Monday, November 19, 2007

A Much Different Thanksgiving

Yesterday our pastors threw a little twist into our typical church service. They took a few moments for an “open mic” time of Thanksgiving. Anyone who wanted to could share something he or she was thankful for. As I listened to those who shared I knew that I had countless reasons to be thankful this year. The side of me that loves to talk jumped up and down inside of my soul, “Oo, oo! Pick me! I have something to be thankful for! In fact, I have a bunch of stuff!” But I knew it would be best if I stayed quiet. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted share. I didn’t care to spill a lot of details or to do any explaining after the service if my expression of thanks should stir up questions in people. “So, what went on last year anyway? When I think about it, you did seem pretty down and emotional at times.” I no longer feared sabotaging my progress (for awhile it seemed that whenever I told someone, “I’m doing so well! It’s amazing,” I spiraled two days later). My close friends, pastors, and anyone else who knew about my rather lengthy trek through the Valley of Despair would understand what I meant if all I said was, “I’m thankful that I’m in a much better place today than I was at this point last year.”

On this date last year I was on a leave of absence from work, had just started adjusting to depression and anxiety meds, cried almost daily, walked around in a fog and second-guessed every move I made. My mind was my worst enemy, especially the part containing memories. I couldn’t write and knew that I wasn’t treating my family very well. I never could have handled the writing assignments, speaking engagements, and other opportunities that God has sent my way recently. I could have gone on and on about feeling like a different person now, how God used so much of that darkness for good, and how grateful I am for the love and care that He surrounded me with. But I stayed quiet, if for no other reason than my teenaged son was in the congregation and probably still recovering from Friday when I spoke at his school.

Today I am not in a room full of people and I am not limited by time. I simply must share how thankful I am to my loving Heavenly Father for healing my heart in ways that I never thought possible, for never leaving me alone, and for allowing yesterday’s time of thanksgiving as a reminder of how much different this Thanksgiving will be. If given the opportunity to list one thing that I’m thankful for I wouldn’t be able to choose. I’d have to make a list, including things like . . .

Faithful friends
A loving church family
A sensitive "boss" who knew I needed time off even when I didn’t
A brave friend who loved me enough to take risks
Brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t have a problem with certain types of medication
That such medications are available and I was prescribed one that did not cause weight gain
A patient husband
That kids are resilient
Good counselors
That when God heals our wounds He uses the scar tissue for His glory
I’m still here

I'm more relaxed
I enjoy life and people more
I no longer cry over every little thing
When I was in a place where tears came often (and sometimes intensely) I had kind friends to hold my hand through many of those storms
Whoever invented Kleenex (Oops--trademark violation--make that facial tissue)
That laughter really is good medicine
That dealing with our “stuff” benefits us physically—I actually feel younger, which is very strange considering that I turned . . . well . . . a year older

Anyone who reads this post today, rejoice with me. God is amazing!


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