I know-not the most “Christian” title to have. But honest.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Normally, my heart is bursting full of joy as I prepare for one of my favorite holiday weekends. After waking up with my sweet husband and dogs, I usually scamper to the living room and turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I get ready, finish cooking and head to my Aunt’s house for lunch. After lunch, we make a stop at Jon’s family’s lunch and grab a copy of the Tennessean. After a short nap, the real fun starts as my cousins and I meet up for our annual Black Friday shopping trip. Once home and packages unloaded, Christmas movies start. Saturday is dedicated to decorating for Christmas, baking sweets and leftover Turkey.
Except, that’s not really what’s going down this year. Because I still have mono. And I’ve been down for the last three days with the worst migraine in history. When I woke up at 4:00 this morning and told my boss I wouldn’t be in today, I had serious doubts that I would even live until lunchtime much less make it to Thanksgiving Dinner. And shopping? Well maybe if someone finds me a wheelchair.
I felt much better this past weekend. Though trying to work last week didn’t go as planned, Saturday and Sunday were good days. So Monday, I felt ready to get back to “normal”. However, as stated above, that didn’t really go to plan either. I made it through a half day of work to come home, go straight to bed, and barely make it off the couch since. Throughout that time, Aunt Flo came to visit for the week and our washing machine died-mid load. Yesterday, I stood in our cold little house-with dirty dishes, wet laundry and serious cramps and cried.
I could not really find any reason to be thankful at that moment. And I’m still struggling to find a reason to be happy and content in these circumstances. Not the most “Christian” attitude huh? But again, honest.
Where I work, after vacation and sick days are used up, you don’t get paid for the time you miss-which is normal. But keep in mind, I’ve not worked since Halloween-so I’m missing two paychecks. Not a huge deal for Jon and I, as we have tried to be good stewards of our finances, but it still weighs on my mind-especially in the midst of building a house and the holidays. In my last post, I mentioned with the torrential rain we had a leaky roof and our new driveway washed away-neither of which are repaired yet. Yesterday, our washing machine died. I organized a Bible Study months ago and have yet to be present at a single session, the latest one taking place last night. I have piles of laundry, dirty dishes, an exhausted body, an anxious mind and a heavy heart.
Now before you start getting defensive and telling me that there are people much worse off than I am this holiday season-I know that there are.
I know that I should be thankful that I have a roof over my head period.
I know that I should be thankful that mono isn’t a permanent, or terminal illness.
I know that I should be thankful that despite missing work, I still have a job and can still afford nice things even without getting paid.
I know that I should be thankful that as a 23 year old woman, my husband and I can afford to build a new custom home on 50 acres.
I know that I should be thankful that even in our leaky, cold little rental-I’m sleeping under Pottery Barn bedding and eating from Le Creuset dishes.
And a million other things. I know compared to other people, I don’t have one single reason to complain. I know that there are so many people-people my heart stays burdened for-that have it so much worse than I do. I know that I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth and I really have never had to “want” for anything. I know.
Despite the fact, I haven’t really had to “want” and despite the fact I have it so much better than most, I’m still a person. And I still struggle when things in MY world get hard. And especially around the holidays, it’s hard when my traditions and my routines are interrupted.
I think as Christians, we all too often pretend that we are somehow excluded from the rest of humanity, especially if we are shielded from extreme hardship (poverty, divorce, etc). We aren’t supposed to feel like everyone else, we aren’t supposed to want like everyone else-We pretend that we are immune to “worldly” things. Whether it’s grief or suffering or sex or the love of money-somehow, we fool ourselves into believing that we are “supposed” to operate differently.
And in a way, yes, we are called to be different than those who have “no hope” as the Bible tells us-Because we have Jesus. But, though we belong to Christ and the family of God, in all reality, while we are on this earth-we’re still human. We may not be “of” this world in a spiritual sense, but there is no denying that if we are breathing, we are in it.
We’re not immune from hardship… from feelings…from sin…from the love of money….desire for recognition…from anxiety…from doubt…from hard stuff. We aren’t immune to it. And this whole guilt trip that we silently give ourselves as we fold towels with a lump in our throat while we hold tears back and tell ourselves “All things work together for good” isn’t faith. It isn’t real.
Faith is trusting God enough to be honest with him, knowing you can be honest with him because you believe He is who He says He is even when what you feel or have to say isn’t filtered “Christian”. Faith is admitting things are hard, when things really are hard and getting up the next day anyway. Faith is forcing yourself to take a nap on your sick day, even though you are worried you may lose your job and “then what?”. Faith is screaming and crying in anger and in grief to a God that could end the world in a second, because somewhere inside of you, you believe He is who He tells you He is and that means despite it all, He is LOVE. Faith is knowing and struggling with the fact that sometimes there is no easy answer and sometimes, there is no answer at all.
Maybe the comforting thing to remember about faith is in the grand scheme of things…mountains of faith are built one mustard seed at a time. Because often times, a mustard seed of faith is all you can muster up. And those days when your toes are cold, your throat is sore, your laundry is smelly, your dishes are dirty, your stomach is cramping, your head is hurting, your dogs are barking, your baby is crying, your roof is leaking and you don’t have a Christmas tree to decorate-cry. Cry and realize that you are human. And remember that despite the shortcomings, and the lack of “thanks” on a holiday dedicated to thanksgiving, and the discontent, and the dirt that surrounds you…despite the screw ups and the sin and the less than perfect mess that you are…you are loved. Even if you aren’t really as thankful and spirit filled as you “should” be.
I don’t have a verse for this one, just a “me too”. So, if you’re feeling less than thankful this Thanksgiving, know that it’s okay. I am too. And we can be the less than perfect, but equally as loved, women just trying to survive the holidays together this year. And one day there will be a lesson. And it will get better. One mustard-seed sized faith-filled step at a time.
Love to you-