I can sense that things are changing for us, for our family. Circumstantially. Things are also changing nationally, economically, politically, I know. We will see more change right after election day. But Bill and I are seeing a fork in the road for our own immediate situation. Our lifestyle of piecing together a living through carpentry jobs (Bill), bits of speaking and writing (me), house renovation and resale (which is every two-three years or so)- this pieced-together quilt of a lifestyle has been useful but its about reached its end.
Sometimes you can just sense that change is imminent. Often this terrifies us, but sometimes its a very peaceful perspective- because God has been whispering this to you for a while now, and you are not surprised that a change is coming. I'm so thankful that He prepares me for what's ahead. Even if I don't feel prepared, I am prepared. I tell myself that a lot now. I am prepared by Him, I say to myself, and I feel so thankful in a whole new way.
See, I never really understood what Thankfulness was. I had been trained in some Biblical and bizarre thinking when I was a child growing up in the Church. There were wonderful but wacky people in my life (and I say that respectfully cause I am often wacky myself)- and these people were trying their darnedest to live right, please God, walk by faith, be thankful. Its just that they were having trouble with understanding thankfulness as well. Thankfulness was a conundrum of piety, gratefulness, guilt, and fear. Fear that you weren't thankful enough. Guilt that maybe you hadn't said it enough. Piety- because you were saying "Thank you Lord" all the time, as if checking it off a list of To Do's. This was the common thinking of Being Thankful that I first grasped: it was by an act of your will, not really a response of gratitude.
One way to be thankful was to thank God for everything- and I do mean everything. The thinking was to give thanks "in all things" and that meant thanking God for every trial and trouble and bashing you might have received. Literally. "Lord I thank you that I got fired from my job, cause You must have a reason" was what your prayer should be if that just happened to you. As a child, it didn't make sense to me. And as an adult, it still didn't make sense to thank God for cancer ravaging someone, thank God for a fire that burned your house down.
One dear woman I knew battled anxiety so much she used to tremble just talking to you. But she was determined to thank God for everything and in everything. She loved ministering to children, and she used to lead them in this exercise before they got to the fun part of singing. The exercise was this: say "Praise the Lord" ten times in a row, real fast, with a smile on your face. And the kids would do this-as well as the parents sitting in the back of the room. What were we praising Him for? Nothing in particular at that moment. But by George, we were praising Him, we were thanking Him. Even if we said it in a rush. Even if she led it with jittery arms and a frantic look on her face because she was fighting anxiety that day.
But then I too have had those days where things are so scary and tense that all I could do was say "Thank you Lord. Praise you Lord" over and over like a mantra, trying to calm my spirit and appease a God who I thought needed to hear my thankfulness over and over. But I don't think He was really that pleased with how I said it, or that I said it over and over. I think what God saw was a woman who was trying to connect to Him through that awful cloud of fear and darkness that sometimes threatens to get between us and Him.
Does God care that I'm thanking Him if I don't feel thankful, if I'm just doing it because I know I should be thankful? I think what He may be after is having us learn to see and discern what the reality of our blessed state is- and then we would truly be thankful, if we saw this truth in an eye-opening revelation. Maybe He's after my eyes being opened- instead of my mouth being opened and declaring words of thankfulness because I know I should be- even if I'm not.
These last couple days I've suddenly seen the reality of my blessed state. Really seen it. I feel the love my husband has for me. I see how my daughter glows with excitement for life and learning. I hear from my son that he's working out in the weight room and that his muscles are growing and he is strong. I see my own body and I can walk and pick up things and I have hands that can stroke my daughter's long hair and arms that can hug people. I have a mind that is active and alert. (You know how active it is). I get to learn new things. I get to discover new truths. Isn't that incredible?
I have just begun to open my eyes to these things. And so maybe I have really just begun to learn what thankfulness is. Yes, this lesson started when I first realized that enough is enough, that I can be satisfied. But now the lesson is progressing to me realizing that I have more than enough. More than enough strength and more than enough preparation for whatever changes lie ahead. And now in this very tense time we're in, I'm thanking God... for a change.