Special thanks to Thankful for… Blog Party Contributor, Sarah, for sharing why she is thankful for the hard times.
Warning: this is not your typical thanksgiving post.
And I’m not the typical homeschooling parent.
Hard times, crisis, times when everything is changing (and not always for the better) — these aren’t the times most of us are grateful for. But I’m thankful for the hard times.
15 years ago, my life took a 90-degree turn from all my plans, when unexpectedly I found myself a 19 year old single, unwed, homeless, mother-to-be. And it was hard. 10 years ago, the day after what I thought was going to be the happiest day of my life, I discovered I’d made a huge mistake. And it was hard. 5 years ago, my marriage ended. And it was hard.
And I’m grateful for all of those hard times. Why?
I’m grateful for the hard times because they showed me just how strong I am, and how strong God is.
I once wondered what made the martyrs of the past cling to their faith. What could make a person leave home, family and give up their life for .. a promise? a hope. Now I know. I know intimately just how much God can be trusted. My faith is intensely personal to me, so I don’t share a lot about it, but the confidence I have in who He is, and what He does is unshakeable. And I wouldn’t have had that without the proving ground of hard times.
If you’ve ever been tested, been through the fire, you know what I’m talking about. No matter what the world tries to do, what pain my own or others’ bad choices cause me, He is faithful.
I’m grateful for the hard times because it’s improved my patience.
My grandmother always said that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. Practicing patience during the hard times has increased my capacity and created lifelong habits. The small irritations of life — being cut off in traffic or the paperwork snarls of utility companies don’t stress me out. I can smile and I can be gracious, because I know that there are worse things.
I’m grateful for the hard times because I’ve learned how to survive.
I no longer panic when something goes wrong. I have the skills to handle anything, because I can look back and say – “I survived that, this is easy!”. And I know how to handle emergencies. I can look to tomorrow without fear, because I know from experience that there’s nothing that I can’t handle, based on what I’ve already gone through.
I’m grateful for the hard times because now I take nothing for granted.
The old saying, “You don’t know what you have till it’s gone,” is so true. Until you’ve lost everything, you don’t know that you have anything. There’s nothing like a crisis to make you grateful for what you have. And being grateful for what I have has made me a better steward of my resources and I’ve been able to make better choices. It’s a habit I never want to lose.
I’m grateful for the hard times because it’s trimmed off the excess.
There’s nothing like nearly losing everything to help you shed the things you don’t need. For me, part of it was downsizing a 4 bedroom home into a 3 bedroom townhouse with 5 kids. And every year, I find it easy to donate, sell, or toss more that we’ve outgrown, don’t use and don’t want. This has also impacted my budget, because I’m now much more careful about what we purchase to bring into our home. Let’s just say, I’ve moved enough times now that I think about if it’s worth packing up to take, when I buy!
I’m grateful for the hard times because it makes me a better role model for my kids.
As parents, we all want our kids to grow up to be responsible, mature adults who make wise decisions. And as a homeschooler, I recognize that my influence on my children is enormous. They are watching me every second of the day. They see me handle the hard things.
My oldest daughter is now a teenager, and beginning to make her own choices. And I listen to her talk about her day, how she’s interacting with her friends, and I can see how my choices have impacted her. And I’m so proud of the young lady she’s becoming. I love that, despite all the hard times, I was able to model faith, hope and grace for her.
I’m grateful for the hard times because it has increased my impact on the world.
If it weren’t for the hard times, I would never have started my blog. And I would never have met some wonderful ladies, and been able to give them hope during some tough situations. But there’s always a way, and sometimes you just need the right support. Going through hard times has allowed me to be able to support others.
I’m grateful for the hard times because they’ve helped me prioritize.
When I became a single parent (again) 5 years ago, I was told that homeschooling was impossible. But homeschooling my kids has been the stability they’ve needed during a time of huge transition and change. I had to prioritize that, and my children. That led me to make choices about my budget, starting a business, and even what I could spend my time on.
Every moment counts. And going through hard times showed me how to prioritize so that I could spend my time on what truly mattered, like raising my children and sharing hope.
I’m grateful for the hard times because they’ve refined my values.
When you go through something difficult, it’s like being passed through fire. And like impurities being burned out of gold or silver, hard times burn away the trivia and the unimportant details. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a television series, I know that my relationship with my children is more important than catching the latest episode. My values are much clearer.
And it extends to outside myself too. I value my time much more now, so companies that don’t waste my time are more likely to get my business, even if somewhere else might be cheaper. And I now highly value integrity, so I look for that when choosing friends or communities to participate in. I don’t have time to waste on shallowness. While I’ll still have fun and be silly, the people and things I choose to spend my time and money on are ones that share my values.
I’m grateful for the hard times because of the confidence I’ve built.
Many people, when faced with hard times, crumble. They fall apart. And there’s a time and place for that. When your world crashes, of course you’re going to be broken. But you can rebuild.
Hard times melt away all the distractions, minor irritations and little frustrations. What’s left is what’s real. When you’re left with bare rock after it’s all been scraped away, you can build on a firm foundation. And that’s something — Someone — you can trust.
My life looks nothing like I had planned when I was a young, naive college student. There have been plenty of hard times. Yet, I can say with joy, I’m thankful. Because without them, I wouldn’t have the faith that I have. And I can see how that is shaping my children’s futures. I’m a better parent. I’m a better person because of the hard times.
And I thank God for the hard times.
Sarah is a single homeschooling mom of 6, from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Her daughters range in age from 1 to 14, including one with ADHD, one with intellectual disability, one who is gifted, and one with craniosynostosis. She has been homeschooling for 11 years now, with many more to go. She blogs at Raising Royalty and Xera Support.