As thanksgiving week approaches, so many of us scramble to prepare tables and meals to welcome family and loved ones in celebration of an American day of thanks. And for me, this holiday truly took on a deeper meaning 20 years ago. It was my first sober Thanksgiving. It was my first not hung-over thanksgiving in I don’t even know how many years. I remember my mom asked me to say the prayer that day and as a very new believer, I was on the pink cloud in my faith and new sobriety and boy I remember that prayer was so important to me. Mostly because it seemed I finally had something to be thankful for. Of course, I had much to be thankful for all along, but in the struggle of addiction, the enemy has a way of blinding us to the truth of all we do have to be thankful for. I often did not “feel” grateful and had a hard time finding much that seemed good in my life. What I wrote that day came from a place of newly opened eyes. Eyes that were seeing my family, my 12 year old son, my parents, nieces, siblings in a new light. In many ways it was as if I was waking up from a coma and seeing them for the first time in years. And Not only was I now sober, but my husband too had finally found sobriety and we were expecting a child and things were really looking up! I was high again, but now I was high on life. That day,my gratitude poured out on that tear stained paper and warm tears streamed down my face that day as we gathered round the table and I fumbled through my prayer of thanksgiving, of all I was thankful for. Looking back, it was a wonderful day, but it was clearly only the beginning of my journey with God. I really had no idea of where He was going to take me, How far I would turn and run away again, and how far He was willing to reach to save me again. That He would be waiting with arms wide open to welcome me back when I had finally come to the end of myself.
Its been quite the journey since that Thanksgiving 20 years ago and much has changed. None more so than me. You see “He who has begun a good work in us, will carry it on til completion in the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6) and I surely did not grasp what that meant all those years ago and perhaps I still don’t and I am experiencing only the tip of the ice berg, so to speak… But God knows, and today I trust Him.
I don’t look at Thanksgiving the same way I used to either. Before it was a day off of work, which meant a night to go out drinking and sleep in and show up whenever. Then it became more of a “holiday” to gather around and eat and nap and watch football and of course I was thankful, but today, as a result of the new heart that Jesus Christ has given me, a heart that beats for Him, my gratitude has changed. The eyes of my heart (Eph 1:18) see everyone around me so differently. God has been and continues to see His work in me thru to completion and an exciting part of that for me in the last couple of years, has been to really see people. To really turn my body around to face them and honor them as children of God. To be a silent observer when the family is gathered around. What can be chaotic, is now mostly moments I want to freeze and dwell in longer then the cruel clock of time allows. So, I linger longer in those moments. I capture them with the snapshot of my mind.. I engage in conversations and hear about things that may not completely interest me, but that is because it is NOT all about me. Its about edifying another. About serving. About my ministry to be Christ’s hands and feet and arms and ears and words when He uses me to speak His words to them. It is to be present and listen and engage and show love, to look deeply into another persons eyes as they are speaking to me and not be preoccupied with cell phones or television. To be present in each moment is the best present I can give someone. Giving of myself, of Gods self thru me. I think of Jesus in Mark 5:30, the woman had only grasped the hem of His garment, believing for healing and Jesus honored her by turning around! He turned and faced her. I imagine He looked into her eyes where no one had looked for 12 years. 12 years.
My prayer for each of us This thanksgiving would be to come boldly to the throne of grace before we get with family and friends and the chaos and ask Father God to give us peace and His eyes to truly see our loved ones this Holiday & every day. That we ‘Be Still & know that He is God” that we be still , breathing in the precious moments instead of getting too caught up in the place settings or the perfectionism in preparing a perfect meal. That we pause and look around the table, beyond the fancy place settings and look at each one God has so carefully and purposefully placed in our lives and quietly give Him thanks for knowing exactly what and who is best suited for the particular journey each of us is on. He knew before He laid the Earths foundations, the Plans He has for us .. Instead of striving against one another, because we don’t agree sometimes as families often don’t, lets lean in and give thanks to Him for His plans and perfect will. Lets lay aside differing opinions, Let’s use these precious moments we are given to look deep into each others eyes and hear hearts instead of rushing thru the moments. To engage fully with our ears, our eyes, our bodies and our hearts… Lets communicate “You are valuable, just because you are” and lets honor one another as the unique, beautiful children of God that we are. Lets turn around!
We truly are blessed beyond measure and every person that blesses us with their presence is a gift from God. Ask Him to let us see them that way, thru His eyes, those fleshy heart eyes.. a heart beating with the Love of Jesus.
Thanksgiving like this should be a daily occurrence, not one day a year.
May the Lord bless you and keep you and may the Lord make His face to shine upon you and to be gracious to you!
Happy Giving Thanks Every Day!
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