November 27, 2013

To bring Him the Hard...and give thanks

Confession:  The last two years I've been one of those snarly cynical people on Facebook who see people jumping on the "30 days of thanks" bandwagon and have thought it was totally dumb.

Why only be thankful one month out of the year?  I'm not doing that, because I am always thankful, my prideful, know-it-all heart would say.  I swore I would never participate as I would rather go against the crowd when things trend like that on Facebook anyway.  I'm such a rebel.

But this year, I felt like my heart needed to ponder gratitude on a more deeper level.  It's been a rocky few months - okay, it's been a rocky several months really.  I've been hurting, I've been angry, I've been busy, I've been struggling, I've been overwhelmed.  Where is the giving of thanks in that?

Jacob.  Work.  Laundry.  My home.  Parenting.  Youth Group.  Hosting my family for Thanksgiving.  Marriage.  Friendships and feeling like I am failing at every one of them.  Finances.  Struggles with food.  Insomnia.  Issues with contempt.  Old hurts.  Feelings of rejection.  And failure.  And hopelessness.  And self-loathing.  Needless to say, all of this - my full plate, my full heart, my full stomach - led to a somewhat massive melt-down.  But afterward, I made a list of some ways I could care for myself.  I reached out to some friends.  I made an appointment to see my counselor.  I had a long talk with Todd.  I sought out some accountability.  I had it out with God one sleepless night.

Of course, my meltdown hit shortly after I decided to commit to this whole 30 days of thanks bit though - talk about a humbling experience.  Lest I sit in shame for quitting in the middle of it, I have forged through.  And ya'll - some days have just been downright hard because I don't feel very thankful for anything.  But a moment, a brief ray of sunshine will happen in my day, and I take notice.

I've been Instagramming my thanksgiving journey.  Taking a picture a day, looking for moments in my regular every day to be thankful for rather than just making a list.  Again, my own rebellious way of doing it and not being like everyone else.  Because I'm Jenn. 

This is probably my favorite so far.  The exploded potato in my oven. 
That day I was thankful for messes.  And for Jesus' unfailing love that always meets me right in the midst of it.  Because He does.  Because He has - every single time.

I've been thinking about this potato and it's mess and how it feels hard to give thanks for what's gone awry and needs tending to.  How it never feels easy to give thanks for the hard, for the painful, and challenging.  I do wonder though what might happen if I thanked God for those things - what might happen to my heart, to my relationship with Him, to my marriage, my friendships if I could thank Him for the hard things in those very moments.

It's maybe more natural to sit around our Thanksgiving tables and thank God for our blessings.  For our homes and jobs and families and health and our good and wonderful abundant things.  And I am deeply grateful for the life I have and the many abundant blessings that surround me.  I wonder though what it might be like to give thanks to God for the hard places.  For my pain and struggles and unmet longings.

This Thanksgiving, this is the place where He has asked me to meet Him.  To bring Him the hard and to give thanks.

So tomorrow, I will bake my pies and clean my house and prepare to host my family for a day of food and laughter and singing and memory-making.  And my hope is that my heart stays in this place of remembering and thanking Him for the things I really don't want to thank Him for.

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