I am disappointed in myself that it takes a National Holiday to put into focus all the things that I am thankful for at this point in my life. I do have much to give thanks for. The follow are 5 Signs of Mercy and reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving. I truly believe that each of these 5 blessings are proof of God’s love for me and his mercy over my life. There’s plenty more than what's listed here, but in no particular order…
My family has seen many dark days and tough times, but I truly believe that we have entered into a new day of healing and rebuilding. I am very fortunate to still have both of my parents and my grandmother still living. God has truly shown all of us an extraordinary amount of grace. I honestly believe that both my parents are alive today only because He has answered some of my most desperate prayers. Though being part of this family has been the source of some of my deepest pains and the single most challenging experience of my life, it has also been a test of my faith that I do not regret. I have learned what it means to love and to forgive in a way that I never imagined possible. Healing and rebuilding is a process, and I am very thankful that we are all here to take part and move forward together.
If there is one thing I am certain of in this life it is this: Camp Squanto and the Family I have found there has not only saved my life, but has shaped me into the person I am today more than any other experience of my college years. It was at Squanto that I first saw people genuinely living out their Faith in ways that seemed so real and so unbelievable. I had never experienced true Christian community until I worked at Squanto, and arguably haven’t again since. Not only have my 2 summers on staff been incredible times of growth and service, but some of the best friends I will ever have were brought to me through Camp. My 3 years in college have been some of the loneliest, unstable times I have ever known. But the friends I have made at camp have brought me endless encouragement, unconditional love, and tons and tons of laughter and joy. And all this from thousands of miles away. I would not be here without them and I am eternally grateful to have such amazing friends in my life.
I didn’t realize how grateful I am for the passions I feel until my friend Bridget called my attention to what a blessing it is to be so convicted and passionate in life. I was talking about how I have an inexplicable knowing that God has called me to a life of hands-on service and seeking justice for His people, but was also expressing my frustrations about feeling “stuck” completing my undergraduate education when Bridget said: “But you’re so lucky to know that. At least you know what God wants you to do.” It then occurred to me that she was 100% right: God has given me an incredible gift by sharing with me at least a little part of His plan for my life in putting these things on my heart. While I may be struggling right now to discern exactly how God would like me to move forward, I am thankful to have His righteous, compassionate Spirit leading me on in such a determined way. And I am so thankful for Bridget, both for her insight and her friendship this semester.
This one is a little different, but trust me, I am very, very thankful to be single this Thanksgiving! I spent from Sept. 2005- Nov. 2010 being in intense, serious, committed relationships. While I do have a number of very happy memories from that time in my life, I also remember times of pain and regret. Looking back, I can see how I lost what started off as small parts of myself but ended in the total abandonment of who I was as an individual. Over the past year I have confronted heartache and allowed God to carry me through the excruciating refinement of a broken heart. Being on the better side of such an experience, I can say with complete confidence that being single really isn’t so bad after all! I am now free to grow into who I am as a daughter of God and to try and live solely according to His plans for me, rather than any plans I may have had for the continuation of a romantic relationship. I’m not suggesting it’s been fun all the time, but being single is exactly what I am supposed to be right now and I am thankful for the opportunity to be undistracted and fully devoted.
This is a tough one, but I am thankful for my story. It’s become undeniably apparent that we all have a story to tell and no two are alike. I have spent much of my life regretting the story I’ve been given. I’ve stood up to challenge after challenge and many times fallen or been pushed right back down on my face. I wasted a lot of time being angry and wishing for a different story. Most days, I still wish God had given me a “better” story, or at least one that I would perceive as easier. But I need to remember to be thankful for the story God has given me, if for no other reason than because it is uniquely mine. It is a struggle, but I am learning to trust God and to know that my entire 21 years has been a preparation for the life I will live serving Him. There’s a whole lot that hurts these days, and a whole lot more that I just don’t understand, but from now on I hope to remind myself to give thanks to God for everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, it’s all in His hands now.