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How to Find Gratitude in the Trenches of Motherhood

How to Find Gratitude in the Trenches of Motherhood

Envy is not from God, I reminded myself. But as I fumbled to tie my 5-year-old Jeff’s shoes, I heard my neighbor’s car across the street zoom away. No doubt, she headed to the mall or to an appointment. She had her independence. But not me. My independence was a thing of the past. It had left along with my eyesight.

I ran my fingers across the counter to find the plastic cup. “Here, honey,” I said to Jeff, “not too much apple juice; it’s close to dinner time.” 

“Mommy,” He paused as he did when he was about to say something important. “Will you always be blind?”

I bit the inside of my lip, fighting a lump in my throat. I bent down toward him. “Sweet baby,” I said as I cupped his soft face in my hands and whispered, “We don’t know. But remember, even if Mommy can’t see, I will always take care of you and will take care of your brothers too.”

I kissed the top of his head.

But that night, I questioned my promise to him. The fact was my eyesight would never come back. And as his needs, as well as his three and seven-year-old brothers’ needs, were constant, so were my feelings of inadequacy.

The pain had begun months earlier with the doctor’s prognosis. “You need to prepare,” the ophthalmologist had said, “the disease will be closing in, and sadly, only a miracle could stop the progression.”

He was correct. In spite of numerous visits to specialists, herbal healers, acupuncturists, and anyone who could give me some hope, the inevitable happened. In a matter of months, my vision closed in completely, no shadows, no colors, I saw nothing but a gray veil. And in my physical darkness, I tossed and tossed during sleepless nights. Dabbing my tears with the corner of the pillowcase, I asked over and over again, why had God abandoned me? Why had He rejected my prayers?

“Mommy,” my seven-year-old, Jason, called out, “I can’t read this; it’s a note from my teacher.”

Helping them with school work, driving them to soccer practice, admiring their art work, and even cheering when they kicked a soccer ball toward the goal were things of the past.

Instead, what was ever-present was the reminder of the tasks I performed with ease when I had eyesight.

But pondering in the past didn’t last long because their active nature always brought me to the present. “Mom, Joe fell down,” Jeff screamed.

I dropped the basket of laundry on the floor and dashed toward the doorway, heading to the basement. As usual, I extended my arms to guide my path, but in my hurry, I misjudged the door frame and struck with such force that my forehead burst. The blood mixed with my tears of pain.

Joe was fine. But that night, when hubby came home from work, he hugged me. And then pulled back. With a slow motion, his fingertips lifted my chin. “What happened? You ran into something?”

“It’s nothing.”

But he knew differently. Bruises had become an everyday thing. The physical pain and the emotional trauma threatened to consume me. 

Until one day, God changed all. Until He gave me something better than eyesight. And until that day when my heart, which had been like a dried sponge, began to receive living water. 

He brought a friend who gave me a Bible in audio. With my headset on, I listened, pondered, and embraced each verse I heard. I formed a daily routine: While I cleaned the kitchen counter, mopped the floor, or folded laundry, I listened to His voice from the Bible and teachings from Christian radio stations. God’s Word trickled in with refreshing comfort and powerful reassurance.

That comfort came wrapped in His promises as He said His Word would be a lamp for my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105). Eventually, God transformed my heart and brought sunshine to each day with a special tool.

That tool was my GJ, or “Gratitude Journal.” It became the answer, the solution, the healing for my emotional turmoil. My GJ was what God used to lift me up from the pitiful, dark cave, and brought me to a wonderfully bright place instead.

I learned to operate a computer with a screen reader that allowed me to read text and also to write. With this tool, my Gratitude Journal began. In it, I placed entries listing all for which I was grateful.

  • Thank you, Lord, that today you gave me strength to smile and to display gladness before my little boys.
  • I thank you for helping me figure out how to organize the pantry. You kept me today from putting powdered sugar instead of flour into a recipe.
  • Thank you Father; you gave me the ability to smell spices and taste as I made spaghetti sauce. Today’s burned finger will teach me to be more careful tomorrow.
  • Thank you for teaching me to differentiate the boy’s voices and discern which one needs me.
  • Thank you to my husband, who doesn’t mind wearing pink T-shirts. You thought of it all--even teaching me to use bleach.
  • Thank you for the memory you gave me so I can remember my neighbor’s phone numbers when I need to seek a ride for doctor’s visits.
  • Thank you that I can trust tomorrow is in your hands, and all I have is today to be concerned about.
  • Thank you for being the protector of my sons when I can’t get to them on time. And I am grateful that they are your children first, and you care for them better than I can.

My gratitude journal opened a new horizon for me. I saw the best of motherhood, its joy and delightful moments. And the independence I lost made me confidently dependent on Christ.

Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker and author of four books. Her best-selling release, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta invites you to experience the simplicity of finding joy even in the midst of hardship, With engaging stories, Simply Salsa gives practical steps to overcome heartache and celebrate life once again.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Atipati Netiniyom / EyeEm

Publication date: February 13, 2017