On Thursday we will bustle about kitchens, trying not to burn the stuffing again this year, laughing at parade balloons and yelling at bad calls. We will smack curious hands out of the pumpkin pie, while sneaking a bite when no one is looking. We will smile politely at that one dish that Aunt So and so brings, the one she brings every year. The one everyone takes the smallest spoonful of, as to not hurt her feelings. The kids don’t share that sentiment, they loudly proclaim it as “gross!” We will eat and eat and eat some more among claims of starting a diet over on Monday. We will sit around tables and talk of thankfulness. This year, I will wipe my eyes and think about my precious friend who will attend a funeral for her beautiful baby sister. This morning I prayed for her and said “Thank You Daddy, thank You that You promised to make all things right.”
So many times I can say what I am thankful for as if I’m reading a list of ingredients off of a well rehearsed recipe. My husband, kids, my friends, family, my church, physical provision, health, etc etc. It’s not that I don’t mean it. It’s that just like loving people who are good to you is easy, being thankful for these precious gifts is easy. But am I saying “thank you for giving these gifts to me” or am I saying “thank you for giving these gifts to me right now” Would I still praise and thank Him if He chose to take them? Or would I change my name to Mara and believe I’d been forgotten? (Ruth 1:20) If I lost my husband today, could I say through blinding tears, “thank You for giving me 18 years with him. It was 18 years more than I deserved. Help me to be faithful with whatever time You choose to give me now.”
So let me stop and think about the other things I am thankful for, the messy and dark. The things that prove He keeps His promises to make things right, to reform smashed clay into works of art.
Regret. When I look backwards at missed opportunities, broken relationships, hurtful words and actions, I long to be able to go back and change it. Regret feels like that dream, you know, the one where you want to run but your feet just won’t move? You know something bad is going to happen but you just can’t stop it.
Thank You for regret. It teaches me that You are the healer of mistakes. It reminds me that almost all of my growth has come from pain. It encourages me to live more thoughtfully. Regret’s sadness makes me close my eyes and remember that our lives here are a vapor.
Jealousy and Ambition. That sick feeling of wanting more, of feeling unappreciated and insecure. The bitter thoughts of measuring yourself next to others. The subtleties of putting others down to get ahead.
Thank you for jealousy. Without this feeling, I’d never be forced to examine my identity and explore who I am to You. Thank You that for every moment of insecurity is a chance to feel Your arms around me, holding tight and reminding me Who I belong to.
Fear. That grip on my heart that tells me- you are on your own. The what if, the silence of waiting for an answer. Looking over the cliff of decisions and knowing that jumping is the only way forward. The choice to trust myself and believe that He’s too busy to pay attention.
Thank You for allowing me to choose trust by allowing me to experience fear. Thank You for not coming to my rescue the moment I demand it, so that I am able to watch your creativity in provision.
Grief. The ocean, where breathing takes concentration and you can’t separate your tears from anyone else’s. Searching for words to answer unanswerable questions. Hearts torn open and memories flood out, drowning the pain for a moment, but it always returns.
Oh Father. I’m thankful for pain because of how sweet it makes hope. Thank you for the hope that the ones who know and follow You have. It’s the hope that keeps us breathing and watching for You. The grief softens my hard edges so I am able to mourn with others. The grief reminds me of how small I am and how big You are.
I give thanks because I have this hope that He will keep His promise to make all things right. Because someday…
There will be no regret.
We will stand, fully secure in Who we belong to.
Fear will evaporate.
Sisters will be reunited.
Hearts will be made whole.