An unbroken Thanksgiving
A baby lives for minutes after she’s born. A twenty-one-year-old son and a close friend to dozens of peers dies after a series of bad choices. The word cancer is back. Your financial security is not secure. A single, want-to-be dad still waits to adopt after five years of trying. Loneliness, or some other darkness, lives in the house with you.
Welcome Thanksgiving, 2019.
How to celebrate being thankful can be a challenge. If that challenge isn’t yours, that challenge is with someone you know well.
Maybe Thanksgiving should be less about the pies and the three stops you make that day to visit local family and friends and more about having your heart open to thankfulness, which, for some, is a knuckle-down, gonna-get-through-it impossibility they choose to avoid.
My sister is the one I was thinking of when I wrote about the twenty-one-year-old who made a series of bad decisions. My nephew died on November 18, 2018. I am a want-to-be dad who has experienced five years of sorrow in the system of trying to adopt children only to fail each time.
It hurts. My pain isn’t my sister’s pain or yours, or your friend’s, but I get it enough to say with a tear literally hanging still on the right side of my face that thankfulness is an act, an intentionally. It is not a gift you receive. Instead, thankfulness is something you go and get.
How you “get” thankfulness is a conscious act, a deliberate motivation on your part. And motivation is needed when you have one or ten thousand tears running down the right side of your face.
Having the desire to be dad to children isn’t my first heartbreak. A hardwired romantic, I am still single—and that pain is all the more and raw (literally) today.
When tears come, this is what I do. I give it all to God. Listen closely. I am not saint. I stumble and fall. But I also visualize my hands scooping up all the broken pieces of my heart and turning all those shards of busted plans, hopes and dreams over to God.
This is what I find true. Your life will never make sense until God is in it.
I get that some of you get mad at God because I have been mad at God, really mad. As Peter denied knowing Jesus God, I denied knowing Jesus when I lost a child and said out loud that I didn’t know a God who could do this to me. Truth. I did not know a God who could allow this much pain.
I get that some of you aren’t talking to God because you are where I stood.
But I also get that while hope dims—and it dims for all of us sometimes—it never goes out. Author and pastor Francis Frangipane says, “Christ’s life unfolds, in part, as we learn to appreciate the gifts He has given us.”
You can have a broken Thanksgiving this year, or you can choose to see what is in your life rather than what isn’t. Your pain can be an anchor or a guide to seeing—and feeling—God within you. Loss leads to lessons, and lessons lead to love.
This love is not yours to control. This love is best when it’s given away because when you give love away, it always comes back somehow.
For a year my sister has said you can’t choose your blessings, but you certainly get them.
Think about opening your heart (broken or otherwise) to your blessings after giving your heart to God whose plan always leads to love.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on Wednesday, November 27, 2019.