for when you stop. and for when you pick up again...

Monday, July 30, 2012

i start and stop for various reasons.

each reason ranging from the small to the large.

i am a woman who has easily been swayed and influenced by opinion, it's true. and it's been a part of me that has driven me mad.

the last time? i stopped because of comments and posts that i had read somewhere. the words, smooth as honey were written with a tone that belittled the practice of thanksgiving.

i read those words when life was pressing in tightly.  when i was already finding it hard to write out the words, let alone breathe them out to the One Who longs to hear them.

i believed, along with those who wrote them, that thanking Him for the small things isn't realistic, glosses over the ugly and the painful, throws some pollyanna-coloured paint over what causes a heart to bleed.

so i laid the pen down and began to grumble aloud.

i began to focus on what we didn't have,

what was wrong,

what caused me pain.

i may have stopped writing, but i was still keeping a list 

and it was ugly.

uglier than the the pain underneath it all.

more damaging than my heart that was hurting.

in all of this quiet, this wrestling, this working out what He is saying and what i am fighting, i've maybe come to a small conclusion or two...

i had lost the real reason why i was saying thank You.

when i began the list again, back in january, back when He gave me the promise of something new, i joined the community and the joy dare and faithfully wrote down my three gifts each day...but soon, my focus shifted. the desire changed.  instead of a heart transformed, the idea of winning the grand prize at the end of the year became what i wanted.

i no longer wanted Him.

and soon, when everything began to press in, the thanks was pressed out and a mouth void of praise becomes a heart filled with venom.

i've discovered, again - as though the first one hundred times wasn't enough - how difficult it is to change directions when you have already wandered too far down the path. how difficult it is to turn once again and fight your way back to a mindset that longs for Him, that desires to be made like His own.

i've been fighting to get there.

when i put the list away this last time, i also laid down the words i've been memorizing.  it was easy to blame the pregnancy, the brain cells diminishing and the nausea mounting, but when i laid down the list and i closed my mind to His Word, i opened my heart up to believe He isn't enough.

that thankfulness is foolishness.

that i could do more by pointing out everything wrong instead of focusing on Who is Right and True and Just.

i've been fighting to memorize again.

and the words that have struck deep and put some backbone behind my shaky resolve?

it's these ones:

so then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live your lives in Him: rooted and built up in Him,
being strengthened in the faith as you were taught and 
overflowing with thankfulness.
colossians 2:6-7

i read, this morning, in the commentary that i'm going through as i memorize this small book to the church in colossae, the promise again that while He is able, 

i am too:

these first three principles are in the passive voice "implying that divine action is essential in Christian growth."  paul's readers have not rooted themselves, built up themselves, or strengthened themselves; God has.  the fourth characteristic, "overflowing with thankfulness," is in the active voice and means that God's action in the lives of Christians should evoke overwhelming thanksgiving. as luxuriant green leaves are a sign of a healthy plant, profuse thanksgiving is "the unfailing mark of a healthy spiritual life". those who bubble over with gratitiude for what God has already done are not easy prey to anxiety and doubt. they have no need or desire to look for fulfillment elsewhere and cannot be taken in by false promises or shaken by bigoted detractors.  

being thankful...saying thank You, for me, has nothing to do with a brand new camera or a number on a page or making a weekly deadline. it really even has nothing to do with that journal all filled up with rows and rows of moments of beauty.

it has to do with the Creator of Beauty.

The Giver of Beauty.

it is only about Him.

yes.  life hurts. deeply and really hurts.  hearts break and relationships get messy and my laundry piles will never, ever go away.

but Jesus?

in the middle of the broken and shattered, He never leaves. He never abandons. He allows the hard for a good we may never see this side of eternity, 

but underneath it all - 

He. Is.

and because of that,

because of Him,

because of all He has done,

the thanks comes out readily again...

1502. all. those. birds. that now know there's free food near our front door just for them
1503. a tender heart for Jesus blooming inside a free-spirited olivia
1504. lyla pulling out her own tooth
1505. the changes we're making
1506. the love for him that never stops growing
1507. the song of those wind chimes outside my windows
1508. a push to be consistent
1509. a crazy group hug in the middle of a sidewalk - small arms and legs wrapped around
1510. feeling this newest one move and tumble deep inside me.  a wonder i can never get over
1511. cool evening breezes after crazy hot days

{just a small note: while i am choosing to no longer participate in the joy dare because i find that the desire to win far out weighs my desire for Him, i think it's a wonderful and powerful way to encourage the practice of thanksgiving and to turn our eyes in unexpected ways to find Him always there.}