Thankful For What I Have…Thankful For What I’ve Escaped

EscapedI am nearing the end of my One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp. It holds 60 devotionals, and I’ve read through them slowly, savoring each one, because Ann’s writing is like poetry and I never want the book to end. And yet, here we are at the end. I have one more to read tomorrow and then I’m done.

There’s a place in the back of the devotional to list your own gifts. One to 1,000: the blank pages are there just waiting to become a catalogue of gratitude and grace and beauty. And though I’ve had the book for a few months now, I’ve only filled in 110 lines of the 1,000. That’s not to say I’m not grateful. Since I became familiar with Ann’s work, I’ve become grateful for just about everything around me, big and small. Through her gift of writing, God has helped me to see clearly for the first time the embarrassment of riches all around me. I suppose somewhere along the way of documenting my gifts, I got busy and simply stopped remembering to write them down.

Being a bit of a reflective soul, this morning I flipped through the pages of my 110 gifts I’ve documented so far. It brought a smile to my face. Some in blue ink…some in black ink…each one holding its own special memory.

The sweet man in the wheelchair who held the door for me and mom.

Morning walks at the ranch.

Week two on the New York Times Bestseller list!

And then, there on line 100:

Finally being free of him (9/15/14)

You see, I started this devotional months ago (over the summer, to be exact) when I was going through a bit of a challenging season. I was in a relationship for the first time in years and yet even though I finally had everything I’d thought I’d always wanted…my soul felt empty. Lost. Bereft, even. What was wrong? Hadn’t I loved this guy for as long as I could remember? Why, then, once we finally found our hearts in the same place at the same time did mine feel…disconnected?

The answer would come much later…on 9/15/14, to be precise. But surely…surely…since I was keeping this journal of gratitude during this relationship, even as ill-fated as it was…SURELY I had expressed my gratitude for him somewhere in the 110 gifts I had remembered to list. (Surely.)

I flipped back through the list.

Double rainbows

Sweet tea in mason jars

Giggles from my nieces

But no…nowhere among the gifts did I list his name.

The only time, in fact, that I mentioned him anywhere on my gratitude list at all was to note how thankful I was to be free of him. On September 15, 2014. Also known as the day he finally shattered my heart enough to wake me up.

Evidently, though…I had been more awake the whole time than I realized.

An eight-year on-again, off-again relationship…a main character in my second book…the man I thought was the great love of my life…and not once in 110 gifts did I list his presence in my life. The gift came instead, in his absence.

Oh, how the truth finds a way to come out, despite our denial and our own stubbornness and even the cries of our own hearts!

It turns out that I did not consider him a gift. I did not consider the relationship a gift.

I considered the end of the relationship a gift.

And it was.

25 Responses to “ Thankful For What I Have…Thankful For What I’ve Escaped ”

  1. Relebohile Seephephe
    November 20, 2014

    The gift of goodbye!!! Love you Mandy,may the wisdom God has bestowed on you keep growing,i don’t know where i would have been had it not been of your blog for the past few months.

  2. Helen
    November 20, 2014

    Wow this speaks into my heart so clearly. I hope that your heart is healing and that you enjoy your freedom. Thank you for sharing and helping me see that I’m not alone in my single journey. Thank you for helping me to believe and trust that God has better for me than that I have had to fight so hard to leave behind. Thank you.

  3. Mel Chavez
    November 20, 2014

    O wow!!!!! A 6 long year on and off again relationship for me….thanks for this!!! Absolutely what I needed exactly right now.

  4. Jacquelyn
    November 20, 2014

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your writings and how often they have gotten me through a tough day or week. I too had my heart shattered enough to finally end a 4 year relationship on September 21 of this year. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. Sharing commonality is such a huge weapon against loneliness and feeling less than what you really are. All God’s blessings. Jacquelyn

  5. Patricia
    November 20, 2014

    After my 17-year marriage fell apart, I started feeling grateful that he was gone about nine months after we separated. That grateful feeling was in moments. Then I’d be back in the emotional wrestling match that is divorce.

    It’s now been a year and 9 months since we separated and my gratefulness is full time. It is a good feeling.

  6. Val. Cusack
    November 20, 2014

    Thank you for your gift to create my own gift list and you have reminded me of the small things in life are some of the biggest treasures but so taken for granted I am 65 and through reading all these wonderful bits and bobs you clever and insightful people write my life is still expanding. Thank you with warmest wishes Vallee

  7. Penny
    November 20, 2014

    Hugs Mandy. Please do share with us your story once you are ready. Thank you for this.

  8. Renee
    November 20, 2014

    Thank you for sharing with us, Mandy. I have to say…I have lived for your tweets and blog posts in the last few months in the midst of my own breakup. And last week, almost 3 months from our last date, my ex contacted me again “just to check in” and see if I wanted to go out of town with him. It was like all my hard work to piece myself together had been shattered but the thing is…I didn’t give into him this time. I told him I had other plans and I haven’t heard from him since then. While it hurts, I think my heart knows it’s time to move on. I feel emptier but lighter without him. A relationship with someone you really like shouldn’t make you feel constantly miserable and insecure. And as I’ve come to learn, I shouldn’t settle no matter how hot he is or how long I’ve been single.

    • portia
      November 20, 2014

      I’m reading all these comments now. I can relate to it. It is true, you do feel lighter and free. I pray, that all woman who have these types of guys in their lives become stronger. To realise that he is not the one and move the tweets, because whenever I read it, lights goes on in my head…Thank you…A gift from God…

  9. Cas
    November 21, 2014

    Me too. Even though I still thought about this guy who rejected me at nights, I realized with a clarity I don’t consider him a gift at all. Not once has he bought gifts, only hurts. And being so calculating over fast food restaurants we ate at. Whew. What a relief to be freed of him rather than bad dating experiences. Thank you, Mandy. Xxx

  10. Sandra
    November 21, 2014

    Hi Mandy

    WOW!!! I have to say that I am almost finished reading your book “I have never been to Vegas” and I am LOVING it, don’t want it to end. The lessons and insights are so well put and while I think all women know it, you have a way of communicating it that really hits home and makes it real. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, thoughts and feelings….it really makes me realise that there is nothing wrong with me and I am not abnormal or insane because of the things I say, do and think and hope for as a single woman. It seems we are all the same which is very reassuring. Also to know that the pain I carry at times is experienced by someone else and someone who truly understands.Mandy you have no idea who I am or even what I look like but just know this: you are having such a positive impact on my life and God led me to stumble across your site on the internet because He knows how much I need to hear your messages.
    I assume the guy you are referring to in this post is Mr. E? And I must say while reading how many times he disappeared and came back into your life in your book, I am surprised to learn that your story with him doesn’t end there in the book….there is more. Thank you for being able to share this information so bravely and honestly without fear of judgement. I have gotten to the point where I don’t tell ANYBODY about any of my Mr Exes who pop up out of the woodwork every now and then as I am too embarassed and ashamed to admit that I let them back in despite the number of times I have allowed them to hurt me. So THANK YOU Mandy!!! You are a God send!!
    My prayer for you is the strength and courage to seriously let go and get over your Mr E this time. May God bless you with a new man who will make Mr E seem like a speck in the dust!!
    Best wishes.
    Love Sandra from South Africa xxx
    P.S. Perhaps we will see another book in the near future 🙂

    • Mandy Hale
      November 26, 2014

      There is more. And though I kind of wish it had ended with the book…it didn’t. The rest of the story will be told soon. I promise. 🙂

    • Sandra
      November 27, 2014

      Its always easy to talk with the benefit of hindsight hey? I am not sure which is worse…no hope or false hope!? That’s why we have the women in our lives to support us through, we need each other and I am so grateful to God for all the women in my life, including the ones I have never met like you. Look forward to it Mandy. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, you are such an inspiration! God bless.

  11. Sunni
    November 21, 2014

    When I finally let go of that on/off again relationship of 4 yrs- the one that caused more pain and rejection to my soul than my heart could even bear sometimes… It was only after that… After he shatterred it as you say – one last time… It was only after that – could I recover, heal and move on, could God bring me the love of my life that He has blessed me with. I was so wrapped up in this other person that the pain of not having him – all of him- was normal. When I met the man of my dreams- a normal loving man- who is ALL present, we quickly progressed into the lives we both had dreamed of. He made the effort and we are now married and parenting his two wonderful children together. Not the conventional way of having a family- but they needed a Mom so bad- that they already call me “Mom”. Every day I wake up so thankful & grateful that I finally had enough strength – not on my own but with Gods help- to end that painful going nowhere relationship. I also believe God blocked it from happening – because He knew what was on the other side- my wonderful hot, beautiful man & family. God bless you as you heal from this pain- but do not lose hope- He has the One for you that you seek. You just needed to hit this point on your life first… You may think he shattered it- but no, He did. He has the Other One waiting for you, just around the corner.

    • Sandra
      November 27, 2014


    • Angie
      March 9, 2015

      I love the expression of “you may think he shattered it but no, HE did.” That is so eloquently perfect for my situation. Thank you for the insight.

  12. Kelli
    November 21, 2014

    wow! There’s a person behind these posts??? I’ve never really thought of that – but I have thought of all the wonderful things you’ve written and how they inspire me every day and make me laugh and not feel so alone in this happily married bubble I live in. I’ve been divorced nearly a year now and he still stresses me out nearly every day. Just this morning I was telling my mom that I still deal with all the financial stress he caused, but thank u sweet Jesus he doesn’t walk in through each night too!!! Double whammies. Keep up the great words. Your posts are like none ever. Whitty and original. XO

    • Mandy Hale
      November 26, 2014

      Yep, I am the person behind the posts. 🙂

  13. Amanda Whitmore
    November 21, 2014

    Thank u for the quote and your story that how’s with it.

  14. Nicole
    November 22, 2014

    Thank you Mandy for sharing…I’ve been feeling miserable and insecure waiting for someone who’s afraid of commitment, he tried asking me to go out with him like good old days again 2months after I initiated the split. I gave him a second chance but instead of wanting to take me seriously this time, he withdrew even further and I spend days and nights again waiting for him to finally message me like a miserable dog all over again….I wrote a breakup letter and I wanted to give it to him last Thursday at the end of the date, but in the end I never found the courage to because it was such a beautiful night spent with him. I was crying as he lay asleep on my lap and held my hands that night. I wished time would stand still at that moment and if I could have him by my side a little longer….days passed and the letter still sits expectantly in my bag, waiting for me to finally pluck the courage to let this painful relationship go and for me to move on. I guess I’ll never know how thankful and free I’ll finally be until I do what God and the people who have cared for me has been screaming for me to do: stop waiting, let him go, move on and start living again.

    • Renee
      November 26, 2014

      I did the same thing despite the advice of my family members and friends. I let my ex back in shortly after I broke up with him the first time, hoping he had changed and determined to make it work with him. We had a great last date together in which I forgot all about being mad at him and two days after that, he completely disappeared from my life again. I got tired of waiting by the phone and feeling so miserable and insecure all the time, so I ended it for good at the end of August. And you know what? He showed up 3 months later asking to hang out again but this time I was strong enough to tell him no. It does get easier after awhile and you’re stronger than you know.

    • Sandra
      November 27, 2014

      Stop thinking and just do it!! You WILL come through the other side with God’s help.

    • Kaela
      November 30, 2014

      You don’t wait for someone who thinks twice about you.. You wait for God’s preparation for you.. Meanwhile God is preparing you for him, and this is just one of it.

      PS: you are blessed with great friends who scream at u!

  15. Chara
    November 22, 2014

    Mr. E again?!?!? I’ll beat him up for you. Lol. Thank you for sharing; your blog is such a blessing.

  16. Mattie
    November 24, 2014

    time to move on , I meanREALLY ,move on ,no more looking back ,you are sooooooo right ,it is a “gift”. G-d in his infinite wisdom knew this ,long before I did. oh ‘how grateful I am that he knows what is good for me when I am to weak or blind to see the truth (and the truth does hurt) like hell its hurts . but its real and it makes you open your eyes wide and finally see thru the murcky waters clearly. to be truly “set free” is a gift. thank you Many and thank you my sweet loving Jesus ,that cares for us ,so much more than we care for ourselves

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Something wonderful is on the horizon
Life doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
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Something wonderful is on the horizon
Turn Toward the Sun CoverLife doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
Preorder from Baker Book House for 40% off and free shipping!*
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*US shipping only