everything is a big word

A couple weeks ago, our lead pastor summed up a message by asking us to contemplate something we were grateful for that day. Not too difficult, right? There’s got to be something.
I thought about it. And thought. And thought some more. (And thought til my thinker was sore?) Yet the only thing I could think was “I can’t think of anything I’m not thankful for.”
Now, let me set this straight. On the Pollyanna spectrum, I land somewhere near “slightly less sarcastic than Oscar the Grouch.” I do no do sweet gushy, and I do not generally write all my multiple blessings on Facebook, though I appreciate those who do. (I did it once for November, and I just don’t usually do things twice. Unless it’s read Pride and Prejudice.) This to explain–there has been some pretty stinky stuff in my life. I will spare you the details but let the record state, there is PLENTY not to be so uber-thankful for.
That’s why it surprised me that I sat there trying to pinpoint one things I was grateful for in my life and all I could come up with was “everything.” Every stinking, great, sucky, fantastic, painful, fabulous thing. It’s not like I haven’t understood before that God works everything for good. But in that moment, I realized I had reached some kind of state of not just peace but joy about my past and all that was in it.
I have scars. Some are literal, others figurative. Because of that, I have eyes that maybe act like little scar-seeking missiles, lasering in on where others are walking wounded.
I have sight to look beyond someone’s issues to where their wounds are. I have vision for healing that can happen in a life that looks hopeless. I have eyes to look at a wrong someone has done to me and see that, in the big picture of all that has gone before, this is so minimal. I have scars that allow me to offer hope. I love that reality.
Somewhere, somehow, I have gotten past the “thank you God for using all that junk even though I wish I never had to go through it” to “Thank you, God, for all the stuff.” Just thank you. Because without the stuff, I would be half the person I am. Maybe not the good half, either. And I’m finally getting to like what He’s made.
What about the sucky, painful, stinking garbage of our past or, perhaps, our present? Are those things making something of you that you can look at and say, “I like that”? If so, give thanks. Not everyone is happy with what they’re becoming. (Let’s face it, not everyone should be.) But if you can be? It’s a blessing beyond imagination. If you can look at the world through eyes of love, grace, and acceptance that runs deep, you’re blessed I’m not talking merely superficial acceptance as in “Hey, let’s tolerate everyone’s beliefs and not offend anyone and coexist.” I mean down, deep, dirty grace and acceptance because you know where you’ve been, and you know after that, no one is beyond hope and help.
Thanksgiving. Usually, we fill that with all the things we’re thankful for that are blessings in our lives. I want to throw down a challenge this year. What about the things that don’t look like blessings? Try giving a different kind of thanks this year. A “Thank you, God, for everything.” No exceptions. No loopholes. Just thank you. What do you suppose might happen this year?

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