It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and there is almost always something to be thankful for. Especially in the west, we have roofs over our heads, food on our tables, and resources running over for what we “need.” But what what about when we aren’t “feeling it?” What do we do when we have expectations that aren’t met? When life gifts us twists and turns that aren’t on our mental calendar, when prayers seem to go unanswered and hearts are hungry?
I love how life seems to move in seasons, just as creation does, but this season of never-ending change, especially as a mama, is often dotted with moments of frustration. Even as I rejoice that independence is growing in the children we’re raising, there’s a melancholy that comes with their growing on their own. Even as I celebrate each step they take forward in the calling on their lives, there’s a hint of fear when they make a mis-step. And beyond parenting, life itself often presents challenges in the form of unmet expectations… marriage loses its romance, homes get dirty, friends wound us with words, our bodies aren’t the pillar of health we wish for. So what do we do when we just don’t feel thankful?
The theme word of my year, it seems, has been yieldedness. One twist or another turn seems always to be happening, and I believe God has been challenging me to melt into the unexpected. Rather than stiffening my heart and body and fighting every little change, I’ve been learning oh-so-slowly to yield to the discomfort that comes from stretching, in anticipation of the growth that is quietly happening, in me and in others. I’m working oh-so-hard to be quieter and wait. (Reading the book Seasons of Waiting has been in such good timing for me.)
My daughter and I have been waking every morning for a couple months and stretching our bodies, working patiently to move to a stronger place physically. She’s athletic but wants to be more flexible. I’m not, but I want to be in better health! The instructor in the videos we use often says to “breathe into” the place where there is discomfort. I remember hearing the same thing from my midwife during labor in childbirth – she said:
“You have to move through the pain, not run from it.”
And part of my journey of moving through, is letting go of the hard-and-fast expectations I have for life and the people around me. Speaking the truth in love is a calling we all have, but creating the change in others it may effect is beyond our power. We may have to wait in personal longing as God does His work in them. Soul-satisfaction is something God promises to give us, but that satisfaction, that security, that reason-for-thanks-giving, that is all Himself. Any satisfaction we feel in the everyday, that’s frosting. Whew. John Donne said it this way (a quote read in my wedding, and one I need to remember today…)
“Ask for the Morning Star and take (thrown in) your earthly love…” (C.S. Lewis, Five Sonnets)
I’m realizing, tiny-bit-at-a-time, and maybe for the hundredth time, that my soul-hunger won’t be filled by people. It won’t be filled by good books or good coffee or luscious candles or soft blankets or the perfect wall color. All of these things, including relationship, are gifts. They are amazing bits and tastes of what is true, and noble, and good. They are a glimpse of holy, and they are meant to whet the appetite for the One who is truth, nobility, and Goodness.
I wonder, does any of this ring familiar with you? Do you find yourself striving to create beauty, or to give thanks in a place where all your requests aren’t met? Where frustration may reign because you lack what your heart needs? If so, let’s together seek to yield to what God wants to do in our hearts… to how He wants to grow us through discomfort, to awaken our longing for Him by leaving us dissatisfied even with good things.
Recently I shared that I’ve been struggling with grumpiness over not having all my kids home for Thanksgiving. I’m a woman who’s passionate about opening my home and my table, but this year it will hold a smaller number of people, and I’ve wrestled over that fact. A wise friend gracefully turned down my invite to sit at our table with us, and instead challenged me to rejoice in the size of that table, and pour out blessing on those who will grace it – because they are worth it. I’m going to be asking for the wisdom to “let fly” my expectations, and instead rejoice in exactly the circumstances I’ve been given in this moment, on this holiday, in this season.
I’m going to be practicing thankfulness in letting go.
Creating welcome with you,
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