I have learned a lot about thankfulness this year. I don't mean the kind of generic thankfulness for the life God gave me while I smile over a heaping plate of turkey and potatoes. I mean the kind of thankfulness that hurts to say because it would be much easier to let tough, bitter skin grow over my heart than to keep it soft by thanking God for His redemptive hand in the things I hate. I don't mean the kind of thankfulness that pastes on a fake smile and says, "it's okay, it's okay" while bleeding out, but the kind of thankfulness that can acknowledge "even as I bleed out, I believe God can use this as a tool to draw me to Himself and for that I can honestly say 'thank you'."
I came across this quote on Ann Voskamp's blog and while I have yet to read any William Law, it depicts what I've experienced this Thanksgiving and this year:
If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness--
he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.
For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.
Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it heals with a word speaking, and turns all that it touches into happiness.
… it be the noblest sacrifice that the greatest Saint can offer unto God.”
~ William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout & Holy Life
That being said, I am also thankful for many tangible blessings that are evidence of God's extravagance. Yesterday on Thanksgiving Day at my parent's house I watched my kids running around with ten of their cousins and it was the blessing at the forefront of my mind. My own cousins have been instrumental in every stage of my life. They give me wisdom, conviction, the tightest of hugs (I'm not just saying that. I'm talking break-your-ribs kind of tight), and unconditional love-you-through-the-ugly kind of love. (They also sometimes sneak me away for overnights like this picture taken last month)
Watching my kids develop those types of relationships with their own cousins humbles and excites me.
I also found myself thanking God for my sibling relationships (as we spent way too much time telling hilarious roadkill stories over dessert last night). My siblings (and siblings-in-law) aren't people I do holidays with. They're my real friends who I laugh hard with, who call me out when I need it, and who put up with this bossy big sister.
My own two boys and two girls are as diverse as me and my siblings are. They watch each other's backs at school, they support each other's interests and passions, they rough house and don't let each other get by with much.
For these things I was smiling and thankful for over a heaping plate of turkey and potatoes....and stuffing... and ham... and shrimp salad...and cranberry sauce...
Just throwing myself out there a bit...