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Giving Thanks In

The other day I posted this on Facebook attempting to be encouraging, inspirational and faith-filled:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18] It's hard to give thanks in ALL circumstances, yet this is what God calls us to do. Sometimes, it's easier to give thanks in all the GOOD circumstances - and to complain about the yucky ones. But God tells us to give thanks ALWAYS. No matter what we're going through.

Some nights, getting a three-year old to bed leaves me feeling anything BUT thankful. I'm frustrated with his excuses, exhausted from my busy day and ready to fall into bed. It's hard to feel thankful when battling for bedtime.

Yet, there is so much to be thankful for! I have a spirited child who is healthy and strong! I have a home that keeps us warm and thick blankets to keep us warm. And I am able to use this time to practice something God always seems to remind me I need to work on - Patience!

Yes, God calls us to give thanks in ALL circumstances. It might take us a few minutes to figure out what that thanks actually is, but it IS there!

As with many things interwebby, I was asked for clarification. Specifically, the part about giving thanks in all circumstances. Because how could I give thanks to God for Avery dying? What kind of mother is thankful that her child is dead?

*Allow me to digress for a second and offer a piece of advice:
if you feel compelled to use any variation of the words 
"I just feel I need to tell you this"
before or after anything you plan to say -
don't actually say it.
Trust me.*

Once the sting subsided, I realized it actually was a legitimate question.

Let me be clear, I do not rise each morning and say, hey, God, just want to thank you that Avery died unexpectedly and I carry a lot of guilt about not letting her lay in my bed the night before she died, even though she came in my room three separate times.

I do not say, hey! Just wanted to thank you for the feelings of incredible pain and anguish and the way I have to stop myself from sobbing multiple times a day.

I do not say, hey! I just want to say thanks because now I'm saving a lot of money on Christmas presents.

I mean, really. Come on. I do not give thanks for this tragic circumstance I find myself in.

But I do believe that God calls us to give thanks in all circumstances. IN all circumstances; not FOR all circumstances. Think about that. There's a difference. In, not for.

As much as this is undeniably the worst possible thing I have ever been in, I give thanks for all the beautiful, wonderful, soul-healing blessings that have found me.

I give thanks that in this incredible darkness, I have the best friends a girl could ever ask for. Friends that dropped everything to run to my side on that terrible, tragic night - not knowing what to say or how to help, and fighting every urge to stay locked in their home sheltering their own from harm - who stayed late and hugged tight and made decisions and talked out loud and listened and mourned and captured photos and tackled projects that were dreamed of better I never thought would ever actually happen until they did it. And they never left my side. They haven't even yet.

I give thanks that in this unbearable pain, I have been able to hear with an indescribable clearness exactly what God wants me to do: create AVERYday Ministries, develop #the19days, encourage kids through Youth ACT! What an incredible way to remember Avery, change lives, honor God and heal my heart. Of course I am thankful!

I have so much to be thankful for in all of this: the afternoon my doorbell rang and before me stood a classmate I hadn't seen in over twenty years, holding out the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp - pages and pages of truth-words that would find their way to every sliver of my shattered heart and slowly bring me back together. How can I not be thankful that in my most broken hour there stood before me the very person I needed to see at that very second, bringing me the very thing I needed in order to heal?

How can I not be thankful that seven days after the death of my precious daughter, seas of costumed children swarmed the streets outside my house, laughing, holding sticky hands and hungry mouths out for candy, and I, in the midst of bitter grief, knew I could not possibly take another breath, sobbing out my pain - and I pulled out the most beautiful handwritten words from my daughter: "I will never forget about you. I will keep you in my heart forever." Tell me, how can I not be thankful for that?

And this? This is not even the beginning of all the amazing, wonderful, beautiful things I have to be thankful for. There is a huge difference between giving thanks FOR a situation and giving thanks IN a situation. I am giving thanks IN.

I don't expect anyone to understand, and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to explain it - I just know with every fiber of my being that joy can coexist with sorrow; that goodness can be found sprinkled over anguish. That there is light amongst the darkness - and sometimes it is really hard to see those things - sometimes I find myself frantically searching for the goodness, for the light - but I know it's there and I will not rest until I have found it.

I will continue, all my days, from here until the day God calls me home, to rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances.


Tina, said…
I completely understand what you are saying about giving thanks.

I followed your blog before this happened and amazingly I have seen the transformation it has made. I don't want this to sound wrong, but through this tragedy God is using Avery to reach the world through you. I am so impressed with everything you have done with this situation and I see what God is doing. He is taking Avery's love for Him and using YOU to spread HIS word, and if I am not wrong that is exactly what Avery wanted to do in life was to spread the word of God. Your blogs used to make me laugh, and now I feel God working through them. Keep up the good work, you are amazing in so many ways!!
Brenna said…
I believe you. And even if the thanks part feels minuscule in comparison to the hard, ugly, painful part, it is always there. And you are a star.

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