What I’m sharing with you today is actually something I wrote back in November but never got around to posting (because as you’ll read in the post – 2.5 year old and 6 month old waking us up every hour). I reread it this afternoon and it was such a great reminder to me. I hope you find it helpful as well.
Our life sometimes feels like one busy season after another, split apart only by a week or two of semi calm. My to do list feels like it is constantly growing yet we are still saying no to a lot of things and in a constant state of “purging” both our commitments and possessions in an attempt to simplify our life. The reality is that our life is not simple. Raising two children is far from simple, especially when those children are 2 years old and 6 months old and rob you of sleep on a daily basis. Teaming together and working in ministry isn’t simple. And our dreams are certainly not simple. Dreams of creating community, of being a part of lives changing, and being generous in ways we couldn’t imagine – none of those are very simple. On paper, yes, it may seem to be, but our hearts are so invested and so involved in all of the things we are doing and I think it is safe to say that of all things – our hearts are especially not so simple.
My sister in law recently asked me to do join her in a 12 day devotional series on Thanksgiving. Boy, did my heart need it. Because in our chaotic and crazy and currently very much challenging life I’ve stopped recognizing the gifts and only focused on the hard. My heart was building resentment towards God, and I know that in the grand scheme of things my problems were small and there are people who have much bigger issues. Still though, the thoughts flooded my heart and my mind, How could a God who cares and loves me and wants me to be a sane and good mom let me go another night on so little sleep? How could a God who cares not give an answer to my begging and pleas for help? For a break?
This is the life that God has given us. He gave us these dreams, these gifts, these children, this job and all of the responsibilities that come with each of those things.
He also gave us other things, though.
Like a window that overlooks beautiful trees and a river.
How beautiful is it that God would place my husband in a place where every single day we get to look at things we both have loved since we were young?
He gave us this two year old boy who is so unbelievably stubborn and so incredibly talented and who gives us an amount of joy we could have never thought possible – even though the responsibility we have in raising him up to be a man of integrity weighs on our hearts every single day.
He gave us a 6 month old whose smile could make even the hardest of hearts soften and who forces us to stop and just sit and be with her. Those moments where we are forced to stop what we are doing and stop being productive and just sit and rock with her those moments are gifts.
The reality is, my heart is not always thankful and as we finished this study I have realized that thanksgiving is a choice and a discipline that I need to practice more. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) My initial reaction to the chaos of our life is rarely thanksgiving. But if giving thanks in all circumstances is his will for me then I really don’t think that practicing giving thanks on a daily (and sometimes multiple times a day) basis is something that I can ignore. This means that I give thanks even when after praying for a full night of sleep I am woken every hour by my 6 month old. It means giving thanks even when God doesn’t give me what I want. That’s hard, you guys. When I am sobbing to my husband and asking him why God isn’t answering and why he doesn’t care, he gently reminds me of this truth: God is good. And with that truth in hand I have a choice. I can choose to resent God for all of the things I don’t have or I can thank him for all of the things that he has given me. You know, the things that matter (like salvation). And I can thank Him for providing me with moments in my life that magnify the weaknesses of my heart (like not truly trusting in Him).
Thanksgiving is not easy. It isn’t always fun. But it has always provided me with joy. I am very thankful that I am given an entire month to remind me to give thanks to my Creator and to give Him praise for who He is, not just for what He has given to me.