external – deeply affected not only my own reality, but those around me.
That was the wake up call I needed. I started focusing on how my speech and actions affected others, and it really helped me take the spotlight off of my own pain and helped me climb out of the pit. I became very aware of the tone of my self talk. I started doing crazy things like getting dressed in the morning, even if it meant just putting on a clean shirt and yoga pants. It is amazing how much that helped. I started intentionally directing myself to be more positive. And over time, the depression started to turn around. I slowly began to find myself again. I began to enjoy life again, to enjoy my children rather than feel constantly burdened by them. I stopped feeling sorry for myself that I had a child with special needs, a host of rotten food allergies, and a husband who worked all the time. I began to realize how God had chosen me specifically to be a parent of a child who needed a lot of extra everything, and what an awesome responsibility it was. He must see something in me I didn’t. I focused on how much healthier I felt without eating red meat, dairy and gluten, and how much weight I had lost that I would never have lost without the allergies. It led me to a healthier way of eating (okay, minus the Chick Fil A runs). I started appreciating that I have a husband who loves his family and works his tail off to provide for us the best way he can. It’s not because he wants to be away from us, but because he wants to ensure we have what we need. More importantly, I started saying these things out loud. Most importantly of all, I began thanking God for the bad, because it came with the good. I started praising Him just for being who He is. My world has changed. He is so faithful and merciful.
I don’t want to paint a dishonest picture, here. I still complain sometimes. At times more than I should. I’m definitely not sunshine and rainbows full time, and even if I was, that would be a dillusion. That’s not reality. I still hate having food allergies some days, still wish my baby girl could really talk to me, or get through a morning without a complete meltdown about pulling a shirt over her head or brushing her hair. I still wish my husband didn’t HAVE to work so hard and such crazy hours, because we miss him and I hate seeing him stressed out. But overall, my life is so different than it was this time last year, and a complete one eighty from the year before that. I know so much of that is because my friend loved me enough to be honest with me. I’m so thankful that the Lord has placed the right people in my life at the right time. He is truly who He says he is. Faithful. Merciful. Loving. Providence.
So today, as I am thoroughly exhausted and sore from head to toe, I am thankful for all the things that it means I DO have. I have a home to call my own. I am entrusted with the care of three precious little souls, to guide and love. I am able bodied enough to clean our home and care for our children. I am wife to a man I am beyond proud to call my husband, who is loving, kind, hard-working, dependable and who loves Jesus. I have the most incredible friends anyone could ask for. Above all, I am the daughter of the Most High King, precious to Him. Loved. I am blessed. So very, very blessed. In so many, many ways.
See what God has done.