So… you know those days when you wake up and something stupid happens and you just know you’re going to have one of “those days”?? “Those days” when just one little thing goes wrong and decides to tell all the other little things to go wrong and there you have the saying…”When it rains, it pours.”? Well yesterday was one of “those days” for me. You have all these expectations for the day to come. All these hopes and desires….You even say to yourself…”Today is going to be a good day!!” However, yesterday decided it was going to do things a little differently.
I woke up to Eisley (my 2 year old) waking up Nora (my one year old) at 6am. Now if you know Nora she is a brute. She loves food, loves to stomp around, loves to grunt, and loves to wrestle. She’s a tough cookie, but when it comes to teething and sleep she is a diva. She needs her beauty sleep or she will not be your best friend. So knowing that Eisley decided to wake up her baby sister very early in the morning already sets me in a mood. I’m angry, I’m frustrated, and I am not in the mood to “deal” with a cranky baby all day. So this stinks! First emotions I feel to start off my day… not a good start. I go down stairs to get Eisley some Milk. Grab the carton and the cap was barely on… so I go to pour, and yup, milk everywhere. I definitely teared up over spilled milk. Clean it all up and send my child to the couch to watch some cartoons. Ok I can breathe. Shortly after, cranky Nora gets up and after breakfast we all decide to go for our first family bike ride. Mike has been dying to go on this bike trail by our house so we venture out. Now it’s already 90 degrees and its really hilly around our neighborhood… so after 20 min of riding up hills, sweating through my shirt, Nora crying because her helmet keeps falling in her eyes and no luck in finding the trail.. we give up and go home. Bummer. After a long while of a crying baby and a testy 2 year old it’s finally nap time and we settle them in which should last for at least a couple of hours. Finally peace. Well not exactly. Eisley wakes up 45 min later with a poopy diaper and wakes up her sister yet again! I was so upset. More upset than I should have been. Grab the kids, Mikes busy in the yard, and sit down on the couch practically crying with them. We decide to walk over to this little place by us for dinner… I’m sweaty and gross from the busy day, hadn’t had a chance to shower, wearing scrubby clothes with probably poop and milk on them… and Mike precedes to tell me that we are meeting some new friends for dinner. What?!!!? Have you seen what I look like? Have you seen the mood Im in?? Have you noticed our children who may not be children after all… but wild african safari type animals?? Well, we went through with the dinner and ended up having a lovely time. As we laid our children in bed that night we had Eisley pray like she usually does and I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed about her prayers before. She only thanks God in her prayers. She starts every prayer with “Fodder…Thank you for Dadda, thank you for Mamma…” She thanks Him for everything from her family, herself, to her toys in the bathtub. It got me thinking.. did I thank God at all today??
It’s so easy for me to thank Him when everything is going right. When everyone has a smile on their face, the milk pours nicely, the sun is shining, my makeup looks good, the kids are sitting quietly reading books and playing hopscotch in the yard while an ice cream truck man drives by with a smile and a wave (just a daydream ;)) My heart is thanking Him in the good moments. But why would I thank Him in the chaos and when everything goes wrong? What’s there to be thankful for? Even deeper than that… why would I thank Him in the struggles, in the hurt, in the pain and in the confusion? Why would a good God allow certain things to happen to me? It’s a hard pill to swallow and an even harder pill to believe that God is good even in the pain and hard days. He not only is good, but He is sovereign and it is when we thank Him in the midst of our trials that we begin to see things from a different perspective. A godly perspective. “One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.”- Saint John of Avila
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Kelly, you just don’t know what I’m going through. If you knew how hard my life is and the struggles that I’m facing you wouldn’t thank God either.” And ya know… you’re right. I don’t know exactly how you feel. I don’t know your family life and your bitter circumstances. But I do know how it feels to feel wronged by God. I do know how it feels to be angry, depressed and alone. And I would be lying if I said that in those times I was thanking God. But that doesn’t excuse me, or you, from doing it. Even though I struggle with thanking Him in the midst of pain, I also know that there is something mysterious that happens when you do. A sense of peace, a sense of awareness that God is good and He knows what He’s doing. A sense of humbleness as we lay down our pride. It’s trust and it’s freeing, to let go of all the crap and hold on to His promises that all point to Him being a good God. We may never figure it out and understand the ways of God… but we have the power to live this life fully and with joy in our hearts when we LEARN to thank Him even when it seems all wrong. So why don’t we? I was asking myself why I wouldn’t choose to be thankful if I knew that it would bring joy and peace. And here’s my honest answer. I would say it’s because it kinda feels good to be mad. As if being mad brings justice. This terrible thing happens to me and I am allowed to be upset. I have the right to be angry at God and I have the right to feel the way I do. What is that?? Pride? Undeserving? Selfishness? Whatever it is… it’s not any way to live a life. We get to live. And we can live being mad at God because we believe we deserve something better. Or we can lay down our pride and accept it as grace and trust Him which we will one day look back and never regret. I don’t want to miss out on joy because of my pride. Hear me out..It’s ok to be sad when bad things happen to you… please understand that. We need to feel in order to be healed. But we can also be thankful when we’re sad. Because we are not made for this world. We live for something bigger than us. And there is a speechless beauty that we will one day bestow when God takes us home. All the tears will be wiped away and there will be no more sorrow. But for today… God gives us grace to live fully in the midst of our circumstances. We just have to be thankful.
In her book, “One Thousand Gifts,” Ann Voskamp makes the case that ingratitude is actually the very root of sin.
“The first sin of all humanity is the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave. Our fall was, has always been and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. God’s intent, since He bent low and breathed His life into the dust of our lungs, since He kissed us into being, has never been to slyly orchestrate our ruin. And yet I open the Bible and His plans lie there barefaced. “His secret purpose framed from the very beginning is to bring us to our full glory” (1 Cor. 2:7) He means to rename us- to return us to our true names, our truest selves. He means to heal our souls. And we are so unworthy. And yet since we took a bite out of the fruit and tore into our own souls, that drain hole where joy seeps away, God’s had this wild secretive plan. He means to fill us with glory again. With glory and grace.”
What if? What if the losses, the emptiness, the pain might actually become places to see. To see through to God. “That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.”- Ann Voscomp Girls… I know life can be hard… but we can choose to wallow in the hard and resentment… or we can turn our resentment into gratitude. For God is good… and His plan for you is for your good and for a life filled with joy. Whether it feels like that or not. After all don’t we call ourselves Christians? That our core belief is the idea that God brings redemption out of the most horrific act of human history? His son’s death on the cross. If God can bring beauty out of that than surely He can bring beauty out of our ugly things. You can live fully! So how do we learn to do this? We start by thanking him for the smaller things.
I am doing a challenge where I plan to list one thousand things that I am thankful for. It can be anything… clean floors, loud concerts, sweet potato fries, lightning bugs, chocolate, air-conditioning, the sound of a train. Start looking for the little blessings that God gives you every day and write them down. You’ll begin to notice that you’ll actually look for beauty rather than wait for beauty to find you. You’re heart will naturally become more grateful. ” Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”- Sarah Ban Breathnach As we learn to be thankful in the little annoying moments… we will learn to be thankful in the seemingly impossible moments. And that my friend is a supernatural mystery. Freedom to rest in knowing that God is bringing about beauty from your ashes. Knowing you will be restored to glory once again. To remember that -will give us the strength to be thankful. We can open our clenched fists and open to a clutch of faith that warms your holed filled souls. Let’s look past our present circumstances into the eyes of Christ and see His good heart that is bringing us to glory.
I know this is a hard thing to learn…trust me, I struggle being thankful when the milk spills. But let’s learn together how to be thankful and not miss out on a mysterious joy in the midst of struggle. Joy is always possible. I challenge you to write down one thousand things that you are grateful for in your every day life. Look for them starting when you wake in the morning to when you go to sleep at night. And when we find ourselves wanting to wallow in pity because of a tough day or a messy life… let’s try to loose sight of ourself and gaze upon the cross. The one place where God took our sin, experienced every evil thing we could possibly experience, and is in the process of replacing our dirt for beauty. I want to be restored to glory. Don’t you? If you want to dig deeper into this I suggest reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. It will rock your world and change your life. It did mine. Today I am thankful for coffee, little painted toes, Chipotle, smirks, the chance to write my thoughts, and my child’s prayer that led me to conviction. Maybe even spilled milk. 😉