Thanks for Nothing

Woman giving a "thanks for nothing" look
You’ve heard the phrase, “Thanks for nothing.” It’s generally said in a decidedly unthankful way, and is meant to convey bitterness, even contempt, toward someone who has disappointed us, or when we’ve been denied something we want.

As Thanksgiving is upon us, I’ve naturally been thinking about thankfulness. Without a doubt, I have many things to be thankful for.

But I started thinking about the things I don’t have. The things I’ve been denied. And I’m thankful for those, too.

My dream in high school was to attend Yale University. In everything I did, I labored to meet that goal: I got good grades. I joined weird clubs. I excelled in music. I even took AP Physics (ugh) as an elective. After making it through the application process and undergoing a rigorous interview by a Yale alum, I was turned down.

Looking back, it was one of the best rejections I’ve ever received. Because of that closed door, I went to a Christian liberal arts college, and through my classes, Bible studies and the godly example of my roommate, Renee, I recognized my obsession with self (which continues, but at least I’m aware of it) and reconnected with the Lord in a powerful way. I also saved a bunch of money on tuition, traveled internationally, made lifelong friends and learned how to channel my gift of gab into something useful.

God let my dad die of cancer nine years ago. But in this loss, I gained an understanding of grief as well as a front-row seat for a display of God’s immeasurable love. And Dad gained heaven. I don’t begrudge him his early departure.

I’ve had romantic relationships fail that would’ve been disastrous had they ended in marriage. I may not know why I’m still single, but I sure know why I’m not married to some of the guys I dated.

I let a dream job in another state pass me by. I questioned my decision. But several months later, I joined a crazy ministry called Boundless.

The list goes on. Failures, disappointments, losses – all things that seemed devastating at the time, but now go on my growing list of things to be thankful for.

What are the things you’re thankful you don’t have? Are you thankful for nothing, in the best sense of the phrase? Today more than ever, we can recognize how God is good in what He gives and in what He takes away.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you love!

[You’ll see part of this post show up in this week’s e-newsletter. Most weeks, the e-newsletter is a place to get my musings on the sacred or incredibly ordinary — stuff I don’t put on the blog or elsewhere. If you’re not already a subscriber, sign up here.]

 

About the Author

Lisa Anderson

Lisa Anderson is the director of Boundless and young adults at Focus on the Family and hosts The Boundless Show, a national radio program and podcast. She loves connecting with single young adults and strategizing how to better equip them for life, relationships and a faith that goes the distance; she does not love managing budgets or signing contracts, but realizes that’s part of her job, too. Lisa can often be heard at conferences and on radio and TV, getting worked up about dating, relationships, faith and hip-hop. She grew up in San Jose, California, is a graduate of Trinity International University in Chicago, and spent a good chunk of her life in media relations before joining Boundless. She runs to counterbalance her love of pastries and chicken tikka masala, and often quotes her mom, who’s known to say outrageous things. She’s the author of The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan for Pursuing Marriage with Purpose (David C. Cook). Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaCAnderson.