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Everyday Thanksgiving

“That’s it---I officially hate this week!!!”

That was going to be my Facebook post until my brother said “No”. It was too negative and not Christlike.

Yet, negative or not, that was exactly how I felt.

In the words of a very cute movie, it had been a “horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad week” filled with problems and physical pain highlighted by a mid-week car accident.

Yes, you heard me correctly---a car accident.

Really, it was the oddest thing. I had just come out of one of my favorite places in the world (the farmer’s market—hey, you have your thing, I have mine) and got into the car. While I rummaged through my purse telling him about all of the lovely fruits and vegetables I’d just purchased (like he cared), he pulled the car toward the road. All of a sudden, as we sat there in the parking lot, waiting for traffic to clear so we could pull out: Crash! Bang! Boom!

Two cars collided on the road and slammed into us. The cars were all banged up, there was glass everywhere, and one car was even leaking fuel.

My first thought was to make sure that my brother, who was driving was okay and then make sure I was okay, too. Then after a quick Facebook post asking for prayer, we finally got out of the car to access the damage.

It wasn’t good.

After the police loaded the parts that had fallen off into the trunk, we were able to drive it home as long as we didn’t open the hood. (After that, it would be undriveable) Looking at the scene and the way the other cars landed, we knew we were very blessed that we were driving home rather than being driven to the hospital in an ambulance. I knew God had protected us and the other passengers.

Yet, I have to be honest and vulnerable enough to admit that although I should have felt nothing but GRATEFULNESS at God’s protection---that wasn’t exactly all that I felt.

Sorry---just keeping it real here---but I also felt really frustrated and annoyed.

I mean, how could God let this happen?

Doesn’t He understand that my brother and I share THIS car?

How were we supposed to get anywhere without it?

Now suddenly, three adults with very different schedules had to figure out how to share one car. We were at the mercy of the insurance company as to when this would end. Although I really wish I could say that I was delightfully pleasant through this entire process, I have to admit that wasn’t true. I’d just lost control of my schedule, my “to-do” list, and my transportation and I wasn’t thrilled.

Spending time dealing with insurance companies was NOT on my already overscheduled “to do” list. Neither was taking an entire morning off of work to drive 45 minutes one way to pick up a rental car.

Still, the trip would be worth it because at least we would have a car again and resume life immediately!!!

Well, maybe not so immediately.

Because after we drove my Dad to his work (so we could borrow his car), and then made the 45 minute drive to pick up the rental car, we drove another 45 minutes back home, then back to my Dad’s job to return his car, we finally arrived home to realize that we were unable to get into the house.

Yep, we were locked out.

No matter how many keys I jiggled, twisted, or turned, no doors were opening up.

Every window, crack, or slight entry way into the house was sealed up tight. The wrecked car that held the garage door opener was locked in the garage as we stood on the outside hating this day.

Did I mention that by this time I REALLY had to go to the bathroom?

As I went from door to door, going through every key on the ring trying to find the right combination to get inside, I was seriously considering how bad it would be if I decided to wrap the rug that was on the porch around me and pretend I had to go to the bathroom but I was camping. (No, I didn’t do it---I just seriously weighed my options.)

Finally, realizing we had no other choice, we got back into the car and hit the road again---back to my dad’s job to get what we needed to get into the house (or at least use the restroom)

Maybe it was my jumbled schedule or the fact that we’d missed lunch or that I had to use facilities that were unavailable, but the only thoughts I could think in that second were, “I HATE THIS WEEK!”

And I genuinely meant it!!! Getting locked out of the house was the last straw at the end of a week filled with turmoil, stress, sickness, and problems.

Only as my brother reminded me as I was about to post a rant on Facebook, I was also genuinely wrong.

I was not choosing a godly attitude nor was I choosing to obey the Bible.

Rather than practicing what I preach, I was letting my feelings and frustration determine my attitude rather than choosing to “put on” the mind of Christ.

It was time for me to make a change.

I needed to start obeying Scriptures like:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:16)

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Ephesians 5:20)

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

(Psalm 118:24)

Notice that these verses aren’t optional---they are commands that we are intended to obey---not just on the good days, not just on the quiet days, not even just on the holidays that are filled with turkey, stuffing and football. These are commands that we need to obey EVERYDAY.

Most of the time, obeying these verses doesn’t come naturally. It comes as we make a choice.

For my attitude to change, I had to make a choice to stop looking all of the things that had gone wrong and all of the obstacles we were facing and start focusing on how GRATEFUL I was.

Because beyond all of the inconvenience, I could be grateful that no one was hurt, that the insurance company was helping us, that we had a rental car, that we eventually did get back into the house, and most of all that God had protected, provided, and taken care of us so that the accident was not as bad as it could have been.

I really did have a lot to be thankful for, even during a very difficult week. Perhaps I should say especially during a difficult week when God’s hand was evident even as we walked through a hard time.

Taking a realistic look at life, I think we can all admit that it is often challenging to make the choose to be thankful during the hard times. Please don’t read this article thinking that I don’t understand that my bad week is the worst thing that can happen in life.

No, I know all too well that this week was just a drop in the bucket compared to some of the real struggles of life.

Yet, having walked through a lot of truly difficult times including the intense grief of losing my Mom, the shock and awe when we discovered my Dad’s secret life and secret debt, intense disappointment when God’s plan for my life was so radically different than my own, and enduring my own physical struggles and taking care of those I loved while they were going through major physical issues, I know deep inside of my heart the importance of choosing thankfulness in ALL situations.

Thankfulness that God is in control.

Thankfulness that God knows what is best.

Thankfulness for His strength, His hope, His ability to sustain, restore, and provide.

Thankfulness that He has a plan even when we don’t.

Thankfulness for His comfort.

Thankfulness for His love.

Thankfulness for His presence.

In all of the seasons of our lives, whether they be minor trials or major catastrophes, it’s our choice---our willingness to look beyond the natural and choose to thank God for what He has given---that will sustain us.

It’s what keeps us going---what helps us to become better instead of bitter---and what gives God the material to take the ashes of our mess and make something beautiful.

Still, ultimately, it starts with our choice: Will we choose to be thankful?

Will we choose to quiet our flesh and emotions and refocus on what God has given, what He has done, and Who He Is?

Will we make this choice everyday---not just on holidays or when things are going good, but in the deepest, darkest days of our lives?

Even when it isn’t easy, will we choose an attitude of Thanksgiving?

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