I’ve heard some mature Christians say,” I’m thankful for my abusive past because…”. I’m not there yet , friends. My life is not the story I would have chosen. I would choose that every child have every good thing; good parents, good nutrition, good health, good experiences, good education.  But now I’m describing heaven and not this broken, sinful planet we live on.

Still, I am NOT grateful for my childhood or the 20 plus years of adult life I spent trying to figure out what normal is. I didn’t choose poverty for our family or the sexual abuse from my father nor would I choose it again. I didn’t want the mental illness or physical abuse from my mother. I didn’t want the surgeries to repair damage from sexual abuse or chronic back pain from the domestic violence I endured. The mind games, the crazymaking, the wrong programming, the spiritual confusion due to misinterpretation of Scripture is not a story I would have written for anyone.

What I am grateful for is that God promises to bring something good from every bad thing. Racheal’s Rest would never have come into being had I not endured all of the above. It was born of the strife I suffered to relieve the suffering of others. Only God can bring about redemption in that way. “Iron sharpens iron”. (Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another).

Survivors need each other and my joy is in sitting with someone else in their pain and assuring them it will get better. It has been said that our mess is our message. If there is any blessing from abuse, it is …on the other side of healing… that we are more compassionate, more aware, more tenacious, and more loyal than most people.

Maybe someday I will be able to say I am grateful for my past, but for now it’s enough that I have released the anger, risen above the poverty level, discovered myself, known love and I am enjoying my grandchildren. I have a new normal and life is good. I have learned to be content and that is a blessing few people ever know.

Please count your blessings this season and embrace your own story as part of God’s overall story. You don’t have to like it, but there is something powerful, something eternal, in accepting  the things you cannot change, having courage to change the things you can, and having the wisdom to know the difference. We cannot change our past, but we are in charge of our future.

Happy Thanksgiving!