This year as the week of Thanksgiving approached I started to realize that I don’t really have a lot of memories of Thanksgiving as a child. I have a memory of the traditional food my mother always made, that continues to adorn our family Thanksgiving table, and watching the Macy’s Day Parade with my dad…but no memories of the meal, preparations or ‘giving thanks’ traditions. I know some people really gather around the table with the premise of ‘giving thanks’ around their tables. I think that is super sweet. I too am thankful for the people who will be around our table, and those who won’t be this year that will be missed.
I imagine if we went around our Thanksgiving table and shared what we are thankful for I would hear things like, “my family”, “my spouse”, “my job”, “my parents”, “living in a free country”…you get the point. But through this season or holiday of giving thanks I am reminded of all the things I have started counting as blessings that years before I may not have, or while going through I may not have. As I finalize preparations for our meal, I realize that if I were in that position of having to state what I am truly thankful for people may give me a sideways glance.
Of course I am thankful for my family, my amazing parents, my out of this world dedicated, doting, loving husband, my four amazing children who are all so different they keep me guessing all day everyday. I am thankful for the means to be able to provide a feast for our families. But what I am most thankful for are all the stumbling blocks in my journey. All the yucky life stuff. All the ‘why me’ stuff. All the ‘waiting moments’, the ‘how will I get through this’, ‘not again’ moments. Through this journey I call my life, I have learned to dwell in a place of thankfulness…it’s not always an easy place to hang out in. But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us this, “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Let’s sit there a minute…ALL circumstances. It does not say, give thanks when things are going great and you feel awesome and everyone in your house is getting along and the sun is shining and you get a new car! No because those are the times it’s easy to be thankful.
I am thankful for the pain of broken relationships.
I am thankful for the hurt of tragic moments in childhood.
I am thankful for the years walked in financial difficulty.
I am thankful for failed career paths.
I am thankful for times of feeling alone.
I am thankful for years of undiagnosed health issues.
There are of course specifics I could detail, but they aren’t important, what is important is how I have chosen to be thankful for those opportunities. We often look at the word opportunities as an option, something we choose. Obviously this isn’t the case. Its easy to sit and look at others and feel as though everyone else has it better, bigger, easier. When we really sit in a place of being real, which is real community, pull our walls down and dwell with others, we realize that everyone has the same stuff, just a little different. You may be walking through one of the most difficult times of your life right now. You may be entering into one and not know it yet or you may be just on the other side of huge tragedy. I have walked in these places, not your places, those are yours, but I have walked mine. I have learned how to become thankful for the storms God has allowed in my life. I am thankful He has given me the strength to get through them. I am thankful He has perfectly aligned people who have helped me grown in Truth through it all.
I guess my true thankfulness in all those circumstances is that it all has brought me closer to Jesus. A relationship with Jesus isn’t easy. Being a Christian isn’t easy. It has brought me a peace I cannot describe. But there isn’t too much I am more thankful for in this lifetime of mine.