Thankful for hard times

I dealt with the divorce of my parents at the age of 14.  It was hard!  I was the only one out of my friends who lived in a single parent home.  I spent my high school years watching my biological father pull away from us and eventually moving away and out of state.  We didn’t see him every other weekend or even for dinner every other Wednesday.  We didn’t have summer vacations to see him. His family, my grandparents also cut us off.   No more boxes filled with Christmas gifts, cards for birthdays, or visits.  I guess they divorced us too.  He chose to walk away and avoid us.  As an adult I decide he did this because it was hard.  Too hard to see us without feeling guilty.  Too hard to be a part of our lives without being in the day to day part of it.  But what he didn’t see or consider was the hurt it caused all of us!

What could I possibly find in this mess to be thankful for?  Well, a lot!!!  As a result of my parents divorce, my mom married a man who stepped in to our lives and quietly and gently became the father we needed.  He loves our mother in a way that taught us what a happy and healthy marriage looks like.  He loves us in a way that is unconditional, like God loves us!  He is has been my rock, my biggest supporter, and my dad!  He taught me how to be more than a step parent!  He taught me how to open my broken heart.  How to allow the blessing and privilege of becoming a parent to children who need me to step in and love them unconditionally, without strings or expectations from them.  To love them through their hard days and to be open to their love, on their terms.  To be available and open with them.  He is a man who seeks God daily and his faith is a testament to his heart.  He showed me how God loves his children in the ways that he loves me.

I am thankful that my hard times allowed me to connect to 2 children who were hurting and struggling with their own parents divorce.  Thankful that I could honestly say to them that I understood exactly how they were feeling.  Thankful that I was there to wipe their tears, hug them, love them, and listen to them Thankful I was able to share my story with them.  I wanted to help show them they could be thankful for a mother who wants to maintain a relationship with them and wants to spend time with them.  To help them to know that the circumstances of their life do not define them.

I remember spending my high school and early college years thinking that because I came from a divorced home, I came from a dysfunctional family.  After taking Psych 101 in college, (and actually writing a paper on it that my professor kept for a reference piece) I learned that divorce does not make your family dysfunctional.  In fact, our family was far from it!  We were completely functional and had healthy relationships with one another.  My relationship with my father was the dysfunctional one!  Some families are more functional divorced.  Some families are better functioning as a blended family. This is not to say that our lives are all perfect and without its own fair share of difficult things.  But I will say the we have taught our children to function during our dysfunctional moments!  And let’s just be honest here, we currently have 4 kids in middle school, so we have a lot of not so pretty, moody, mopey, weepy, argumentative moments.

I am thankful for a mother that taught me that her divorce was never to be an excuse for my behavior, good or bad.  She taught me how to beautifully blend a big family and make it look easy.  She taught me that laughter is imperative in daily life.  She encourages me, listens to me vent and cry when I need to.  She shows up without judgment when things run amuck.  She is always there to give advice or just listen whenever I need it. But most importantly she showed me that faith is how we make it through all the moments!

There is so much more I could write about this, but hey, I have 30 days…well now 29 left to continue to dig deeper and to be truly thankful in all things!

“God can restore what is broken and change it into something amazing.  All you need is faith.” Joel 2:25

By Laurel Austin Henson

Laurel spent 8 months caring for her first husband after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He passed away at 33, leaving behind a daughter of 7 and 5 year old twin boys. After sowing millions of tears, Laurel sought out God daily and began to plan for a life of being a single mother, but ready to raise their children in faith, hope and love. God gave her more than she could have ever imagined when she brought Matt into her life, along with his 2 children. He was recently divorced and the providence of God had been leading up to this life for more than 20 years! Now Laurel is reaping joy with Matt and their 5 beautiful children. Thanks be to God for all the beauty created from the ashes of death and divorce.

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