Miserable, but thankful

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I love the lights and the sparkle.  I love the food and family time.  Most of all, I love the meaning of the season.  Once I became a mother, I learned even more about the meaning of Christmas as I cared for a baby much like Mary cared for baby Jesus all those years ago.  This year, Mary is on my mind again as my belly is swollen with my one and only son squirming around waiting to make his debut in a month and a half.  And, I am most definitely thankful not to have to take any donkey rides to other towns right now.  I’ve got some extra misery going on right now, but even just “regular” pregnancy misery would have had to made the donkey ride super miserable for Mary.

I wonder if she complained to Joseph.  She surely had a few complaints.  I’d like to think, though, that overall she maintained a good attitude.  She knew the child she carried was a special gift for the world.  She couldn’t have known how precious that gift would be and how He would change the world forever, but she knew He was special.  So I’d like to think that in spite of her misery, she was at peace and happy.

And it makes me check my own attitude.  The busyness of life, the challenges I’m dealing with that have resulted in modified bedrest and the activity of caring for a 3-year-old keep me occupied.  If I’m completely honest with you, I’ll fully admit that our nursery isn’t ready.  In fact, it’s not really even started.  I don’t usually operate last-minute.  I’d have loved to have it all finished by now, but that’s just not reality.   In the midst of it all, though, I’m working to make sure my attitude is in check and I just enjoy the privilege of carrying this little guy.  Pregnancy is such a short time period overall in life.  I don’t want to be so busy or so miserable that I forget that and take it for granted or don’t notice the blessing it is.  I want to be like I think Mary was: miserable but so incredibly blessed and thankful.

There are so many situations where this has applied in my life.  Sometimes I can catastrophize and get mopey.  A few years ago, I learned to embrace my feelings and understand that it’s OK to be sad or angry or upset — as long as I don’t get stuck there.  I’ve had times where I’ve gotten stuck in these feelings that lead to misery and bitterness.  I know quite a few folks who exist like this at all times.  And they aren’t happy folks.  For myself, I sometimes make a rule when something happens that upsets me.  I give myself a time limit (maybe 20 minutes) to be upset about whatever it is before I make myself move on and figure out a game plan or how I’m going to move forward and past the event.  I pray about it.  I avoid getting stuck in bitterness and pessimism.

I’m most definitely not perfect at this and still struggle with my attitude.  I am better than I was, though.  And that’s progress.  I’m embracing the same philosophies in my current situation.  Yes, there are things that still need to get done before the baby comes that are more challenging right now.  But, I also know I’m surrounded by the love and support of my husband, daughter and our extended family who will all help if I ask them.  And I know it will all come together.  Worst case scenario, we at least have the infant carseat out from the attic and the pack-and-play with its bassinet down in the closet so that we can bring the baby home and have somewhere to put him.  After all, the biggest things he’ll need is our love and help.  And we can do that whether the nursery is fully decorated or not.

As for me, I will survive.  In fact, at least once a day, I sing “I Will Survive” in my head.  I know I will survive. I’m not the first woman to be pregnant with challenges.  I won’t be the last.  I do get frustrated by it sometimes.  Last night, for example, I was frustrated at making frozen waffles for dinner for our family instead of something more substantial because I couldn’t be on my feet that long.  However, then I realized that not having to spend much time making dinner meant I got to read some extra books and have more play time with my daughter.  That’s never a bad thing, especially since she still got fed and was happy with her waffle, grapes and cup of milk.

I hope whatever circumstances you find yourself in this holiday season — whether happy and on top of the world, dealing with challenges and misery or somewhere in between — that you take a moment to be thankful for all the good of life.  I pray we can all be like my picture of Mary when challenges come: miserable, but thankful.

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