We come upon the Thanksgiving holiday one more time, commemorating the coming together of family, and friends, in fellowship, joy and unity. Some unfortunately will be divided among religious, political and lifestyle lines, making the gatherings akward and hard, while some will enjoy the celebration of life, love, and thankfulness for each otehr.
For me, my joy and thankfulness was hard to come by, having had the most tulmultuous year of my life. On the approach to forty years old, I’ve christened 2017 as my midlife crisis. And yet, opening my eyes and looking all around, there is a tremendous, overwhelming realization of all that there is to be thankful for!
You see, in brief, 2017 saw me making the most dramatic changes in my life! In December of 2016 my mother was placed in hospice care, and I moved her in to my home. We knew her winter was coming, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it was devestating. She left this life on Friday, January 20th, 2017 in the room/office I now write in, where I was blessed to brush her forehead with my hand as she took her last breath.
It was in this same time, and partly accelerated by my mothers passing, that my trial of faith reached his apex, and I left, no fled, the abusive cult style church I was in, in mid-February. I had been there 15 years, met my wife there, raised my kids there. It was all I had known, my entire social circle was the church. In fact, we weren’t allowed to socialized outside of the church.
It was in this same year, come April, that my son, still in the church I fled, moved out of our home, to bunk up with two boys from the church. In my heart I know it was partly motivated by me leaving the church, but he was also helping another young man out.
Emotions destroyed by the loss of my mother, my life and routine ripped away by recognizing the need to flee abusive religion, my next of kin finding his own wings, and my marriage seeing perilous times due to the religious divide, as she remains in the abusive church… Where is my Thanksgiving?
And then it is that I look all around me, and see the wonder that God has opened my eyes to! The family no longer seperated by my blind obedience to false religion. The friends I’ve attained by realizing I can now embrace difference without judgmentalism. The chance encounters that I no longer shy away from.
I look at all the world and realize how thankful I am that my family are safe, and close, and connected. That our children have the opportunity to grow in relative peace, and grow their own families with thanksgiving.
No, Thanksgiving isn’t about the Mayflower, or corn, and pumpkins, turkey, cranberries, potatoes or eggnog, though I love those very much.
Today, I hope to inspire within myself, and you, a complete thankfulness for the riches and abundant grace, and mercy we experience daily, to see, to laugh, to feel, to taste, to experience and marvel, to learn and to find, to seek and discover, to feel pain and recover.
My thankfulness is now the embracing of the pain of 2017, that like a tragic wildfire in beautiful forest lands, new life and beauty has been born within me. The soil is being made rich with the loss of former things, where beauty unimaginable springs to life in the days, weeks, years and decades ahead.
To know Him, and who He is, and what He has promised me, and mine, and you, and yours, brings a rich thankfulness that can’t be compared to the simple pleasures of gift cards, meals and drinks. The hugs of loved family who remain, and the tender kiss of memories of those gone now, our Thanksgiving is, by the word, giving thanks for all those things we hold dear, and close.
Thank you friends, who cheer me on. Thank you family, who led me on, Thank you followers, readers and observers, for giving me purpose. Thank you Wife, and Son, and Daugher, and little one on the way, for giving me reason to see my thankfulness for you!
And thanks be to God, who through his abundant and eternal love, gave us the very gift we could never have given to ourselves – freedom!
God bless all on this day of being thankful for the riches in your life!