Grateful in the storm

Why I’m Grateful for my Stormy, Chaotic, Windy Road

Have you ever been grateful for a story, chaotic, and wind road. I have and here’s why:

My Long Road to Gratitude

It was another gorgeous San Diego day: Seventy-eight degrees, with a dash of clouds adding character to the sky. I trekked from one side of the county to the other on one of my usual road trips for work. I paused the podcast and took a sip of coffee. Grateful thoughts enveloped me.

I am incredibly blessed, I thought. I’m grateful for,

  • Three amazing children.
  • A new baby on the way.
  • I love my career.
  • I have the privilege of connecting with so many amazing people, all over the world, through my blogging and writing.
  • Then, there is Jenny—my gorgeous wife, best friend, and the person I love spending time with.

Yet, the thought of Jenny, caused my mind to wander in a different direction. This time, to the things I regret.

Why couldn’t I have met Jenny sooner, I thought.

Life would be so much easier if only…

  • We were only a family and not a blended family
  • If we didn’t have to share two of our children each week…
  • We were able to put one set of rules and one structure in place…
  • If this chaotic court system—which often can’t seem to make up its mind–never entered into our lives.

Yes, life would be so much easier, if Jenny and I had met years ago.

But what if…

The coffee must have been extra strong that morning because my mind was racing a mile-a-minute. Thinking about what life would be like if Jenny and I had met earlier was fresh on my mind.

This November marks ten years of chaos… Ten years of courts… A decade of sharing two of my children… Ten years of a painful, crazy, chaotic, windy-road that I never intended to take.

Although daydreaming about a simpler life was fun, my musings hit a roadblock. I pictured all of the things that I would have to give up if the road was smoother. On several occasions, Jenny remarked how the drama of blended family life has brought the two of us closer together.

Because of this unexpectedly windy road, Jenny and I:

  • Talk more.
  • Have become adept at problem-solving.
  • Quickly learned to work as a team—I’m in awe at how many days are scheduled down to the minute. Yet, Jenny is always right there, partnering with me, to keep our family going.

This led me to think about all of the good that has transpired from the chaos. Ultimately, a relationship disaster, resulting in a failed marriage, has led to many reasons to be grateful. Because of this stormy road:

  • Mackenzie and Brooklyn were born.
  • I returned to school to study psychology.
  • This led to an invitation to teach at the seminary.
  • Today, I understand what it is like to hurt and struggle. My journey has transformed me into a more compassionate and understanding person.

In fact, it’s during the chaos that I realized that one-size-fits-all-approach doesn’t work. During my struggles, I began viewing life as an ongoing conversation–which is how this blog, Coffee Shop Conversations, was born.

Many of the things that I like about me, came out of the past chaos.

As I drove down the open highway, sipping coffee, and thinking—which is always a dangerous thing—I came to the conclusion that my stormy, chaotic road, is something to be thankful for.

Why I’m Grateful for my Windy Road  

Today I’m grateful for the chaos. Ten years ago, I never would have imagined this would be possible. I reflected back to the humiliating, painful, and confusing moments. These times include,

  • Iced-coffee was poured over my head in public.
  • Occasions my fingers were twisted, turned, and threatened to be broken.
  • Being slapped… hit with a shoe… yelled at… called every name imaginable…

I could go on in my description of the gruesome incidents. However, the details are not important. I don’t write about them often, and I was tempted to leave them out of this post too. Yet, I decided that it was important to provide a glimpse into just how chaotic my own journey was, for a particular reason.

It is Thanksgiving week. This year, our family will be spending the holiday in Sun City, Arizona. The five—soon to be six of us—will be joining Jenny’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousin. We will be celebrating the many things we are grateful for, and as painful as those years of chaos were, they are now included on my gratitude list.

Tears and Turkey

The bottom line is this, I’m providing a glimpse into my story because I want you to know that I can relate. Romans 8:28 describes how God is willing and able to work all things–even the unexpected storms of life–together for our good and His glory.

Today, I know that this scripture is true. Nevertheless, I also know how depressing it is to be in the heat of the chaos, and in the midst of the holiday season. It’s excruciatingly painful to be surrounded by joy while feeling like one’s world has been turned upside-down.

If this is where you are at, I’m not going to encourage you to try to be grateful for your stormy road—at least not yet. Sometimes gratefulness takes time. My goal is to leave you with hope. Know that:

  • It is highly likely that God is using this time of uncertainty to transform you into a more loving, caring, and beautiful person.
  • Life’s storms are where the greatest personal growth takes place.
  • Pain doesn’t last forever, and you will smile again.

Continue the Conversation

Fast forward a decade. I’discovered that my unexpected journey has left me with much to be grateful for. If you are currently on a stormy road, know that there is a good chance that it will eventually lead you to a place of gratefulness. As we move into Thanksgiving week, I would love it if you would join in the conversation.

  • How have past trials made you into a better person?
  • Has your own windy road left you with reasons to give thanks?
  • What are you most grateful for?

If so, I would love to hear about it!

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving week!

Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

21 thoughts on “Why I’m Grateful for my Stormy, Chaotic, Windy Road”

  1. A great post. I think its important to remember that all the choices or the past, good and bad, exactly as they were made, led to today. Change one choice and our lives would look different. In this way, it’s possible to see the entire journey in a new light and be thankful. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  2. This post is simply beautiful. At a time when so many people (including myself) are pushing for thankfulness, you are reminding people that it is okay to feel past wounds. I so appreciate that. I also went to school for psychology & am currently in seminary to earn a M.A. in Clinical Counseling. Your post resonates in profound ways & reminds me of some important lessons I’ve learned recently.
    Thank you for sharing honestly, and for being real. It’s impactful.

    Also – side note – I really like the name of your blog. I’m a coffee-shop-conversation type of person, so I think the concept is great!

    1. Thanks Alison,

      I sure appreciate all of the words of encouragement! That’s awesome that your studying counseling in Seminary. There is a huge need in our churches for compassionate people, with a strong faith, & a solid understanding of relational & mental-health tools.

      I saw this need when I was going through some of the challenges I faced, & eventually returned to school because I wanted to be a part of the solution.

      Do you have plans on how you’ll use your degree after you graduate? Counseling & psychology degrees open up opportunities in so many different areas, and I always enjoy hearing what others are doing 🙂

  3. Hi Jed,

    As you’ve demonstrated, it’s natural to think of all the pain we would have avoided had our life been different. This focus on the pain we could have avoided is a hard-wired program that has assured human survival for thousands of years. It drives a sane person to avoid repeating those mistakes or experiences that could potentially destroy us. But this program that ensures our survival doesn’t ensure thriving.

    Thriving isn’t hard-wired, but can be cultivated. One of the components of thriving is the learned habit of seeing the positive experiences that exist alongside the negative, and making the positive experiences the theme of our life story.

    Your post shows you’re doing that very thing.

    There’s so much good in my life that I wouldn’t have today had I not survived the dark and painful events in my past. While I’ve fantasized about how things might have been different had those things not happened–given a choice, I’d take my life as I’ve lived it.

  4. A hard realization for me is that some of my past chaos and pain was brought about because I myself was a different person in the past. I stayed in harmful relationships too long. I needed people to need me. I fought too hard and too long for things that didn’t matter sometimes. And even in cases where I was not to blame, I held onto the pain too long and allowed myself to nurse anger and bitterness. I am not the same person today.

    Likewise, wishing you’d met Jenny earlier would be wishing her presence into the old version of yourself – a “you” that might not have been able to thrive and value and communicate, as well. In that alternate universe, she might have been the “past marriage” by now.

    You’ve done an excellent job here of showing that the wishing we sometimes do, while romantic in the broad sense of the word, is not realistic; and your gratitude in the end over having met when and how you did is actually sound and even wise.

    I’m going to drop you a personal line on this, as well.

  5. Such a well stated and thought provoking post Jed! As a single man,I have never had to deal with marriage and family and the issues you shared. However, I can relate to and now understand how God uses the storms in life to direct us on the path that He wants for our lives so we can glorify Him. Some people do not understand when I say the stroke that almost paralyzed me was the best thing to ever happen but they just see the outside result. My relationship with Christ is something that I long to grow instead of running away from Him It is my desire to be in the center of HIS will for my life instead of my wants and desires. What an amazing God we serve. I am blessed that He chose me to be a child of His! .Thanks for visiting my site. It is always a blessing to come across believer’s who share their Christian faith and how God is using them and working in their lives. Blessings to you and yours in 2016!

    1. Hey Horace,

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing about the blessings you have found in your own, windy road. Overcoming a stroke, and finding blessings in the journey, is incredible! What a powerful, and encouraging testimony, for those facing similar hardships. Thank you for sharing this.

      Wishing you an incredible 2016 as well!

  6. And this is why I’m loving you both! Such transparency and I can relate to the emotions behind the words. I’m the “child” of divorce, many divorces. Although the road wasn’t easy as a child growing up with the battles you speak of, today, with God’s grace, it truly did made me into the person I am. Even in my marriage, because when my husband asked me to marry him, my first response, “let me think about this, I think divorce is in my blood.” Funny, but at the time, I didn’t want to put myself or my future offspring through what I went through. Well, I did say yes, and here we are 29 years later. It hasn’t always been easy, but who said marriage is. Anyways, as I’m pondering your Connect With questions, all of this gives me insight into who you are and what a great dependence on God you have. Love it!

    1. Thanks Michelle,

      Congratulations on 29 years, that is awesome!Thanks for sharing a little about your childhood too. I’m sure that this road is not easy for our kiddos either, and hearing that although your path was challenging, it also caused you to grow, brings me hope for my own children. Jenny is an amazing step-mom and it has been incredible to watch God work in our blended family home. I am confidant that in spite of some bumps in the road, my girls are going to have a great childhood. Thanks for joining in the discussion, and Jenny and I are excited about this upcoming connections post!

  7. When my husband proposed, he played “God bless the broken road that lead me straight to you.” And in the 10 years since the proposal, we’ve seen our share of continued chaos from sharing his older boys to adopting to military moves and deployments. But every single struggle has taught me more than I could have imagined. I like the person I am today so much better than I did before she was shaped and refined by the storm.

    And I may not always know why the storm is raging at a particular moment, but I always know where the journey will ultimately lead. I know He’s bringing me Home when he’s polished me up a bit.

  8. It is so true that out of life’s storms can come the most wonderful and unexpected blessings. God can truly work the most amazing things out that we would never have imagined!

  9. I am touched reading how windy the road has been for you…and you still find lots to be grateful for!
    You and Jen are both blessed. I know you are both going higher. I can feel it deep down.
    Blessings to you both and By the way I am grateful for you and your family

  10. Our mess turned into a message. Beauty out of ashes. The Lord is good…He is faithful..and life is a process of Him molding us. Thank you for sharing and being so real about the journey of your lives!

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