Thankfulness is a Choice

November 21, 2018

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. For years now I have made the point that Thanksgiving is not about the things you have that you are thankful for, but rather to the One that provides all good things. Tomorrow afternoon in San Diego more than twenty of us will sit around the table and enjoy a feast. Afterward, we will gather together in the living room (hopefully with the fireplace roaring) and share about God’s graciousness and goodness to us in this past year.

It’s always a mix as we go around the circle. A few years ago my youngest nephew was thankful for internet memes, but in general, we thank God for our families, our jobs and the things most people are generally grateful for.

I have very mixed feelings as we approach our gathering tomorrow. Of course, I am thankful to be alive and of course thankful that I am recovering. I am thankful for my wife, Judy, who has sacrificially given of herself each day, but I cannot honestly say I am thankful for my circumstances. Tomorrow marks 89 days since I have been sidelined. I miss going to the store and picking up items for dinner (I’m quite sure that the clerks at Ralph’s must think I have died). I will miss cooking the turkey tomorrow. I hate not going to work and seeing my colleagues. It is odd to me as our church is going through a major renovation and I only see changes once a week. I guess I should be thankful because I hate construction sounds, but the building progress invigorates me and gives me hope. The construction process, like my recovery, is slow. I have found myself both hopeful and dismayed at each milestone that I experience, but my ADD self wants it done now. A couple of days ago I was able to point my finger and was genuinely excited but soon realized that one finger-pointing is not the same as a hand raised. I’m thankful for progress, but there are days that I allow myself to be consumed with frustration. I believed I would be much further along by now.

The past six months have been overwhelming at best. We came back from our vacation in Greece and Egypt to the news that my father had cancer. Less than a week later I found myself on a plane headed toward Tennessee to say goodbye. I did not expect to be there for over two very emotional weeks. I am the oldest of five children, and I felt the weight of that role whether or not it was expected of me. The stress everyone faced was palpable. My mom lost her partner of nearly 58 years, and we lost a father. Grief is not something that you can turn off or simply get over in a couple of months.  We are looking forward to hosting my mom here in California next week and we are hoping this visit it is a part of her healing process.

A few weeks after my return from Tennessee things got a bit more complicated. We were driving home from Los Angeles when I suddenly realized what was occurring in my body. I remember shutting my eyes before I said anything, thinking that if I didn’t say anything, maybe it would go away. As my wife noted later, that is my general M.O. She was correct. I often think, unrealistically, that if I ignore something, it will go away. The thought was brief maybe less than 10 seconds and then I had to acquiesce to the reality that life was going to change quickly. It did.

Am I bitter? No. Do I understand this? No. Am I thankful to God for life? Yes. Am I frustrated that I have not been healed yet? Yes. The reality is we live in a broken world. It is my choice to see brokenness or to see good in a very bad situation. God is at work and thankfully I see the evidence all around me. Are there days that hope is in short supply? Yes, but thankfully they are fewer and farther between.

I am thankful. That is my choice.

Thanksgiving 20 18

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