"Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations."
I'm struggling with how to start this post. So I guess I'll begin by admitting that. Today, Thanksgiving, has been a day of conflicting emotions, joy, pain, regret, love... and I'm having a hard time arranging my thoughts into a coherent idea. But I suppose that makes sense in a season that is anything but easy to understand.
Let's start here-
Today is a day of thankfulness. A day when we all stop to count our blessings, tell those we love how grateful we are for them, and profess the goodness of the Lord to all people. Which is awesome. Thankfulness is something I am working on cultivating, because I won't let my heart grow bitter and cold due to circumstances beyond my control. My heart is my responsibility, and God has called me to be thankful, to praise Him, to bless His name.
So how do we do all of that when our worlds crumble around us? It's a lesson God is leading me through daily. One I certainly haven't figured out yet, and I am sure it will be ongoing for the entirety of my life. But today, on my first holiday without my husband by my side, I realized one aspect of living a thankful life is to actively choose it. Today could have been miserable; my husband is in another state with our daughter, enjoying time without me, and I miss them both. A lot. It feels wrong to go through the festivities of the day without them. Unnatural. It feels worse that he doesn't seem to share my sadness about the broken state of things today. That certainly had the potential to knock me off of my feet. But it hasn't.
Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly grieved that we all didn't get to enjoy this day together. I'm grieved that we are continuing down this path of brokenness and sin and pain. I'm grieved that my son had to experience his first ever Thanksgiving without his father there to see him shovel sweet potatoes and stuffing into his smiley little mouth. I'm beyond grieved that the man I love is somewhere 8 hours away, enjoying sweet time with our daughter without me. I feel all of it, acutely, but it won't push me under.
God is doing something really amazing in my heart. And it's totally God, because it's not anything that comes even remotely naturally to me. He is teaching me how to be thankful even in the midst of loss and uncertainty. He's teaching me how to lean on Him, call on Him, and bless His name in the midst of the storm. He is leading me gently and lovingly to a place where He is most important. I wish I'd been obedient enough to learn all of those things without having something so incredibly important to me stripped away, but whatever it takes, He's after my heart.
The Lord loves my marriage. Marriage is important to Him. He created it as a way to show, on a very small scale, what the sacrificial love of the father looks like towards us. It is meant to show the faithfulness of the Lord. The selfless love He has for us. That's how He designed marriage to look. He never meant for husbands and fathers to walk away from their families. He never designed it with the caveat that if we found ourselves in hard times it would be ok to seek comfort in another person that wasn't our spouse. He never designed it to be impermanent. It must grieve Him to see His plan perverted and broken. But we are fallen. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Fallen short of His perfect design. Fallen short even of the ideals we elevate above all others in our own lives.
So while the Lord loves my marriage, He also loves my heart. He loves my broken, messy, grieving, angry, selfish heart. And in the midst of this season of loss, I've also truly gained so much. Unfortunately, it seems easiest to lose sight of the goodness of God when things are simple, happy, and going according to plan. We feel like we did something to earn the good times, you know? We may not start out that way, but eventually our fallen hearts tell us to pat ourselves on the back, because we have got this figured out! God becomes an afterthought. A sunday priority. A little less real. But when the earth is shaking around us, we find out where our hearts truly lie. Do we rage against the Lord when calamity strikes, or do we cry out to Him and ask for His presence and aid? Do we hide our face from our Father, or do we lift it to Him, tear-streaked and puffy though it may be?
If you're anything like me, it's not always either or. Sometimes I rage. But mostly, by the grace of my Father's goodness and heart for me, I have turned to Him. I have lifted my eyes and my hands and asked Him to be my everything. Seriously, none of that is meant to say how awesome and holy and spiritual I am. It's to say that God is so good. He gives me the ability to look to Him. He brings friends, family members, and community around me to speak truth over me when I feel hopeless and discouraged. He plays songs on the radio that answer prayers just uttered. He gives me peace and strength to keep going. He is so good. Today, there is so much more to be thankful for than there are things to be angry about. I am thankful that I have a God who cares for my heart. Who uses even the crappiest of circumstances to remind me how faithful He is. How trustworthy He is. Especially when trust is a big struggle for me right now. He loves my heart. He heals it little by little. He binds my wounds. He gives me hope.
So today, on a Thanksgiving full of loss, I can also begin to see all that I am gaining. That the Lord is using this time to draw me into Him in a way that I have avoided for so many years. The Lord is healing my broken heart, but He is also using the deep cuts where I have been injured to begin to chip away at the hardness I'd let build up. He has good things for me. I trust and know that He does.
I will not let the devil steal my joy. I will not let him rob me of my thankfulness. My God is bigger than what is happening in my marriage right now. My God is bigger than the anger and pain I struggle with daily. My God is working all things for my good, because I love Him and He loves me. Certainly I have ideas and hopes and prayers for how I hope that "good" looks, but I'm learning to be thankful and trust Him even in uncertainty. That's a big deal for me. I hate uncertainty. But I love God more.
So happy Thanksgiving. My prayer is that you would know and see the provision and goodness of the Lord today, and always. It's always there. Even when everything seems hopeless. Maybe especially when everything seems hopeless. That's something to be thankful for.