I guess since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I should write a post about what I am thankful for. I’ve struggled all week to write something, and I don’t know why it never occurred to me to write about Thanksgiving. Well, actually, that isn’t entirely true. It’s hard to be thankful when you are sick and have a pulled muscle and you want to wallow in self-pity.
Lots of folks have been posting as their daily status on Facebook something that they are thankful for. I guess it’s supposed to be done for each day of November. Half the time, I don’t even post a status anymore. But I digress, and am already getting off topic.
This year I am thankful for the trials I have been through for about the past 5 years. One normally isn’t thankful for having their dad die, their mom to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, 2 back-to-back job problems, 2 teenagers with issues (likely stemming from their parent’s issues), and an alcoholic spouse who had to go to rehab. Who in their right mind would be thankful for stuff like that? Let me tell you, each and every one of those situations sucked big time! There have been times that I wanted to just run away, and times (like late last year) that I was so depressed that I wanted to die. (Note: I was not suicidal. There is a BIG difference.) But each of these things in their own unique ways brought about much needed changes in my life.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3 ESV)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 ESV)
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV)
Each of the events increasingly broke down my emotional barriers and showed how much of my life I had spent controlling or avoiding situations around me in order to keep the barriers up and to fortify them. Little by little, and painfully the control issues, the emotional stuffing, and what I thought was long buried insecurity all busted out and tore me down to a state much like I was as a pre-teen. Broken and undone. But this time around, I couldn’t just go through the motions and perform like I was so (in my mind anyway) adept at as a kid. Daddy didn’t set his affairs in order before he died because he was a control freak. Yeah, that would be where I get it. Mom started showing signs of Alzheimer’s soon after Daddy’s stroke, but even more so when he died. I still had to work. I couldn’t check out from parenting. And I couldn’t check out from my marriage. I couldn’t just cope with all these issues; I had to actually work through them. Oh, and also during this time, I had a LOT of sin to face and repent of that I had fallen into while wrapped up in my self-righteousness.
In my brokenness, I had only one place to turn, and that was to God. The worse things got, the more I was driven to him, and that is why I am thankful for the trials. I learned after many many years to actually trust God. I learned to open up to close friends about my struggles so they could pray for me and help me through them. So, yeah, I am thankful for the trials that are beginning to get me out of self-reliance and into God-reliance.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)