What have I to be thankful for?

I spent the last couple of years writing down much of my childhood. Some of those times were very difficult as I relived many difficult memories in my mind and then again, in my emotions. I found myself irritable at times when I had no reason in my present life. I had reexperienced trauma and grief from days that were long gone. 

I experienced some really difficult times at work. In fact, I experienced probably the most difficult work year that I have ever experienced. I wrestled with my calling. I contemplated moving. I felt so lost at times, not knowing what was next, what was best for me, or how to move forward, while doing what was best for my family.

And 2020 hit. The pandemic has caused many of us to experience a lot of different things. I spoke with a parent the other day about her daughter who was finding it difficult to get her to do anything. Her daughter’s motivation was very low. I tried to empathize. Many of us are finding it difficult. We are tired. And sometimes, we don’t even know why. She told me she didn’t believe in the virus, thought it was a hoax. I said it didn’t matter, we are all living through it.

We have to distance from each other. We are wearing masks constantly. We have to cancel many of the joy filled events that we would normally attend. We are missing significant, meaningful opportunities to celebrate events the way we normally would. We said goodbye to my dad in the midst of this pandemic. It seems like every other day, something significant happens to cause us regrip, reorient, or regather ourselves. 

We’ve just gone through a very difficult election time period that felt like everyone was against everyone. Even if you tried to lay low and just place your vote, many others were constantly trying to drag you into their politics, both personally and on social media. I wish I could never have another political conversation again. And then I held out hope that after the election, it would all die down. And it didn’t. Not yet, anyway.

The irony is in so many ways, while 2020 has been difficult, I have much to be thankful for.

Unlike many others in our country, I have had job stability. I didn’t have to wonder if/when I was going to lose my job due to shut downs. We shut down and spent two months at home and I was able to work from there more comfortably than I would if I was at work (which is how we are doing it now). My “second” job shut down and I was thankful that we were able to continue that this year. It has played a major part of us getting out of debt. I am thankful that my job has not been in question and I have not lost wages due to this pandemic.

While the year has been difficult on my family, we still have much to be thankful for. I was annoyed that my daughter’s education was disrupted and she wasn’t allowed to do her clinicals during the initial shut down from the pandemic. I made up all kinds of reasons why/how she should have not been affected. Her graduation date was pushed back three months and prevented her from starting her career sooner than later. However, she was able to complete it. And then it wasn’t long afterwards before she found a full-time job that she loves. She’s making great money and bought her first car. She’s 19 years old and tells me how she loves her helping her patients. Yes, my 19 year old daughter loves helping her patients. Boggles my mind. I am thankful for some many parts of that and how it almost wasn’t and then was. Oh yeah, she did it without incurring any student loans and without us paying for it. 

While my youngest daughter, like many teenagers, has struggled with the isolation that we’ve all experienced, she has excelled, as well. She has continued to earn, EARN “A” after “A”, even when as a high school sophomore, her college classes went virtual with no other option. Many students have struggled academically, many that have normally performed very well in a non-COVID world. Yet, my daughter continues to kill it. I’m so proud of her. She did this while finding a good job and working an average of twenty or so hours a week in a COVID threatening work environment. She completed driving school and is one day away from getting her license. Happy Birthday! When I look at her life, I have much to be thankful for. She is a gem and has outperformed expectations in so many ways. 

My oldest daughter and her husband have experienced difficult times after he decided to end his military career at the end of his contract. It wasn’t an easy decision, but they made it. Then they transitioned back to civilian life and life in Ohio. It has been nice having them close, but I would have preferred living close to them in New Mexico. 🙂 As soon as they were ready to transition back, the pandemic hit and they were quarantined for two months close, but not home. During that time, my daughter was able to get a local job (or two) and has been killing it on that front. Both of them have enrolled in programs at OSU to further their education. They are living on their own and supporting themselves and they are killing it. I am so thankful for how they have been able to transition. They have work (schooling) left to do, but they are well on their way.

Lastly, on a very personal front, my dad died in August. As I was finishing my memoir to be published. Many emotions surround these facts and the timing of it all. But, I am still thankful. Even though life growing up was difficult, I am thankful my dad taught me many things. While I don’t want to go into them here and now, you will have a chance to read about them in the book. At Dad’s funeral, my brother, Jesse spoke and he said that though many times were difficult growing up, he wouldn’t change a single thing. I couldn’t have said that, but his sentiment is one of thanksgiving. And I too, am thankful for many things that could have been much worse in my life. I could have turned out quite differently. 

I am thankful God brought me through it. I am thankful that He made me a better parent because of it. I am thankful that He has used me because of it. I am thankful for what and whom He has given me. 

My wife has been an incredible support through all of this. She is always there to pick me up, to spend time with me, to talk about what we are going through. I can’t begin to express my appreciation for her. She is the constant in my life. She is always willing to do what she can to make me feel better and to support what I need. I am so thankful for her.

There are always things to be thankful for, even in difficult times. We just need to look for them and remember them.

Published by Shawn D. Congleton

traveler, writer, lover of God, thinker, family dude, in no particular order

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