I've been pondering a lot this Thanksgiving season on what I can do to show my thanks. This morning it seems like I have found some clarity in purpose, so I hope you, my readers, can bear with me while a share a story with you about our life.
A few years ago, after the birth of our third son, I went through a really low point in my life. Looking back, I can see that it was a reaction to, what was for me, a highly stressful few years. I had just come off finishing my Student Teaching and trying to juggle all of the demands of preparing lessons, after school activities, being pregnant, and chasing a toddler around. Then we had our second son.
Shortly after he was born, we experienced a month of unemployment, followed by a job transfer to a different state. I soon found myself 300 miles from home with a new baby, a toddler, and not many friends. About six months after our move, we decided that we were going to build a house. Within weeks of signing our papers to build, I found out that I was very unexpectedly pregnant again.
We soon moved into our new house and a few months later our third son arrived (two weeks early!).
We were very happy to meet our new little guy and had a wonderful Christmas season, enjoying our precious baby. Then January came, and so did all of the medical bills. Normally it would have been something we could have handled and paid down quickly, but we were still paying on our second son's birth and our savings had been depleted from unemployment and moving twice within a year. Also, I began feeling the stress of having two babies so close together. I started having panic attacks when my husband would leave for work. I began crying all of the time. I was far from home and felt like I had nobody. No one called to see if I was okay. No one came to visit and help out. I felt absolutely alone. Only my husband and mother knew how badly I was struggling. I remember getting up one morning, on a payday, and doing our budget. After paying all of our bills we had nothing left over. No money for food, diapers, or gas. I felt totally wiped out. Then a few weeks later, our 9 week old baby caught RSV. After three days of driving him to the hospital every 3 hours for a Bronchiolitis clinic, we were rushed to a local children's hospital, where my son stopped breathing in the ER.
We spent four grueling days in the hospital. One night my husband came to stay at the hospital with me and looked especially frazzled. He soon informed me our truck had been hit in the parking garage. We laid together on the little fold out bed in our son's room, held each other, and just cried. We were very blessed and had family and friends rally around us. For the first time in quite awhile, I started to realize that others did care about what was going on in our lives. I'd love to tell you that things soon got easier, but it took a full year before I started to actually feel normal again.
In sharing this story, I hope to let you know that one of the most important things you can do is to seek out someone who may need your help. I know it would have meant so much to me, to have had an extra person to share my feelings with or who would have volunteered to help me out. But, I also think its just as important to ask for help. I know for some of us it is really hard to break down those walls of pride and ask someone to help. I am sure if I would have humbled myself and said something, I could have had more help. So this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I challenge you (and myself) to seek out somebody who may need encouragement or help in any way. Rekindle an old friendship, forgive those who've hurt you, spend time with your family...in short, just give of yourself. I feel that one of the greatest ways to show your gratitude, is to pass a kind deed onto others, and in the end everyone benefits from it.