Our season of life was indeed changing. We were shifting from a lonely, painful separation to finally stepping boldly into reconciliation and a restored home.
We had done the hard work. We had been open and transparent, met weekly in counseling, and shared tears and hugs and hope for our future.
We were trusting the God of Restoration to work miracles and bring dead things back to life.
But for some reason I couldn’t get my heart to catch up with my head.
I was supposed to be feeling thankful, relieved, celebratory. I was supposed to be rejoicing and overwhelmed with love. Instead, in those first few months I found that I was guarded, afraid of being left again; I couldn’t muster up the joy and appreciation that I thought I’d have when he finally moved home.
I didn’t feel like being grateful that he came back. I was still grieving. I didn’t feel like being engaged or forgiving or kind some days. My heart felt dead even though I was going through the motions of married life.
So I prayed that God would give me a new picture of my husband.
I prayed for dead parts of my heart to be restored. I prayed that I would feel for this man — the one doing everything right and working so hard and staying the course of rebuilding — what I used to feel for him. I prayed that his consistent actions and our hard work would start to pay off with a rekindling of our love.
I didn’t know how long this would take. I didn’t know how many dinners and date nights and meaningful conversations and counseling sessions it would take for my heart to catch up.
I didn’t know how to be grateful when all I felt was grief.
But then I started seeing glimmers of hope.
Appreciation for this man and our marriage started to bubble up again at the oddest of times.
The loving notes he’d leave in the morning with Bible verses chosen just for me. The long looping walks we’d take at night through our neighborhood as we talked about how our hearts were coping with all of this. The way his arm would brush my arm in the kitchen and how the warmth electrified me.
Trickles of joy started to return.
A weird stirring in my heart came one morning when I realized I actually missed him and I was looking forward to him coming home from work that evening.
The God of Restoration was in fact working miracles and it included giving me a grateful heart for my husband and his return.
I realized that in order to be grateful for something we must first know its worth.
We have to know what it means to us and I was finally reminded, through patience and prayer, what my marriage meant to me. I was finally beginning to feel appreciation and love for this man that God had gifted to me.
I realized gratitude is birthed in our hearts, not overnight, but sometimes slowly, like a bud opening. Love and hope and warmth were all starting to blossom through petitioning in prayer.
This, God was showing me, is how hearts are restored and gratitude born. For my marriage, I had every reason to be thankful.