Fall has always been my favorite season—from the array of colors found in the changing leaves to the fresh-picked crisp apples to the coziness of a worn in over-sized sweatshirt. What’s not to love?

We all go through different seasons in life—from the curiosity of childhood to the angst of teenage love to the contentment of adulthood. Again I ask, what’s not to love? Well, a lot. It’s been an interesting 28 years for me. I use the word “interesting” because nothing else quite fits. I’m not sure there’s a word to describe the many different things I’ve experienced.

At the age of 28, I find myself miles from where I’ve come and still more miles than I’d like to admit from the place I’d like to be. I had thought by now I’d have complete healing from my hurtful childhood that the anger and bitterness would long be dissipated. And yet, here I am. Some days feeling MORE angry, MORE hurt, and MORE bitter.

Then, there’s my singleness to contend with. My high school sweetheart married to the skinny, young, French woman he met while teaching in the romantic European city. He turned from Jesus long ago, and labels himself an atheist. From all outward appearances—he appears blessed. The woman, the job, the life. Or most painful of all, the amazing man I was blessed to love and be loved by has been dead six long years. All of our dreams for the future buried in a grave in the hills of Pennsylvania.

It doesn’t seem fair. And when you look at it like that—it doesn’t seem like much to be thankful for, but I am.

I’m thankful that I experienced a childhood that daily brought me to the arms of Jesus. I lived in constant fear, but I learned to cling to a God who never left. Through every tear, every suicidal thought, every hurtful word He was there drawing me closer to Himself. I learned early on that I could only depend on Him and that He would take care of me.

I’m thankful for the one that got away because it made room for God to bring a man who would show me what genuine faith and unconditional love looked like. Instead of slyly crafted put downs I was lavished with kindness and accepted for who I am. He never asked me to change my appearance, but treasured my gifts and the person God made me to be. And I may still be single, but I’d rather be single than wishing I were.

And some days, not always, I am thankful that in the midst of losing the man I thought I’d spend my forever with that God brings me hope and renewed dreams. God had allowed me to go places and serve in ways that I never imagined possible. He’s brought me friends and family who walk beside me in the valley of the shadow of death and laughed with me while on Cloud 9. I may not be where I had hoped, but I’m thankful for this season. For this time. It’s not always pretty or fun or pain free, but I get to walk through it with a God who knows my most intimate and deepest thoughts and loves me anyway. What’s not to love about that?

 Holly Hrywnak is 28 year old with a dream to write more. She is currently addicted to Nutella, Matthew MacFadyen movies and Pinterest. Her other interests include serving at youth camps and a regional young adult group in her area. Most importantly, she loves Jesus. 

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