As another Thanksgiving Day comes to an end, I find myself full of Thanksgiving! I’m not full of Thanksgiving dinner…although we did eat, rather I’m full of true thanksgiving for life and all that the experiences that it has afforded me. This year, I decided to fix dinner for my Dad’s family. Lucky for me, my parents decided to help me out with completing this monumental task! Contrary to what I was expecting, I had a blast fixing dinner…we were all up bright and early getting things in order. My dad fixed our turkey on his new rotisserie (it was amazing…that will be the only way I eat turkey in the future), and I busied myself finishing up our desserts, sides, and fixing our Thanksgiving ham. This year’s Thanksgiving was different, but so very special. This was our first year without Mom Putt, which was hard if for no other reason because she was such a fixture in our family. She was the glue that kept us all together. But, every time our family gathers these days, my heart smiles because even in her death, we’ve found a way to stay as connected as ever. I’m so thankful for this because in some cases, I’m clear that death creates distance, but this has not been the case for us. If I had nothing else to rejoice about in my life, this alone would be enough to be thankful.
But the truth is I’ve got so many things to be thankful for in my life. During this month, I’ve been updating my Facebook status daily with a statement of thanks. These things have ranged from being thankful for life and a job, to being thankful for biological and acquired family members, to being thankful for life’s challenges. You see, what I’ve learned in this past year of my life is the importance of being thankful for ALL things. I’ve not always found it easy to be thankful and rejoice when things weren’t going so well in my life…I’ve gladly participated in my share of self-pity and loathing over the years, but this past year God has proven to me that He is with me in every season of my life. He has shown me that despite my declared need to be in control of my own destiny, He is truly in control and knows what needs to happen in my life, just when it needs to happen. He has shown me the importance of patience, He has shown me the value of trusting Him fully with my life, He has shown me that if I’ll just do those two things – be patient and trust – He will open up windows and doors that I did not even know existed all so He can bless my life. Just to think, a year ago, I was miserable in my job, submitting applications on almost a weekly basis, dreading getting up and heading to the office every single day of the work week. I was angry with God…I couldn’t understand why He would not allow a door to open for me in my professional life…I was clear that I was beyond competent for the jobs to which I had submitted applications, but nothing opened up. I tweaked resume after resume, I went in for job interviews, I sent follow-up e-mails, I did what I considered to be all of the right things, but NOTHING opened up for me. I was angry and frustrated, but in God’s timing, He opened up a window and poured out a blessing in my life that I didn’t even want. And now I’m in a job that I absolutely love…that’s only God, and that’s a reason to be thankful.
Similarly, about a year ago, the Lord brought an amazing friend into my life…and as life would have it…within a few months of meeting him, life threw yet another wrench, and it became clear that this friend was going to be moving out of the area for reasons beyond his control. Anger with God is an understatement for what I was feeling about the situation. Given the not so great ending to my previous relationship, I was rather bothered that God would bring a great guy into my life and then take him away almost quicker than I could blink my eye. I was irritated, but even in that situation, I was able to dig deep down and find a reason to rejoice. You see, the Lord brought this friend in my life just before I found out my grandmother was terminally ill. And it turns out that he was a wonderful friend during my time of grief…without thinking twice, he made himself available to be my sounding board. This brotha offered me words of comfort and scripture, and was just there. He also showed me how to respond with the compassion of Christ to life’s many challenges. Despite losing his job in a seemingly unfair manner, this friend showed genuine love to those who betrayed. His response when people asked him about his situation was simply, “This is clearly God’s will for his life…while he didn’t understand it, he accepted it.” And if his response weren’t enough, this friend had enough courage to move across the world because he felt God calling him to do a work in a developing country. So, despite this great brotha only being physically present in my life for a season, he taught me so many things…compassion, agape love, and “all-in” faith…and for these lessons, I’m thankful.
I could continue with examples of why I’m full of Thanksgiving, but it really all boils down to this…over the past year of my life, I’ve grown to a place where I’ve learned to give thanks in all things. I’ve finally learned that there are lessons and blessings to be found in every life experience, both good and bad. The enemies of my former job taught me to function with more integrity, they taught me to be more observant of my surroundings, and they even taught me the value of appreciating those individuals who genuinely want to support me. My friend who is now many miles away taught me that there are wonderful people in this world whose hearts are genuine…he taught me to trust again, he showed me that I can open up and share my life with folks and not be hurt in return, and he also showed me what it truly means to be a follower of Christ.
So, I’ll end this post as I began it. Tonight, I’m full of thanksgiving…not thanksgiving dinner, but thanksgiving for the blessings that this life has offered me. I’m so thankful for the joy and peace that I have. I’m thankful for the new season of my life that is in front of me. I’m thankful because I know that my best and brightest days are yet ahead of me.
Until next time, find a reason to be thankful!