It's time to give thanks.
When I look back over the past year, I realize it has been a year of hardship.
Choosing a word for the year, like many bloggers do, has never felt right for me. But my 2013 now has a word.
It's not the kind of word you choose for yourself ahead of time.
Last Thanksgiving was the last time my nephew's wife was in our home. Noelle and Reagan spent Thanksgiving night Black Friday shopping with her. They never slept and made a great memory together, which turned out to be their last, because shortly thereafter, she left.
December brought the end of my aunt's 8 year battle with a deadly cancer.
I struggled to celebrate Christmas last year.
The new year was no better. A good friend died too young of a heart attack in January.
As winter gave way to spring, my job was downsized and so was my pay check. Financial pressure set in. We took our first cruise anyway because we had already paid for it.
Summer, the season ripe with life, brought death to our family again. My cousin's 17-year-old son met the Lord that sultry July night. And I have learned anew how to be as present in Tammy's life as possible from a distance.
Death came again in September when Mike's mom finally slipped through our fingers.
And here we are again: back at Thanksgiving.
No matter what, it always seems to come back to that: thanksgiving.
And despite this year of struggle, I am thankful.
I'm mostly thankful for lessons learned. These:
- that we can. be. victorious.
- the depth and wonder of forgiveness and friendship.
- how to build myself up in my faith (see Jude 1:20).
- how to fight defiantly for hope when bad things happen to innocent people.
- the difference between a protective posture and exposing my injured self to God.
- that what appears to be aimless wandering might be a straight path to knowing God.
- that, ultimately, the real struggle is not your circumstances but how you face them.
My measure of thanks is directly related to the measure of hardship. When the lessons are hard won through struggle, the gratitude is truer.
So happy Thanksgiving; or sad Thanksgiving, whichever the case may be for you.
Both can be true and are equally beautiful.
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