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All month long I’ve seen people posting about what they’re thankful for — their families, their jobs, their friends, their children, their satisfaction. Each person has taken the time to recount the blessings in their lives and say “thank you.” My children have brought home handmade projects that express their gratitude for their mommy, daddy, sibling, suckers and even water.

Reading through everything got me thinking; almost everything that everyone is thankful for are things they like. It’s easy to be thankful for those things; suckers are delicious, how can we not be thankful for them?! But, what about the things we don’t like? What about the things that happen throughout the year that aren’t delicious, aren’t so fun, aren’t so wonderful? What about the things that happen that make you feel frustrated or disappointed or even angry? The events that occur that may leave you shaking your head and throwing your hands up in mock surrender; “I just can’t do it anymore, I give up!”?

Why do we have to be thankful for those things? In the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, “In everything give thanks.” In everything; it doesn’t say you have to be thankful for everything. I mean, if you stub your toe you don’t have to do a happy dance and shout, “Why thank you stupid couch!” It friggin’ hurts. But, this verse challenges us to be thankful in everything, in every moment of our lives, whatever season we happen to be in — the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. Give thanks.

How are we supposed to do that? It’s easy to be thankful when we’re happy, when things are pleasant, when things are easy. But when things aren’t, it can be difficult to be appreciative. Just like it can be hard to see the sun through the clouds, you’ve still gotta try. Try to find the silver lining, if you wanna call it that; try to find the things you can be thankful for in your current situation or season.

I’m not an eternal optimist; it’s hard to be thankful when things are tough, but I know what it’s like to not be thankful — to seek out and focus on all of the bad stuff, to only be concerned with what isn’t and what might not be. It’s a sad, frustrating and lonely place. When your focus is solely on those things, it can be hard to see the positive and to find anything to be thankful for. It’s hard, I get it, but here’s the deal: “If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.”

I’m not always thankful for Gabe’s extra chromosome. I don’t like how it makes him have to work even harder to accomplish tasks that other children seem to breeze through. I don’t like seeing him frustrated because he cannot convince his mouth to make the words he wants to say. I don’t like that he lives in a world with others who may overlook his incredibleness because their focus solely on his lack of ability.

But I am thankful for what has come with it. The community that we’ve become a part of and the friendships that have blossomed because of it. The understanding that milestones don’t need to occur on a timeline. The ability to slow down in life and appreciate the accomplishments of each of my children in a new way. I’m thankful for that extra chromosome for showing me a whole new side of ability and, with it, a different way to view to world. It’s taught me about unconditional love and how to be an advocate for both of my children.

You don’t have to like the bee sting to appreciate the honey. I can’t guarantee I’ll always be thankful in the moments that are hard, but I’ll always try to find the things I can be thankful for. If I ever feel like there’s nothing around me I can appreciate, then I’ll look into the past and be thankful for where I’ve been and I’ll look to the future and be thankful for where I’m going. I hope you can do the same.

This post originally appeared on Hand Me Downs.

Read more from Sherry Clair on The Mighty:
When the Cashier Reminded Me My Son Has Down Syndrome

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