I was on line at the store yesterday when the woman behind me started talking about Christmas. I was so confused, because truthfully? I though it was still October.
Yup. True story. Just yesterday, I realized it was November. And I wish I was joking. But I am not. I had no idea what month it was.
And here is the thing. Just because it is November. Just because it is a month of gratitude. Just because it is the season of turkey and potatoes and everything pumpkin spice, this does not necessarily guarantee that we will all be feeling grateful, that we will all be craving turkey, that we will all be running out to buy everything infused with pumpkin spice. Because the truth is, life is a battle, and battles still rage, even when … especially when … the world tells us it is time to be joyful and grateful.
Stressful and hard things happen, no matter the date on the calendar. And so maybe, you are among the blessed who find this month a challenge. Maybe, if you are like me, you are presently coming out of a battle and gasping for air, and that the last thing you are thinking about is making a pie and cleaning your home, and dare I even suggest … playing Christmas music and running out to stand on department-store lines. If that is you, sister, I feel ya.
And I suppose I could tell you that no matter your circumstance, no matter the battle you have been asked to lead, there is always something to be grateful for. Or I could remind you that we are to give thanks unceasingly, regardless of circumstance or trial. Or we could perhaps compare battles, and reach some sort of “well, I guess I don’t have it as bad you, or as bad as them” conclusion that might give us the “get up and go” we need for at least the next hour. But you know all of this already, now, don’t you? Because I do. And yet still …
This is what I am doing, and maybe you can do this to. Author and speaker, Lisa Brenninkmeyer, references a radio show slogan, in her Walking With Purpose Bible study, Discovering our Dignity: “Don’t tell God how big the mountain is; tell the mountain how big your God is.” And I love this. I love this, because this is something I can do. I love this, because I am a visual person, and this gives me a clear picture of my mountain and my God, in my limited human mind. I love this, because this is a practical tool that I can grasp onto, and make happen. I love this, because the reason I had no idea it was November, the reason why I have not been able to consider turkey or gratitude, was because all I could see was the size of the mountain before me.
And when I do this: when I look at the height and the weight and the size of what God has asked me to climb, I freeze. I stand in place. I become paralyzed. I am stuck. I forget what month it is.
I know this is a time and season where people love to share and post what they are grateful for. And that is good. Social media could use something good. But might I suggest another practice that is working well for me; something that just feels … oh I don’t know … a little more prayerful, a little more sacred. Might I encourage that in addition to spreading the gratitude out into the world (because I really do like to see your grateful posts and the world is certainly in desperate need of some good news), that you also develop a habit of posting in the silence of your heart; a moment of thanks between only you and the Giver of all good things. Grab a journal, and each morning, before the noise of the day enters in, scribble down the simple things, the good stuff, the seemingly small and the authentically real, that perhaps do not tell an Instagram-worthy story, but are hands down, the hand of God.
Because I think we have all been social media-programmed into believing that the good stuff we are grateful for needs to look good. When the truth is, my sweet friends, it is most likely that cross, that mess, that illness, that sorrow, that trial in your life, that IS the good stuff. Why? Because that is the stuff that keeps us running to the cross.
So do this with me, would you? Let’s recall the wondrous deeds of God and let’s thank Him. Let’s remind ourselves that the God we pour our sorrowful hearts out to is already aware of the mountain before us. He is already there, and He is asking that we stop looking straight at it, and turn our gaze to Him. He is so much bigger than any mountain we will ever face. And then … let’s thank Him for the mountain. Yup. Let’s thank Him for that very thing that is standing in our way. Because, sweet friends, all too often, that very thing in our way is the way: the very thing God uses to press us in, to hold us close, to keep us alive on the vine.
And then, go on out and treat yourself to something pumpkin spice.
Copyright 2017 Laura Mary Phelps