About three years ago, I was in a slump. Having just survived brain surgery—ecstatic and grateful—only to return to reality filled with emptiness. I drove to work every day trying to muster the feelings of thankfulness that I knew too well, but couldn’t grasp.
One morning I took the long way to work. The fields on each side of my car were bursting with color. Bright yellow flowers for as far as my eyes could see. I did something I don’t recommend, or do too often, but I couldn’t help myself. I got out my phone and snapped a photo.
Yes, while I was driving… please don’t tell me kids!
When I got to work I pulled up the picture and posted it to Instagram.
I can’t tell you what changed that day. How could a silly picture transform my perspective?
Amazingly, it did!
From that day on I went looking for things to be thankful for. You don’t even have to look very hard, beauty is everywhere. So began my #thankhimeveryday challenge.
I attempted to post a photo every single day, but of course I missed lots of days because my attitude or perspective was wrong. That happens. All the time.
Now almost every post includes the hashtag #thankhimeveryday because I post about all the good moments, all the blessings, and all the beautiful things I see and hear and tell myself to believe.
Fast forward to September 2019.
As many of you know I just returned from an anniversary trip with my husband Josh. We had been saving and dreaming and anticipating this trip for close to five years. Croatia is a beautiful country, but our trip wasn’t all beauty. This picture is from our last day, after we experienced our share of blunders.
The second night of our trip, I found myself in a hotel cafeteria at 4am, unable to sleep from all the disappointment. Josh was tired of my tossing and turning and he begged me to leave so he could rest.
I trudged through that food line. My tray bearing a hard-boiled egg and two croissants… and a huge cup of coffee. My clothes were from the day before, the same clothes I slept in. Maybe I could use the time productively… might as well get some writing done?
After about thirty minutes, I pulled out my phone and pushed “live.” There’s something completely freeing about sharing what you are going through in the exact moment you are experiencing it. And it made me feel so much better.
I posted the video, and the hashtag #thankhimeverydaynomatterwhat only seemed appropriate. Our days aren’t always beautiful, we can’t always find the field of flowers out our windows.
Our first week continued to be rough. Cancelled flights, lost bags, and getting turned around more times than I can count. Thoughts of home appeared less stressful than vacation… unbelievably disappointing!
And then… the waterfalls of Plitvice National Park seemed to wash away all the worry. Our navigation challenges stayed with us, but that’s nothing new in our marriage.
Gratitude paints little smiley faces on everything it touches.Richelle E. Goodrich – Smile Anyway
The takeaway from Croatia 2019 is that life never goes the way you plan. There are the times more glorious than we could ever imagine and then the days when it is not glorious at all. In fact, it’s a complete bummer. But being grateful, even in the disappointment, does spread smiles all over the place.
The one thing that we can always—and I mean ALWAYS—depend on is the love of Jesus walking with us no matter what life throws at us. We can thank him regardless of our circumstances because our gratefulness isn’t wrapped up in the blessings but in His abiding presence, giving us comfort no matter what we are going through.
What challenges are you facing and how can you be grateful in the midst of disappointment?
Much love, Wendi
In case you missed that live video from our Amsterdam hotel. Enjoy my messy hair!