You see, these two holiday months-November and December- don’t create warm fuzzy feelings in me. I am not thankful this time of year. I have whole lists (and probably lists upon lists if I am honest) of what I am missing in my life, places that have come up dry and hard, painful and sore. Missing holes that I’ve asked the Lord to fill, but for now He has chosen not to. It’s a hard season to swallow for me. It’s a hard season for me to be thankful.
Holes and wounds and brokenness- they just aren’t things we associate with thankfulness. But this season is about thankfulness isn’t it? Isn’t it about “1000 gifts”, prayers of thankfulness, and acknowledging those we love?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s about those things, or maybe it’s a season in the year to just endure. I can keep my lists of all the things I don’t have that seem profoundly long this time of the year and grow frustrated and lonely. But then there’s this concept of gratefulness that I do have.
Gratefulness: warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received.
Gratefulness reveals a deep warmth of appreciation. It indicates something much deeper than thankfulness. It expresses the generosity of God in his Personhood (good, warm, loving, receptive, attentive, available). Gratefulness is receiving all the things I never knew I wanted but God gave me. I didn’t ask for them. I never prayed for them, but He gave them to me anyways.
Rather than listing all the things I am thankful for (don’t get me wrong, that is a good practice of the heart too!), I want to reflect on all the ways God gave me things I hold so dear now, that I never knew I wanted and never asked for in a few installments over the next few weeks. Check out part one here. Here’s the second:
God gave me faithful, sacrificing, wise, kingdom focused friends.
I think most people want good friends. But like, mine are really really the best. They love me. They sacrifice for me. They pray for me, like really really pray. Everyday. They are family.
Where I thought I’d receive judgement, I received compassion. When I thought I deserved anger, I received gentleness.
On the really hard days, one of my precious friends drops off a cupcake or donut (I have no self control with those!) or a chocolate bar, or an evening out for appetizers. They remember the anniversary of my grandmothers death and that valentine’s day is my most beloved day of the year and that I really like to celebrate my birthday but it’s also a very painful day too. They know I love love love receiving snail mail and that seeing a person’s face is far more comforting to me than a call or text. They also know that pizza is the best food on the planet and that not much tops roasted garlic cauliflower.
I never asked for friends who understood the complexity of life and grey matter; who have experienced, personally and/or professionally, in the hard, dark, and heavy ways of life. But God gave them too me anyway. I never knew I needed that. I never knew I’d need them so much.
I never knew I could be loved and cared for by others so deeply.