This morning I awoke at 4:30 am. Not my favorite time to be awake, especially after a 12-hour day shift in the ER that ended the previous evening. I generally prefer a lazy sleep-in after a long shift. But today as I lay in bed, I started praying.
This has been my new default in these irregular hours that I find myself awake in that comes with shift work. I have started to thank God for everything that I am thankful for. I list off all the things that immediately come to mind (like a good shift the night before, a cozy bed to sleep in) and then I strategically thank God for the blessings in my life (my family, my health).
Sometimes I fall fast asleep at this point. It is a beautiful practice that will change your perspective on life if you give it a genuine go.
Thankfulness realigns your heart.
The frustrations and genuine issues you face tend to fade to the background when you are taking your thoughts and intentionally directing them to praise and gratitude.
This is not being ignorant and pretending you do not have issues in life. This is choosing to channel your thoughts and intention on the good and taking that one step further and thanking God for all that is good. Life is hard, but there is good if we stop and look for it.
It was in this space this morning that I chose to get up and spend time reading my Bible and praying. I made my coffee at 5:00 am which is also not normal for me. But my thought was this, “why not?” Time, after all, is a gift. And I wanted to spend my time with thoughtful intention. (I did take one last longing glance at my bed, and almost slid back in). But change does not happen when I repeat old habits, change happens when I choose to embrace the time I have and make the most of it.
So, this morning, I decided to write down in point form the things that I am thankful for.
I wrote down my daughters’ names and thanked God for them and started to pray for them for the impending return to school that is upon us amidst Covid-19. I started to reflect on the last 6 months that I have been blessed with. March 2020, as we all know, Covid-19 shut down the functioning world as we knew it and changed all the rules and canceled all the plans.
As an ER nurse, I hate Covid-19. As a mother however, I have chosen to see the incredible blessing of time with my daughters that I was gifted with. Almost six full months I have spent with my school-aged daughters, being away from them for only one night in all that time. Six months! Learning to be a full-time stay at home mother while also working almost half-time evenings in the ER amid a pandemic has been a challenge that almost broke me. The daily task of waking up and diving into the role of a full-time teacher of a grade 1, 3, and 5 was a challenge, but then to take my mom/teacher/cook/cleaner hat off and put on my ER hat and walk into the front lines of a pandemic has been a character refining experience to say the least; an experience that I wish on no one.
But you know what happened? I grew, and I changed for the better. I learned so much about how I handle stressful situations. I cried, many times. I fell apart, and then I picked myself up (with the help of God and lots of support from my husband and closest friends), kept going and I became stronger for it. I learned to show my daughters that when you fail (not if) it is OK, as long as you learn from it, apologize when you need to and keep improving and growing.
My strengthened bond with our daughters was not something I anticipated in March of 2020 when the talk of shutting down schools broke in the news. These last six months have richly blessed me with growth in our relationships. I have seen my daughters struggle and grow right before my eyes. I have seen how resilient they are. I got to truly know them and I needed that; they needed that. What I value the most is being given this chance to have so much intentional time with them.
Time is a gift. If I can stress one thing, it is that.
Summertime of 2020 has been incredible; I define summertime as the period when it was warm enough to play outside until it is time that school starts (which is this week!). For me, it is almost exactly 6 months to the day as we were away as a family when the news broke.
Father God, I thank you for the good and the growth that has come out of this time of unknown and uncertainty of Covid-19. I thank you for how I have grown and changed and been refined. I thank you for the growth that I have seen in our beautiful daughters. I thank you for the gift of time. I thank you that we were able to make memories and have laughter during all this uncertainty so far. Father God, as school is reopening here, I ask your ongoing protection over our children and all the staff and bus drivers. Please keep our children safe and watch over them as they re-enter school. Calm their fears and uncertainties and replace it with joy, learning and renewed friendships.