Thanksgiving is almost here, and all around the country families and friends will sit around a table and enjoy a feast. At many of those tables, the conversation will turn to sharing things we’re thankful for, a tradition as ingrained in our Thanksgiving culture as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or turkeys receiving presidential pardons (without question the strangest of our Thanksgiving rites).
As we reflect on this year and celebrate all the things we are grateful for, most of the items on our lists will be typical: Family. Friends. Food. Maybe football.
But this past year brought us more than rosy moments, and there will be experiences we leave off our lists. Personally, I can think of three things I’d rather not be thankful for.
As great as this year has been, and as much as I’m thankful for what God has brought me to and brought me through, I’m still not where I thought I would be in my late 20s. I never thought I’d still be single, childless, and writing this post from my room in my parents’ house.
None of us can completely write the script for our lives. There is just too much beyond our control. Whether we’re frustrated about relationships that went nowhere or life events we counted on that haven’t made their appearance yet, that frustration is real. The disappointment is real. This is not what I thought my life would be.
So I’m not where I thought I’d be. What do I do now? What do I do next? For me, even more frustrating than not having complete control of my own life script is not knowing what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. I’m not sure what ministry to be involved in or what small group to join or what friends to seek out, and these years keep flying right by me while I’m stuck, spinning my wheels.
I don’t want to waste my life – or even this season – but figuring out God’s will for my time right now has not been easy. Instead of getting plugged into a ministry and joining my energy and time with others’, I feel like I just keep doing donuts on the proverbial track.
I could have started my day at work early except I had to scrape the ice off my windshield. I would have finished everything on my list at work except for the last-minute tasks someone asked me to do. I could be so much nicer if people never changed my plans.
Every day I’m irritated by little things, reminding me I’m not as far along in the sanctification department as I’d like to think.
So Much to Gain
Disappointments. Uncertainty. Annoyances. These are real frustrations and real hurts, and they are not what I would choose. These are things I would leave out of my life script if I could.
These are not things I add to my thankful list.
But without disappointments, uncertain days and annoyances, I would never realize how much I try to rely on myself instead of God. I would never have any reason to learn to trust God with my life and with my relationships with others. I would never have any reason to seek Him – I would be too busy enjoying my perfect life. I would never know – really know – that I can be energized and fulfilled even without a dream-come-true life.
Why only give thanks for what we want to get? Maybe leaving these things off our thankful list blinds us to seeing all we gain from what we never wanted. (Lisa shares more about this here.)
More Than I Could Ask
“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
As I think about this past year and the new year that starts very soon, I could make a list of the things I want to happen in my life. But that list wouldn’t make any of my wishes become reality.
Even if nothing on my list happens, God will give me other experiences that will grow and change me in ways I never thought possible. He will show me more about myself and more about Him than I ever knew.
I can be thankful for that.
Copyright 2018 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.